by Rachel Ginder
Dear Extroverted Friend,
I know you’re probably surprised to hear from me. You might have thought I forgot about you, since I never responded to that text you sent two weeks ago. But that is very much not the case. In fact, I think of you almost every day, and I’m painfully aware of the message you sent waiting unanswered in my queue.
You might assume your text would’ve gotten buried by now, by the many other messages I should’ve presumably received since then. However, it’s still much closer to the top than you might think. You’re one of the only people who writes to me regularly.
I wasn’t ready to respond right away that day you messaged me. I wasn’t expecting an immediate reply when I casually texted you on my lunch break at work, and the speed of your response coupled with the length and enthusiasm scared me a little. I’d only intended to quickly let you know I was thinking of you, and then I planned to directly return to eating my lunch in solitude and making my afternoon to-do list.
And because that’s what I planned to do, that’s what I did. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t smile at your response. Actually, I was so distracted by the joke you made that it took me a long time to return to work after that.
Even though I was already mentally crafting a response in my head, I knew it would take me even longer to recover my concentration if I stopped to engage in a conversation with you. I decided I would respond later that day.
You Saw Past My Quiet Exterior
However, later that day turned into the next day, then into the day after that, and then the day after that. You were still on my mind, though, but I worried too much time had passed and you would think it was weird for me to respond four days later.
Despite my negligence in our correspondence, you mean much more to me than you realize. Even though you’re usually the one to reach out first, I sometimes feel insecure about our friendship. I know you have many things going on in your life, and you have a much wider circle of friends than I do.
I’m incredibly flattered that you took the time to befriend me. Your enthusiasm for life and genuine interest in other people are feelings I can relate to, but I rarely let them show. Somehow you sensed my true nature though, even if it was hidden.
Most people take my quietness as disinterest, but you saw past my quiet exterior to the real me. And because I felt that we connected, I was eager to spend more time with you. I don’t think you realize that those long hours we spent chatting over coffee or dinner were often the most social interaction I’d had all week.
Since it was always just the two of us hanging out, and because you were always asking questions and showing a genuine interest in what I had to say, it became easy for me to open up to you. In fact, there were times that you let me completely dominate the conversation. I appreciate that. It’s not something I often feel comfortable doing, but I feel free to be that way with you.
I Need Time to Mentally Prepare to Hang Out
Perhaps over the course of time, you forgot what a quiet introvert I am. I’m sure you didn’t realize that I felt hurt when I drove an hour to spend the day with you and found out you had invited five other friends as well. It’s not like I had to rearrange my schedule to do this. I was happy to go out of my way to see you, but because spending the day with just you was enough for me, I was taken aback that you had also invited others.
I’m still glad that you included me. I just wish you would’ve warned me first, as I like time to mentally prepare before hanging out with large groups of people.
Actually, maybe you were right not to tell me, because I would’ve spent a lot more time debating whether or not to come.
Perhaps you thought you were doing me a favor by introducing me to all of your other friends. It’s so easy for you to make conversation with everyone you meet that it probably didn’t occur to you that I might find this more painful than fun, even if everyone involved was kind and welcoming.
And I’ll admit I was a little jealous to find you approaching everyone with the same genuine enthusiasm that you also share with me. I discovered that you had inside jokes with almost everyone there. Which felt weird to me. I don’t have inside jokes with nearly as many people.
Thank You for Being in My Life
I realize telling you all this and expecting sympathy is rather hypocritical of me. I have a tendency to drop off the face of the earth for weeks at a time, and I’m much slower in responding to your texts and calls than you are with mine.
But I want you to know that I do care about you. Very much. The fact that I keep spending time with you, and the fact that I eventually return your texts and calls, means far more than you realize. I don’t do that for everyone.
I’m sorry if I’m sometimes a lousy friend. The truth is, the daily busyness of life wears me out much faster than it does you. I need extra time to be alone and recharge so I can fully enjoy time spent with you. Please don’t be offended if I occasionally say I can’t hang out. I’m not disinterested, and I don’t love you any less. I just need some alone time for my own mental health.
I’m so glad that we became friends. I’m glad that you said that first “hello.” I’m glad that you text me first. I’m glad that you initiate hanging out and that I have you to talk to, because some days I do actually want to talk.
Under this quiet exterior is someone who cares for you very much. Even if you don’t know it, you are one of the most important people in my life.
Outwardly we might seem like very different people. Some might even question why we’re friends. But I know that fundamentally we’re very much the same. I know all your dreams, goals, and secrets, and you know all of mine as well. While we take opposite approaches in our interactions with the rest of the world, when we are together, I understand you.
I like to think that’s why you keep messaging me. That’s why you’re patient when I go silent. Because, deep down, you understand me, too.