The Confession of an Introvert
by Shalindri Peiris

Is this how our 20s are supposed to be? Am I allowed to feel this way? I wondered yet again. The whole world around me seems to be in a complete state of utter chaos, yet somehow amidst that, I have found serenity. The lockdown continues, streets are desolate, the recorded numbers rise, and my acquaintances on social media seem to be losing their minds. The sheer thought of being confined to four walls, trembles them with fear yet I rejoice at the thought because the lockdown opened up like a vortex and swallowed me into a blissful state of comfort.

I call them acquaintances not friends because that is how I feel about them. I have always had trouble connecting with people. It’s not that I do not want to be a part of the normal societal routines, in fact, I have tried very hard at it but there was always this disconnection, this gap that was pretty hard to bridge. I have always noticed people but people hardly noticed me. I walk around looking at them and trying to figure out what goes on in their mind. For the most part of my life, I have known of people and they have known of me. You see, there is a difference between knowing someone and knowing of someone and in my case, it has always been the latter. I have experienced first hand how you can be invisible even when you are amidst a group of people and after sometime you get used to that and you tell yourself that you are always meant for being comfortable in your own company.

It is pretty easy to become a quiet presence when people hardly notice you. I was fine with it so the mandatory work gatherings, parties, after-work hangouts became something that I loathed. All I wanted was to return home to the comfort of my room and just be there. Even though I wasn’t doing anything specific, all I wanted was to be inside those four walls where I felt like I had no obligations or responsibilities to fulfill, where I didn’t have to force myself to interact with someone. So undoubtedly the lockdown thrilled me as it allowed me to work from the comfort of my own room and be comfortable with my own presence; I literally could not have asked for a better thing.

During the lockdown, the groups on WhatsApp became extremely active and the social media feeds were filled with frequent posts by people who shared their home recipes and home workout routines. It was my source of entertainment early in the morning to go through each and every message and post and see what people have been up to. People, I believe are simple creatures that can be distracted by minor things. Things such as a “dalgona coffee”. I could never bring myself to go through all that trouble to make a cup of coffee like that, but it certainly became a favorite lockdown recipe to try.

Amidst this mundane amusement, I realized that finding love became a challenging task. It was already hard enough and then add a pandemic into it; it became a twisted path that led to nowhere. All my attempts to find a partner in the past have been futile as a result of my awkward nature. Every person (not that there were many) that I have matched on online dating profiles insisted on meeting in person before initiating a conversation and this made me unmatch or delete my profile several times.

So, needless to say, I was excited to see how the online dating profiles will be amid this pandemic. Sure enough, I got a couple of more matches, and since the meetups were out of the question, they were compelled to talk and that’s when I met him.

Our conversations began with a casual hello, then self-introductions. I was sure he would stop talking after that but he kept the conversation going on. He had a perfect talent to share the most riveting facts about almost everything out of nowhere;

Him: Based on cave paintings, it has been theorized that the pre-historic humans had invented primitive religions as their imagination started to develop. Maybe that’s why we lived in large groups. The group mentality was probably the key to our survival while every other human species vanished.

Me: Perhaps, that’s why people are having such trouble now to adapt to the isolation.

Him: Probably, but tbh, I like this, I know it’s not fair to say this but I’m glad that the lockdown continues.

And suddenly, I did not feel guilty anymore for actually liking the solitude and the isolation that the pandemic created. Perhaps this is love, I naively let my imagination go wild. Thus began the conversations that lasted all throughout nights and weeks. The words filled the void, the aching stopped, night after night I felt hopeful, I felt belonged. I felt like I was caught up in his orbit and I couldn’t stop spinning. The pandemic was an unpleasant experience for a lot of people but I somehow ended up finding the most interesting person I have ever met in my life.

Then one day, without any warning, I received the message I was dreading for.

Him: Hey, so they are lifting the lockdown, would you like to meet me?

Me: …

The ending could have gone either way. I could have met him and possibly fallen in love with him and would have had a great love story. I think that’s what most of you would want to hear but life does not always work that way. I couldn’t bring myself to reply to that message. I left it unanswered for a couple of days. I had to return to work physically. The energy and the mental preparation that it required kept me away from finding a suitable reply to send him. When I finally got around to it, I thought of sending an awkward “hello” with a little hope of resuming the conversation but I couldn’t find him.

He has unmatched me.

In my mind, in a parallel world, the pandemic is rising, the lockdown continues and our conversation flows all throughout the night.

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