Living in Orlando

Working at Walt Disney World is all well and good, but when you’re here for five months you start to realize that there’s other parts of Orlando outside the Big Cheese, and you have the time to explore them.

Which is a long way of saying that we went to Universal.

I'm pretty sure Harry didn't have to deal with all these Muggles when he went to Hogwarts.

I’m pretty sure Harry didn’t have to deal with all these Muggles when he went to Hogwarts.

The big allure, of course, is Harry Potter land. For those who don’t actually know me or my family, here’s some background: I love Harry Potter. It’s a family thing. My mother read the books out loud to me and my siblings when I was six years old, and even when the seventh book came out we read it together, out loud. It took a month. It was one of the best things my family ever did together, because it was our thing. So Harry is special, okay?

So on Saturday, Valentine’s Day, I just so happened to have off, and my friend Ryann so happened to have off, and we decided to go ahead and storm the castle.

Here’s what you’ve probably already guessed about Universal on Valentine’s Day: it’s crowded.

It’s so crowded you can’t really move.

You also can’t get on any rides.

Yup, I guess it's seventh book Harry Potter. Even though there's Wanted posters for Sirius Black. The time line is a little confusing.

Yup, I guess it’s seventh book Harry Potter. Even though there’s Wanted posters for Sirius Black. The time line is a little confusing.

But you can shop! And when you have Knockturn Alley and Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes to shop at, not to mention Honeydukes, the Leaky Cauldron, and Hogwarts itself, shopping is a lot of fun. I bought a Ravenclaw sweater, because I’m getting paid now and I can. Ryann bought a wand and flicked it at things. And–because the world is actually magical–stuff happens when you flick your wand.

But let’s go back to that crowded thing. I kind of forgot that Valentine’s Day fell on President’s Day Weekend, so there were crowds everywhere. I worked Sunday and Monday, and Muppets was up to a half hour wait at times both of those days. Muppets. A word to the wise (or weary): don’t go to Disney on the weekend if you can avoid it. Especially avoid holiday weekends. And don’t go on Muppets if there’s a week. If you come any time after six o’clock there’s no wait. Jussaying.

What else do you learn in Orlando when you live here?

Traffic is a bear. Especially on Sundays. Some genius put a huge Catholic church right next to College Program housing which, okay, is nice for those of us CPs who are Catholic, but it ties up traffic like nothing else on Sundays. So you learn to go around.

This going around gave me another first in my life: the first time I ever called 9-1-1.

Dale kissed me and the photographer was laughing because I turned red.

Dale kissed me and the photographer was laughing because I turned red.

So we were going down the street. Crawling down the street, because traffic was just about at a stand-still. It was Sunday and we were trying to get to Target to grab half price Valentine’s Day candy. “What the hell,” Elisa, my roommate, who was driving, doesn’t do traffic well. Really, who does? So she slapped the steering wheel and we waiting twenty minutes to go a mile up to the left turn light.

Where we figured out the source of the problem. In Florida, sometimes, there’s two left-turn lanes. In the right-hand left turn lane, about ten yards away from the light, someone had abandoned their car. The lights weren’t on, and the car wasn’t running, and no one was in it.

“Well, that’s dangerous,” I said, peering at the car. “We’re going to witness an accident right here. Wait til it gets dark. Someone’s gonna die because some guy just left his car.”

Being the very safety conscious Disney employees we are, Elisa gave me her phone and I called 9-1-1. It was a bit of a let down for my first time, since the woman on the other end of the line got my info and hung up in about a minute. But when we drove back there was a police car directing people around the abandoned vehicle.

Selfies with characters is the new big thing. Apparently.

Selfies with characters is the new big thing. Apparently.

The moral of the story is threefold: don’t try to drive in Orlando on a Sunday. Don’t abandon your car. And if you see something strange, say something.

One more little story about what happens at Disney when it rains.

Hint: we don’t have a giant dome to put up over the parks. (I actually get asked about this mythical dome at least once every time it rains. And the people are dead serious.)

Nope, it’s Disney water, so it’s a really goo illusion of you getting actually wet. What happens is that all the rides get weirdly busy. Except the outdoor ones. Another word to the wise: if it’s raining, stay, because a lot of people think they’re going to melt if they get wet and lines do get shorter. But as an extra pro tip, when it’s already raining is a great time to get on a water ride like Splash Mountain or the Kali River Rapids. You’re wet anyway. Might as well enjoy it.

