Amsterdam for Introverts

Hello friends! I spent this weekend in the lovely city of Amsterdam, and wrote all about it here: https://deargodson.wordpress.com/2016/09/25/amsterdam/

But here, on my introvert-y blog, is where I tell you about how to be an introvert in this city full of life.

First of all, do the typical introvert stuff during the day when you have tons of energy. Go to the Rijksmuseum and wander around in quietness. Then enjoy a peaceful coffee–but not in a coffee shop. Those sell drugs. Try a “cafe” instead.

A paddleboat may sound nice and calm, but there are many speedy boats that might give you anxiety. Oh, and speaking of speed, watch out for the bikes. Follow the traffic laws to a T, and don’t cross the street without looking both ways for silent bikes and motorcycles that come out of nowhere. Keep in mind, sometimes the lanes go onto the sidewalk as well. Really, nowhere is safe from bikes.

Looking for a quiet experience that will blow you away? Two words: Anne Frank.

Finally, I suggest steering clear of the red light district. Even on a guided tour, the area is loud, bustling, bright, and overall not made for an introvert.

While Amsterdam has quite the nightlife for extroverts, there is also plenty for introverts as well, from the high-culture shows like ballet to the more niche shows like The Amsterdam Dungeon, there is something for everybody.

Enjoy a nice, quiet, lovely, amazing time in this beautiful city:)

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No, you’re not allowed to be sad!

Am I allowed to complain about how stressful travel planning is? I’m so lucky. I’m so infinitely lucky, so is it even valid for me to be stressed out? To be a bit sad?

I’ve heard things over and over in my life, both to me and to others about how if you have it good, there can’t be anything bad to complain about. However, I’m a firm believer that just because one has a house, a family, a comfortable life, doesn’t mean they can’t be sad. Or stressed. Or depressed.

In fact, people constantly telling them how lucky they are may amplify that sadness.

I bring this up because I think I may be in the stage of travel where the culture shock gets to me. I changed all my clocks to military time and all my calendars to date/month/year, and this little change has had me railing. Not to mention I started all of my classes today, and had to book a flight with crashing internet, and had to deal with the library for the first time and smacking my head off the underside of my bunkbed and ahhh!

But I’m in a freaking castle in the Netherlands. I’m so lucky. I should appreciate it–I DO appreciate it! I appreciate it so much. I know I’m so lucky. I know I shouldn’t complain about these little things, or that I miss my family and friends.

That’s another thing–am I allowed to miss my family and friends? After all, I left them. It was my choice, nothing made me go. In fact, I fought hard to make this happen, and now I have the gall to complain about crashing internet and a bit of stress?

The irony, of course, is that this all just keeps raising my blood pressure. I’m sure I’m just overthinking. Travel is stressful, for everyone. A new place, a new country, is hard too. Being away from literally everyone you’ve ever met is challenging. Not to mention, starting a new semester of college. I suppose I’m allowed to be a little stressed.

But then again, it’s a castle. How could I possibly complain?

Pretending to be an extrovert

There are occasions throughout life when being an introvert is not ideal. A semester abroad is one of those times.

Since the Boston airport I’ve been chatting with people, joining groups on a whim, striking up conversations, and sustaining small talk. It’s been exhausting, but also really nice. I went from having no friends and being really nervous to having plenty of friends and lots of travel plans.

Throughout the week I kept bonding with whomever I could. It’s been difficult but lovely, and it became easier the more I did it. I think it’s good to be able to pretend to be an extrovert.

However, it is not a mask I can wear for too long. Thank goodness for no-class Mondays! I spent today, everyone’s first day of class, on a solo bike ride down a lovely Dutch bike trail. I saw some cute animals along the way, like two horses, some cows, some sheep, and even a small herd of deer that someone had kept as farm animals (or pets? I’m not sure). Then I got back to my room I share with two other girls, and it was empty. What a rarity! I caught up on my YouTube shows and ate a few Stroopwafels, allowing myself to unwind.

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I was impressed with my ability to make friends in such a hectic, crazy, beautiful, wonderful place. I feel like I’ve already grown as a person while in the Netherlands, and it’s only been four days!

More importantly, I can see now where I may have gone wrong before, like with high school and the beginning of college. There are some introverts here, I can tell. They sit alone at meals, they don’t talk before class. I realize now that seeming shut off to the world like that can make one seem unappealing to befriend. A bit of reservedness is fine, but appearing too introverted can, I would say, be a bad thing.

