We think we know people. As we follow them on social media. And we see them out there. Doing stuff. Chatting, laughing, jumping around. That’s me, right? Ask people in my office who I am (yes I have a job). The most quiet, antisocial person in the world. Usually invisible. Week by week unnoticed at her desk.
If you ever seen me standing in front of 60-70 people before training, you will never admit I might be introvert. If you ever seen me taking 10-15 friends for run, you will never think that as well. In general, people believe that being introvert means you don’t like people. Oh I love people. Well. Those I feel comfortable with. Those I know.
If you want to scare me, close me in a lift full of strangers. Lock me in the tube with someone standing way too close to me. Introduce me to group of people I never met and leave me there, alone. Suddenly the girl who always talks and smiles, will be the most quiet, closed person in the world. Panic. Anxiety. Run away feeling.
It is part of why I love running. Solitude. Just me. No music. No distractions. Writing books in my head. Thinking about everything and nothing. Just being present. Second by second. In the movement. Like bird flying over ocean. I don’t run from something. Nor towards something. I run for running itself. For myself. For freedom. For being present. To feed my introvert soul.
And that day I discovered running in mountains… Open fields, dark forests, lose rocks on dirt paths, mountains. Mountains that are higher than your eyes can see. Blue skies. Pine trees. Fresh air. Light breeze. Rain. Early mornings. Crisp fresh air. And you are one with the nature. And everything is there. And nothing exists. No work, no bills. No cars. No rush. No pressure. No people. No expectations.
I treasure moments like this. I treasure them, save them deep inside and come back to them when they are needed. For me, happiness can’t be defined by things, circumstances. It is hidden in the smallest things. Simplest things. We stress too much about everything. About deadlines. About money. About work. About life.
And I do the same. World is sometimes such an overwhelming place. It can wear you out, drain you out, drag you down.
It took me good 32 years to learn to say no. To realise I can’t please everyone. To take care of myself over others. If you are not happy, you can’t make others happy. You can’t share happiness. And I love what I’m doing for people. My people. My Cats. But sometimes I ran out of batteries. And I will always be a little bit weird. And somehow lonely but very happy about that aloneness. As it allows me to be on my own without being lonely. When you need to escape. Recharge batteries. Think about your own place in the world. I think that being introvert gives me the extra strength. Strength to fight and be strong. Clench the teeth, smile and going for it anyway.
Few days ago I met one of the biggest heroes of mine in person. I was so touched by his humble personality. If you are an introvert, running an ultra is easier than going there, in front of a crowd and smile and joke with them. When your whole you is screaming for escape and urges you to go for a run instead. I was always admiring him as a runner. After this week I admire him even more. For being a person. I read all of his books. Yet, I’m probably the only one from the whole crowd who doesn’t have the standard standing-next-to-with-book picture. Yet, I don’t mind. The little chat we had in the background was worth so much more. Not to be captured in a picture. Not to be shared on social. It is as one of those precious moments I mentioned earlier. To be kept inside, to give me inner smile, to feel special.
And I’m sitting here, in the office, so antisocial as usual, with a quiet smile on. And I purely enjoy putting each word down through the keyboard. In my own bubble. I’m comfortable.
Picture ‘How I see myself when I’m running’ Copyright Ben Read Photography for Never Stop London
Explore his amazing work http://www.benreadphotography.com/