And don’t linger under the awnings of Muppets. I will nudge you out into the rain.

 

Welcome to the Muppet Show

One of my creative writing teachers said that a good rule of thumb for writing was to take people, “behind the velvet rope.” That learning inside information was what keeps people interested. That’s why everyone likes crime shows, or talent competitions, because it makes something that usually looks complicated transparent.

Want to go behind the velvet rope at Disney?

Everyone knows that the Magic Kingdom has tunnels, but in Hollywood Studios there’s no such luxury, just a ring around the park where trucks, cars, and cast members try not to run into each other. It’s a long loop, and there’s lots of short cuts. Like to get out of Muppets at the end of the day, go through Pizza Planet. Or, in a pinch, Star Tours is a good escape.

(the important thing is not to cross the threshold of another ride while wearing your costume. this is huge in Magic Kingdom, where there’s different Lands, and seeing a Fantasyland person in Adventureland might mess up the space-time continuum. in Studios, it’s just a matter of making sure someone wearing a Muppets costume doesn’t go off the regular path.)

Once you’re actually at Muppets, there’s five positions. Muppets can technically run, I’m pretty sure, with only three people operating the show. That’s because safety is Disney’s number one concern, and it’s pretty easy to keep the Muppet Show safe. It’s ride like Star Tours or the Jungle Cruise that takes a minimum of, like, fifteen people to run.

Sometimes you spend so long at one part that it's hard to remember the others exist.

Sometimes you spend so long at one part that it’s hard to remember the others exist.

Which means, naturally, that there’s just less people around at Muppets. About ten regulars who shuffle ourselves around and could be there at any time. It would be a quiet and easy-going atmosphere if the Frozen Sing-Along wasn’t at a temporary theater next door. Which means more people around! Which I love. Especially at the end of the night–and College Program people always close–it’s nice to see that the entire world hasn’t emptied out.

Most of what varies your day is, naturally, the guests you interact with. That’s honestly the best part of the job. There’s a position called “greeter” where you do just that–greet people. Be friendly. We have stickers that we give away. Stickers fix everything. Stickers fix tears and long lines and probably broken bones.

My shifts are mostly around six hours long, which means that I get the mornings to–well, to be lazy mostly. And write blogs.

The worst thing that happens of Muppets is you get bored. Usually not before 5 pm, when there’s still people around. But after 5, everyone’s grabbing dinner, heading to Fantasmic, and the Muppet courtyard dies. The little carts close up. Pizza Planet closes up. We’re all alone, still running shows for 20ish people.

(if you want a private viewing of just about any show in the park, Muppets or Frozen or Fantasmic, go to the latest one offered. Pro tip right there.)

And that’s my job. Come see me and Muppets sometime.

There’s obviously weird things that happen. I found a lost child on my first day. She was standing in front of me, turning around in a circle, saying, “I can’t find my mommy,” which was a pretty good indication as to her state of lostness. So I gave her a sticker, she stopped crying, and I talked to her for five minutes before a woman found us and snatched her away and glared at me. Now, obviously people are pretty emotional when they find out their little princess is just gone, but thank yous go a long way and this woman just stalked off. The little girl said goodbye though, which was adorable.

When I get out early I watch Fantasmic. Because Mickey.

When I get out early I watch Fantasmic. Because Mickey.

And the bus at the end of the night is always a good place to hear horror stories, because there’s people from all over the park trying to get home and complaining about the rudest people they had. It’s a weird human thing that we don’t remember the legions of perfectly polite people who come through. It’s the awful people who stick in your head and stay there.

Obviously though I’m not spending my whole day at work. When I come home, I usually go right back out again to a park, or to grab dinner. When I get alone time–usually in the mornings, as I seem to be incapable of sleeping past 8 am and every other self-respecting 20-year-old is out until noon–I write, which is incredibly therapeutic. I’m slowly tackling a novel, but it’s so full of fantasy politics that I spend half my work day thinking over made-up problems. And I’m not reading as much as I’d like, which is probably what’s frying my brain.

I did make time to go back up to Tallahassee. That’s right, this girl who abhors driving took the plunge and made it the four hours, or 280 miles, from Orlando to Tallahassee. It wasn’t so bad, actually. Listened to a lot of TED Talks. Yelled at other drivers who couldn’t hear me.