Perhaps when one can’t be alone, one should embrace company. Nothing is wrong with reading at night, or a solo-stroll around the grounds, or any other time alone, but when I must be with people I will BE with people. Openly, honestly, 100%.

Basically, I don’t feel the need to hide myself anymore. And I feel good about that.

Kids

I have the three most adorable younger cousins I could possibly ask for. Aged 5, 3, and 8 months, they are one of the things I will miss most during my three months away.

Today, the oldest (and most emotional) found out that I was leaving.

“No you’re not,” he said after my dad told him. I was unaware we were telling them, just sitting on the floor with the baby. “I’m gonna ask my dad.”

“I promise you, she is.”

I told him to be excited! I was going to stay in a castle! He told me castles didn’t exist, they were just pretend.

I told him I wouldn’t be gone long, and I’d be back before Christmas. Soon I got him to stop crying. He said it was OK as long as I was going in a plane instead of a car.

I love those kids so much. It hurts me to hurt them.

 

Whenever I see them, I leave either wanting to have kids immediately or never ever wanting a child, ever. I’m twenty. These feelings are probably rather natural.

I certainly don’t want a kid now. I’m too young, I’m too immature. I certainly want to be settled down with a stable job before even thinking about kids. However, a time in which I’m stable is likely not too far off.

I think being an introverted, anxiety-prone parent must be difficult. I would never get time alone, and I’d never get time to work on hobbies (or writing!). I want to travel and eat in nice restaurants and have nice clothes and sleep through the night, and it feels like kids take that away.

On the other hand, I love kids. I love teaching, I love reading to them, I love hearing their stories, I love showing them new things. I love them a lot.

I guess the deal is that I know I would be a good mother to a child. But it may not be good for me. I would give everything I have to it, but would have no energy left for myself, and I think it’s fair to not be ready for that.

Then again, what do I know? Like I said, I’m only twenty. There are probably plenty of parents and non-parents alike reading this and shaking their heads at my innocence, at my ignorance.

Ah, well. This is all a problem for Future Tina to figure out. Right now, Present Tina only has to worry about my job and preparing for Europe.

 

I really hate hurting him though. I know, little buddy, it’s hard to leave someone you love. But it’s not that long. And it will be easier than you think.

Alone again

Seems like I can never be happy on this blog, can I? I think it’s because I use it when I’m feeling down. Writing out my feelings makes me feel better, so I end up blogging at low points.

My boyfriend is gone, and I am alone again. Being in a long distance relationship is hard, especially going back into one after a months-long paradise of being together practically every day.

I’ve improved, mentally, so much since last time. Since mid-January when he headed off to Mexico. I’ve improved 100-fold. I no longer feel devastated, lost, isolated. I have my family, however weakly-held together it is, and I have my friends. If I open my mind, I have plenty to do and plenty of people to do it with. I will get crafty, I will knit to my heart’s content, I will clean every corner of the house, I will learn to use a curling iron and learn to crochet and learn to bake bread. I will learn every song in my ukulele book. I will write fiction, I will write articles, I will update my blog more and more.

I will be okay. But now, so soon after he’s gone, so soon after the summer has ended, I feel alone. Not lonely, because of all I’ve already said. Just alone.

In the car, when I was driving away though everything in me wanted to stay, I could still feel the imprint of his lips, the weight of his hands,  the tenseness in my neck from resting it on his shoulder. It’s impossible to think I won’t see him again until Christmas. It hurt me to type that. It hurts me to think that way. So I won’t. I just won’t.

It’s  not bottling: it’s feeling, accepting, and tossing out. I cried long and loud and messy, on the drive home, and now I’m done. I’m done with that feeling. I can do this. It won’t be so hard this time, it won’t be so hard this time, I will chant that like a mantra until even I believe it.

But for now…before I move on, before it becomes easy, before we find our rhythm of when to text, call, Skype, while I can still imagine his voice with clarity, I’m allowed to feel alone. And I do feel alone.

I’m an introvert, I like being alone. I guess it’s a different kind of alone. It’s not a quick aloneness. It’s both longer and shorter than it seems. I’ll be away from him for awhile, but I’ll be with others soon. They will patch the hole.

I will be okay. We will be okay.

I am okay.

Infodump: The Musical

I love the sound strawberries make when you cut off their top. You can hear their hollowness. They’re so rubbery.

I’m eating strawberries as I write this, for the full picture. I think visuals are important, especially in a musical. I’m calling this post a musical because it’s going to be like one of those montage musical numbers, when they build the barn or train for battle or Simba grows up while walking across a log or whatever.

