5 Jul 2017

The Introvert Condemnation

I recently had a colleague compliment me on a splendid job onstage as an emcee. In the same vein, she continued to compliment me with adjectives such as bubbly and effervescent. I felt like a can of Pepsi in that moment, but I let it pass, having heard precisely these two words associated with me on more occasions than I could count.

It is an occupational hazard, if I'd ventured to guess. Being in the communications field naturally tends to be people-facing and people assume you are too. I'm easily mistaken for a people person and though I can hold my own in a conversation, I'm deeply introverted and talking to too many people exhausts me. The telltale signs are there, if someone bothers to look. The shiftiness, fidgeting, a ready excuse to run away from the conversation; but I've seen people rarely look past the obvious.

Over the years, exes have also mistaken my basic nature. Quick to assume aforementioned bubbliness, often disbelieving when I stress that I am, in fact, furthest from that description, giving them the time to reconsider. Acquaintances-turned-friends also find it surprising when I don't participate in conversation with a loud group. This introversion, which used to be cause for minor twinges of feeling-left-out in my 20's, now, is a badge I wear with pride and no longer feel terrible when I have to decline a social gathering. This has meant that only people who understand and accept my inherent introverted nature are even friends anymore. I have very little fucks to give about needing to please anyone else.

Recently, I had complimented a colleague on her ability to talk to quite literally, anyone. I disparagingly mentioned that I abhor networking events, because I end up sitting in a corner, talking only to people that I already know. She commented that I shouldn't be telling this openly, that I do quite okay in one-on-one conversations and to not be so self-deprecating! Now, being introverted is a flaw! I smiled at her and said this is how I am and I'm not prone to changing my nature just to get few visiting cards from people whose names I would forget at the end of the event. While I don't think she really understood or accepted it, I find it rather tricky to explain to people who are exuberantly extroverted that it is a state that some people don't prefer and that is not necessarily a setback, especially in a workplace or in personal life. Being self-aware is rather difficult, but being self-accepting is even more so.

While on the topic of acceptance, I'd be remiss if I didn't share that The Man saw through the walls I put up. It takes a fellow introvert to recognise one, after all. We burrow ourselves in the comfort of meaningful conversations or silence, actively avoiding big groups of people and generally being socially reclusive. It's fulfilling to have an anchor in your partner, rooted in common outlook towards life. In my opinion, opposites may attract, but its the similarities that keep people together. In speaking of the heart and the soul, they may as well be the same entity.



10 Jun 2017

2017 and the feminist household

"What's married life like?"
"What has changed after marriage?"
"Aren't you bored on weekends, just the two of you?"

...and such inane, unprompted questions on our married life.

I can genuinely say nothing has changed after marriage. I don't wear mangalsutra, toe ring or sindoor. I'm completely unadorned, without any 'telltale' signs of being married. At least, the registrar office woman seemed to think so, judgmental female!

The Man seems to get different sorts of questions or comments, really.

"You look thin, got beatings from wife?"
"How can you say no to kundru if your wife made it?"
"This is the first year, aage aage the lovey feelings won't last."

...and such sexist, unprompted comments.

We're tired of these questions and comments. The ghisa pita wife jokes, the boring husband ones. I can't think of the last time we were welcomed into the folds of married-life with good wishes of love and prosperity. Probably buried under the absurdity, I'm sure.

Reality is not even close to what people led us to believe. The days and nights are full of love, the laughter is contagious and the intimacy has no bounds. We cook together, do the laundry together, get groceries together and virtually everything householdey together. I can't recall ever having a "sit-down" conversation about divvying up, it has been very intuitive. On the days he's pulling an after-hours call, I'm in the kitchen, cutting up mangoes. On the days I'm having my pan-time zone team meetings, he's in the kitchen, making my filter coffee. If I'm cooking, he's chopping. If he's cooking, I'm hovering around and kissing him when he's stirring the pan. I have handled the planning of finances like a champ, though gave up the excel sheets for him to pore over. He fixes the broken door handle, I fix the shelf. You know, like equals. Though we have never once used the word out loud.

Marriage hasn't meant everything is magically understood. But the one thing that has always been rock solid is the foundation of equality, of chores or of us, as people. He accepts my nature and I accept his. That's the starting point. After that, its just a series of conversation of deciphering what makes us tick, what ticks us off. It doesn't automatically mean an argument each time any of us disagree. We share it and the other nods, that's how we understand each other.

Marriage has also meant navigating our families and adopting an 'let's meet midway' attitude has made everything simpler. For a few days every couple of months, I take out my mangalsutra and jewelry from a dusty shelf and wear it to my in-laws' house. I used to do it grudgingly, now I'm just relieved that it is just for a few days, my very own fancy-dress time. He, in turn, puts up with my annoying extended family and does so like a complete winner, they all seem to like him a lot! It took us several conversations to navigate the tricky business of families and I believe there are more conversations ahead of us. It has made me patient towards my own family, I have to say.

Intimacy is when he squeezes my fingers when I'm angry at something and it instantly calms me down. Or when I brush my fingers reassuringly at his flash of anger at yet another marriage joke. We take it all in stride, not afraid to voice out our annoyance at the ridiculous people making them up.

And the love? The love is grand and makes it all worthwhile.