And I got to see my girls. Don’t get me wrong, I like everyone I’ve met at Disney. Just about everyone is up to talk to you for a bus ride, or twenty minutes between shifts, or whatever, but I’ve truly clicked with all of one person, and since she’s working at a resort her schedule is the exact opposite of mine.

paisley-sign-33

                    aka Paramecium Cafe.

So it was great to see everyone. Have a Super Bowl party with pizza and tequila and much shouting at Tom Brady’s lack of tears. Grab lunch with Patricia and proceed to spend the whole afternoon talking about Disney and tv shows and the 2016 Presidential Election. Celebrate a birthday. Go to favorite restaurants. Leave too soon.

I feel like that last part too much defines my post-high school life. Every semester I seem to be moving. I feel like I left London too soon, and every one of my many roommates too soon. I don’t miss school, but I miss my friends, every one of whom have left me too soon.

At least we have Facebook now. And too long blog posts.

Traditions, Tradition, and a Passing of an Era

Okay, if you know me in real life (irl as the kids are saying today–I just learned that one) then you’ll know what I have to say next. If you don’t know me and want to skip to the Disney part of this blog, too bad, real life sometimes happens too.

My grandfather, grandmother, and the whole brood of grandchildren. Christmas 2011.

My grandfather, grandmother, and the whole brood of grandchildren. Christmas 2011.

Four days after I arrived at the Disney College Program, the day before I was supposed to go through Traditions, I got a call from my father around noon that my grandfather had passed away early that morning. It wasn’t unexpected news, but expecting something doesn’t mean you can’t still be surprised by it. My grandfather, my father’s father, is someone who will always be remembered for his generosity, and his large and loving family. And, of course, his many wonderful delicious recipes. He would tell jokes, long story jokes, that my brother learned dutifully and would pass off as his own. When I was six, he taught me to play Yahtzee, and said he should bring me to Vegas to clean out that joint. I was six, enjoyed any attention I could get from adults, and for the next ten years proceeded to play Yahtzee every time I went to my grandparents’ house.

I got to see him last week, while he was in the hospital, while he was still talking.

I can’t talk about this any more. Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 9.26.01 AM

I asked around to see if it was possible to go back home for the funeral on Monday and got the same reaction everywhere: sympathy while saying that my training could be pushed back by two or three weeks by any unexpected absence.

They said that once I got my real schedule (in like a week and a half) I could switch shifts for some time to get home. Which was totally unhelpful.

Meaning all the other grandchildren are there and I’m in the most magical place on earth. This is the weirdest juxtaposition of my life.

I never believed in putting my very personal life on the internet, but some of the rest of the story won’t make much sense if you don’t know what every other member of my family is doing this weekend. And why if there was ever a time I would wish to not be in Disney World, it would be now, just so I could be with them.

Okay. On with the Disney stuff.

Every single Disney cast member, from custodial staff to monorail operators to character performers, go through a job orientation called “Traditions.” This includes a brief overview of the company and the important aspects of the general job you’ll be doing.

Only thing missing from this is my name tag, which is very fancy and I asked them to redo because I am not really a Kathryn.

Only thing missing from this is my name tag, which is very fancy and I asked them to redo because I am not really a Kathryn.

Hint: it has to do with making people happy. In the Happiest Place on Earth, that’s a top priority (not the top priority, which is safety, but safety is not nearly as awesome as creating happiness. Yeah, when you work at Disney, you’re expected to/get to create happiness out of thin air. And they do. And it’s awesome.)

Part of Traditions includes going through the tunnels under the Magic Kingdom. Notice there is no picture of this because cameras are very much forbidden and you can get fired on the spot. So: word picture.

Behind the Magic Kingdom is a bus stop that lets cast members off at Disney University/West Clock (did you know there was a Disney University? This is where we oriented ourselves. It has the best wall decorations I’ve ever seen. Also clean bathrooms.) From this bus stop you take another bus to the tunnels.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the tunnels. They’re not actually underground, they’re on the first level. All of the Magic Kingdom is built on the second level. There are pipes overhead that use suction power to get all the park’s trash over to big dumpsters. Most of where we were in the tunnels–from Fantasyland to Main Street–smelled like baked goods and Disney magic.