Hi. I’m Christina. I know it’s been awhile, so, hi. What have I been up to, during this summer of non-blogging? I’ve been working, writing for a local paper. I’ve been cooking a lot, I’ve been getting better at ukulele, I’ve been DM’ing a Dungeons and Dragons campaign for my friends from high school, I’ve been playing Pokemon Go, I’ve been enjoying these rare months being in the same state as my boyfriend, and, somehow, I’ve been writing fiction in between. I’ve also been knitting, sewing, crafting, reading. I’m reading Lord of the Flies now since I never did in school and, my, it’s (unsurprisingly) amazing.

I leave for the Netherlands in three weeks. I’ll be travellouging a bit on here I’m sure, as I said I would. I’m thinking of also doing a separate travellouge for my family. I’m also also thinking of doing a travellouge in the voice of Bojack Horseman.

The Netflix series Bojack Horseman is one of my absolute favorite shows of all time, and I thought it might be fun and soul-searchy to write a blog as if I were Bojack. I made a little Bojack doll out of old shirts. We’ll see what happens.

What else? I went to Newport Folk Festival, what a wonderful time. I got into wearing sunhats.I feel like every sentence I write could have been a blogpost, so this musical idea kinda works.

I missed venting to the internet.

As for my head, I’ve been managing myself alright. I’m nervous about having to make new friends overseas, but I’ll manage. Somehow, I’ll manage.

For now, I just have to say goodbye to my boyfriend (again…again) and pack, and in three weeks I can worry about the “friend” business.

The strawberries are gone. The music fades, just like summer.

Hi. I’m Christina, and this is Introvert Playground!

Adaptable

I’ve always found one of the most compelling things about the human species is its adaptability. To live so successfully in nearly every climate in every corner of the globe is amazing in both its perseverance and its stubbornness.

I do wonder sometimes what people would do if their land didn’t feel like a part of them. Perhaps everyone would make like the retired do and move to warmer climes. I doubt anyone would look to the harsh winters and disappointing summers of Massachusetts and choose it over the consistent loveliness of Aruba, if given the choice.

But, land does matter, and so people adapt–stubbornly, wonderfully. They adapt to having an ice scraper in their car at all times, even in July. They adapt to sudden heat waves followed by a week of sleeting rain. Here, we adapt to unpredictability. Perhaps it is a side effect of living in New England that makes me equate land to weather, but it is an important thing.

Beyond weather and land, people still adapt. They adapt to long commutes, to suffocating subways, to polluted cities or quiet nights. Moving out, moving in, people being born or dying. Nothing feels abnormal if it happens enough times.

It is this inane ability to adapt to whatever life throws at us that makes me wonder if we are meant to be a wandering species. I know we were at first, but then agriculture happened and now here we are. After the huge leap of my great-great-grandfather moving to America from Italy, my family has lived in the same 20 square miles ever since. Now, I feel a deep inner pull to leave. To adapt to somewhere else.

Maybe those who stayed in one place adapted to staying. Staying eventually felt normal to them. Maybe I’ll eventually feel that way, too.

Driving for nearly three hours every day has begun to feel normal for me. I don’t mind it anymore. I’ve adapted. Sitting in a cubicle for eight hours straight no longer makes my eyes hurt from the computer screens. I’ve adapted to these things I thought I never would, in an exceptionally short amount of time.

Let’s go back to weather for a moment. I’m sure everyone has an inkling that warmer weather makes people happier, and I believe it’s true. However, more than the cold, I think the unpredictability of New England weather has a profound effect on the population. Yes, we’ve adapted to the unpredictability, armed with layered clothing and umbrellas at all times. But it makes us anxious. Having to prepare for anything weather-wise makes us wary of other things too. Perhaps that is why my grandmother clutches her purse in the city as if it may be taken at any moment. Perhaps that is why I look both ways when  crossing one-way streets, my faith in drivers so low as to expect someone to go down the wrong way. Perhaps that is why so few of my family members have left the western hemisphere or gone below the equator. They always expect a sudden change, they expect the dangerous and unexpected due to their upbringing spent expecting a sudden snowstorm to brew from a mild morning.

When people have adapted to an ever-changing world (be it due to weather, technology, globalization…) they can’t help but feel anxious and pessimistic. Whatever is present—the sunny sky, the new iPhone, peace in the world, the economy—is only temporary, and will soon change for the worse.

We are adaptable, but some embrace that and some shy away. Some refuse to adapt more than necessary. Some don’t find it a hassle at all. Some adapt by moving, and some adapt by sitting still. No matter our view on it, it’s part of what makes us human and a huge part of what keeps us alive.