Confessions of a Closet Extrovert

I have always had a very rich inner life.

In fact, it’s always been so vibrant it has been confusing to me through the years when people would label me shy, quiet or reserved. It just made no sense to me.

I felt I was living this wildly adventurous lifestyle. I thought I was an extrovert. I actually felt sort of claustophobic when others reflected back to me how they experienced me. The dissonance between my sense of myself and what the world told me was disturbing.

It was a great shock that became tremendous relief when I finally realized at a certain point that I was living a whole internal life that no one had a clue about. I truly had no idea that all those thoughts, all those fantasies…no one else could TELL they were happening. They were just the movie inside my own head. Ah ha!!

I was an introvert who didn’t know it.

I understand more about it today, but in many ways I am still living a kind of double life: the internal world I am living in my head, and the one I live in the outside world. We all do this to some degree. But I want to make the line between the two thinner.

You see, I have extrovert longings.

Don’t get me wrong. I embrace being an introvert at this point in my life. And I love my rich inner life. I use it for my acting and writing; it serves me well. But.

There are times in my day-to-day life where I feel it is time to find and release my inner extrovert and let her take the wheel.

Like the other day, for example.

There I was, in the upscale hair salon I go to because I love my hair stylist dearly and have followed him here. Our relationship is one of the longest I’ve had in NYC. I cherish it.

Normally it is quite a chill vibe. There’s usually a celebrity there amongst the other wealthy clientele. And me…usually the only unmade-up-face-unstyled-person of the lot (unless you call sweaty workout clothes a style. I usually go after a run or the gym. I am not one of those people who love to go to the salon or spa. I can barely sit still long enough for Jacob to check the color before I am out the door with still-damp hair, much to his consternation.)

But on this day, there was one of those people who just drives me nuts. You know the type. Totally self-absorbed. On the phone as her poor stylist attempted to work on her. I mean, he was blow drying her hair, for heaven’s sake! How could she even hear what the person on the other end of the phone was saying?! The entire salon had to hear her conversation, which, as you can imagine, was quite loud. We were held hostage to her whims.

I soldiered on for while as I had my hair rinsed, until I could stand it no more. I gave her the ‘ole Southern girl’s passive-aggressive evil eye, designed to awaken her to her broach of social manners.

Nothing. Not a twitch or a skipped beat. She was too immersed in her sense of entitlement. I probably did not even register to her. I was just a pasty blur on the fringes of the center of the Universe, which was, of course her and her Important Phone Call.

Then I began to bear witness to the despicable way she was treating the stylist. She’d stop mid-sentence and dress him down for some indiscretion he’d made. Maybe the brush touched her phone? Was the air too hot? She spoke to him like he was an indentured slave. It was grotesque.

Soon, I was seething with rage. I began to have fantasies of ripping the phone out of her hand and giving her a piece of my mind. If she used the word “foliage” in that British accent one more time…I was gonna march over there and let her have it.

There it was…she said it! “And you just have to see the foliage!”

I leapt up and ran over and ripped that phone out of her hand and said, “Excuse me. But we are all having to listen to your conversation and it is rude. It stops now! Plus, this man is a person! Who the hell do you think you are? No one deserves to be talked to like that!”

It was amazing. And I did do all that…but only in my head. In the outside world, there I was. A fairly reserved-looking woman quietly having my hair glossed.

Oh, I did my best to convey psychic messages of commiseration and support whenever I could catch the stylist’s eye. But I just did not have the guts to confront the beast herself, at least not out loud, anyway.

There was one saving grace. Apparently, as he was rolling her hair in rollers, her stylist must have accidentally brushed her forehead with a tiny part of the brush. She literally cried out in a dramatic style that would have rivaled Sarah Bernhardt in her day, waving him off, touching her forehead as if to insinuate that blood was about to gush forth at any moment. All the while staying on the phone, of course.

I found this incredibly funny, and started to giggle and then laugh out loud, uncontrollably, at her plight. It just felt so right. Karmic retribution.

I so want to be the kind of person who speaks up in such situations. Something still holds me back. Caring too much what others think, I suppose. That “good girl” Southern, Protestant-y encoding goes deep.

My step for that day was to speak to the front desk and ask that they offer the stylist a massage or some really loving thing to offset the disgusting shower of ugliness he had been submitted to by that awful woman.

They apologized that my experience had been tainted. I said no. I wanted to apologize on behalf of the human race for the ugliness we human beings sometimes inflict on fellow human beings in the service industry.

That was my Big Step Out. But it is not enough for me. It is time to bring that rich inner life with all of it’s bravery and bold action into the outside world where perhaps it can benefit others.

It is time to live my life out loud, out on the skinny branches. (At least sometimes.)

Look out, world. Here I come.

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