One of the best things to see is everyone mingling backstage in different costumes. This effect is even better at the apartment bus stops, where you can watch one person going to work at Expedition: Everest in Animal Kingdom, another on their way to Africa in Epcot, and they’re standing next to a cast member going to Tomorrowland and another heading off to Star Tours. It’s bizarre and makes me smile every time (that picture will come when I catch a cool crowd.)

Anyway, Traditions. We went through the tunnels then went up Main Street to see the castle and watch cast members in action. This was almost the end of our Traditions class. We had already gotten Mickey ears, and little figurines for answering questions, and we were pretty content.

Mickey Mouse was IN MY CLASSROOM

Mickey Mouse was IN MY CLASSROOM!!

Until a very special guest arrived with out name tags.

Have you ever been greeted to your first day on the job by Mickey Mouse himself?

It’s pretty frickin cool guys.

And Traditions meant more than meeting my new boss and getting swag–it meant we finally got entrance to the parks! Which means, of course, Magic Kingdom.

If you ever have three hours in which to do the best of the best, follow our lead: parade, pretzels in Tomorrowland, Haunted Mansion, Tiki Room, Jungle Cruise, fireworks, Mine Carts.

It doesn’t have to be in that order but it should be because why ruin a good thing?

Definitely do a night cruise if you’re going to stop by the Jungle Cruise. Everyone is 1000% sassier. We got jokes about measles in Disneyland. Things get real.

(though nothing is more real than Eeyore doing a choreographed dance to “Let It Go,” which is the sight we glimpsed directly afterwards. Nothing in this world is more precious than that morose donkey standing in front of the crystal palace jamming to a musical number.)

Then Wishes. Which made me cry cuz I’m a sap.

My roommates left me this note when I got back from Traditions. MK means "Magic Kingdom."

My roommates left me this note when I got back from Traditions. MK means “Magic Kingdom.”

We grabbed Steak n’ Shake on the way home, talked about grammar, and I passed out in preparation for another 5 am wake up call.

5 am led to a distinctly less exciting school day. No Mickey, but lots more safety instruction from people who really loved Disney. Everyone really loves Disney here, which you think would be a no-brainer but leaves you with lots of ice breakers in case you needed something sharp to break through the January permafrost. “What’s your role?” of course but also “What’s your favorite movie/character/park/ride?” Everyone talks, for now, until we start work and 4 am wake up calls are the norm.

After a class that very closely resembled a high school schedule (5 am wake up? check. lunch tables segregated by ‘who’s hot and who’s not’? check) I headed back to the apartment to change before going out to Hollywood Studios.

And I tossed some laundry in because why not. Then I headed over to Hollywood Studios to check out what my costumes could look like (range from awesome to boring. What am I going to be doing?!?) and of course watch the best of the best shows, Beauty and the Beast and Fantasmic. I may be slightly obsessed with Fantasmic. I tear up every time. I rally am a sap.

Disney things I learned today: Fantasmic is my favorite thing in all of Hollywood Studios. Fantasmic is my favorite thing in the parks. I hope I still love it even if I watch it every night. There’s a hidden Mickey in the ballroom scene of Haunted Mansion. Also in the graveyard. You’ll have to visit me to figure out exactly where.

To my family: wish I could be there with you guys. I hope to see you soon.

To everyone else: Be nice to cast members. Keep on reading. I hope to tell you all the good parts.

The Disney College Program

I began college with an adventure, going to London for eight months and Florence for three, spending my first year traveling Europe and eating too much and making the best friends.

So I decided to end college with an adventure–graduating early and going to Walt Disney World to work for a semester. I applied for the Disney College Program back in September and got offered a role before the end of the month, as an attractions operator.

Okay. That’s enough of a recap. Here’s what’s new:

View from the autotrain. I think this is a sunset in North Carolina

View from the autotrain. I think this is a sunset in North Carolina

On Saturday morning, my father drove with me down to Lorton, Virginia so I could get the autotrain. There were no complications, I got there, gave over my car, got on the train, and proceeded to have the worst sleep of my life. But what else do you expect when you’re on a train traveling a thousand miles down to Orlando, Florida?

So if you need your car in Florida and you don’t have anyone to road trip with you, take the autotrain. It’s more comfortable than a plane and you get to feel very old-school “riding the rails.”

Of course, none of this was the interesting part. The interesting part is what was waiting on the other end of the autotrain ride–Disney World, and a job, and all new people.

I met one of these new people within my first four hours of being in Orlando. Elisa is my roommate, and she also got Attractions. We went to the free parts of Disney–hotels and Downtown Disney, which is in the throes of renovation–before grabbing dinner and going to bed. I was under the covers before 8:30. I haven’t done that since the third grade.

All of the craziness was lead-up for check-in day, yesterday, when Elisa and I woke up at seven to start getting paperwork done by eight. The very first thing that happened was I got handed a book, and on the book was a sticker, and on the sticker was my location.

HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS–ICON ATTRACTIONS.

My first thought was “huh. That’s not the Jungle Cruise.”

Inside the casting building "rotunda" room. Not pictured: Minnie Mouse, Dumbo, Roger Rabbit, and Thumper, among others.

Inside the casting building “rotunda” room. Not pictured: Minnie Mouse, Dumbo, Roger Rabbit, and Thumper, among others.

The reason I’m doing the college program to begin with is because the very first person I met on my very first adventure in college had just finished her semester at Disney. She was a Jungle Cruise skipper and had had a wonderful time. She also became my best friend. I wanted, more than anything, to be a skipper.

Of course, if you know anything about Hollywood Studios, you know that the Jungle Cruise is not there.

You know what is Icon Attractions? Star Tours. Muppet Vision. The Tower of Terror. Beauty and the Beast. And, my favorite, The Great Movie Ride.

Basically, all the best stuff.

I won’t know until this weekend exactly which ride I’m working on, but for now I know I’m in a park, my second-favorite one (there were people in line with me who were being sent to EPCOT, which is huge and hot, or Downtown Disney, which is barely even a park, so I’d say I got a good deal.) The more I think about working at MGM–sorry, Hollywood Studios, I’m going to have to start calling it by its real name–the more excited I get. No terrible Magic Kingdom hours. A slightly older crowd. Fantasmic every night.

Anyway, after I got checked in I got an itinerary that basically lists what I’m doing with the rest of my life. Or at least the rest of my week. I went through casting this morning and got a Traditions time for 6:55 am on Friday (Disney does weird things sometimes, like telling you to be places at 6:55 am when most people round up to 7.) After Traditions I get a pretty new ID card that will get me into the Disney Parks for free for the rest of the semester!

The girls I’m living with have all gone through the program before and are amazingly generous with their knowledge. I’ve discovered that my new favorite question is “what’s your role?” (In a pinch, “where are you from?” and “what school do you go to?” work too.)

The Casting Building across from Downtown Disney is the only building on Disney World property to feature Alice in Wonderland doorknobs.

“You’re much too big. Simply impassable.”

I’ve also discovered that meeting roommates is the same everywhere. Easiest way to do it: volunteer to make dinner within the first three days. Make sure everyone shows up to dinner. Talk.

(I started this blog post at 3:30 this afternoon and am finishing nine hours later because I’ve been talking to my roommates for nine hours.)

Disney things I learned today: The Casting building has Alice in Wonderland doorknobs. Buzz Lightyear’s original name was “Lunar Larry.” There’s a store behind Magic Kingdom filled with broken, damaged, or weirdly made items that cast members can buy for a huge discount. My roommate once stood outside a closed ride and sent people away because George Clooney was shooting inside.

More facts to follow. Keep up with me, readers. It’s going to be a fun semester.

Getting Published, and Other News

So I’m graduating in two weeks.

I’m still trying to focus on getting my finals finished, so there’s no sappy I-can’t-believe-I’m-done post yet. That will come. I really cannot believe how much fun I’ve had these past four years. How much I’ve learned and changed and loved and grown. I cannot believe how lucky I was to meet the amazing young men and women who became my best friends.

But we’re not talking about them yet. We’re talking about me.

I want to be a published author. I want to write books. In order to do this, I’ve found that the only sure-fire way to get any kind of success is to write. A lot. I write in diaries and in my notebooks. Instead of listening in lectures I’ll write stories. Instead of doing math homework in high school I’d write fanfiction. This has paid off into exactly $2,050 payout after, literally, millions of words written. Most of that came in the form of a writing scholarship I won in high school.Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 1.20.23 PM

One of the biggest steps towards becoming a published writer is to actually be published. This is another thing that has a pretty common sense sure-fire method: you submit to a lot of publications.

I began submitting to magazines when I was in high school. Maybe even before then. Nothing.

A smarter person would be deterred by the obvious lack of interest in the ramblings of a teenager. But I had tenacity and time and so I kept submitting. And, you know, even a broken clock get it right twice a day

This past summer, I submitted a story to Fabula Press, previously Quill & Ink, for an anthology of short stories about summer called “Aestas.”

The weird thing was that I’d just finished a story about a band. It takes place in the summer of 1984 and is about coming of age when you don’t even know who you want to become. It’s confusing to be in your early twenties, and I wanted to make sure that confusion came across in the dying shore band atmosphere of the mid-eighties. I hadn’t written the story with a specific goal in mind. It was after school ended, so I wasn’t going to workshop it. I just felt compelled to write about these specific characters.

It worked out. I submitted the 15-page story to the press and promptly forgot about it.

This past summer I worked as an intern at a wonderful literary agency in New York City, which meant I spent about forty minutes a day commuting in and out of the city. I mastered the train and the paperback. On the day I was running late and feeling awful about it, my phone buzzed with an email. Remember that magazine you submitted to and promptly forgot about? You’re shortlisted for publication. Whittled down from many submissions to the final eleven. You’re in.

I felt like I’d swallowed the sun.

Anyway, three months later I’ve gotten more emails from them, keeping all the authors updated, and in the middle of what promises to be one of the coldest winters in history, there’s a magazine being published that’s all about summer. And I’m in it.

If you wanted to check out the magazine, or buy it, or convince other people to buy it, it’s for sale on Amazon here.

Expect more from me soon. I’m not going anywhere.

UPDATE: Gunman Killed, 3 Injured at Shooting in Strozier Library

katie avagliano:

I cannot believe we had to write this article. I’m proud of my magazine’s efforts to report the facts of the case while it is happening. Last night I stayed up until 4 am with one of our writers as he drafted the original post of this terrible event. The atmosphere at Florida State University is indescribable right now. Classes were cancelled. People are angry, or confused, or sad, or frightened. Students and faculty have gathered for vigils and prayer throughout the day.

You do not measure the strength of a university by it’s football record. We are not Unconquered because of the points on a scoreboard. Today, we are Unconquered because we do not allow ourselves to be shaken by events that have rattled the ground beneath our feet.

I am proud to be a Seminole.

Originally posted on The Last Word:

A sad, shocking, senseless act of violence.

Those are just some of the words used by university professors in emails to describe the shooting incident at Florida State’s Strozier library, a symbol of academic pursuit at FSU, where around 350-400 students were gathered as they worked on projects, studied for exams, and were busy catching up with their reading assignments.

florida-state-university-shooting-ap617093239755

But at around 12:30AM, multiple shots were heard at FSU’s Strozier Library. Eight minutes later, a “dangerous situation” was reported by the Florida State University Police Department.

Cassidy Nicholas, a sophomore who was in the first floor at Strozier near Starbucks as the shooting occurred, described the chaotic scene to The Last Word.

She initially heard 2 gunshots, describing them as “sounding like fireworks.”

“People began to frantically run, I got my stuff and my computer and held the door open for 20 people since I thought it was a…

View original 521 more words

The Care and Keeping of an Extrovert

Until I was in college, I could have sworn I was an introvert.

I had never taken a psychology course, but because I liked to spend five or six hours a day reading and writing, I just assumed I was introverted (I had the same problem in grammar school, where I assumed that because I liked “nerdy” things and bad-ass female characters I had to be a tomboy, when really dresses and makeup are so much fun to wear.) Never having learned the difference, I assumed extroverted people liked loud, CW-channel-type parties. I always wanted to stay home and have one or two friends over and play board games with my siblings.

For those who don’t know, the difference between being an introvert and an extrovert is that an introvert draws their energy from within, usually by spending hours or days alone to “recharge,” and extroverts get all their energy from other people. When I heard the definition my sophomore year of college I was like, “Oh, wait. I’m the second one. Really?”

You see, by then I had discovered the internet. And the internet is not kind to extroverts.

Don't know why wanting to be around people means that I don't love Harry Potter or Elizabeth Bennet but that's the vibe I've been getting recently.

Don’t know why wanting to be around people means that I can’t also love Harry Potter or Elizabeth Bennet but that’s the vibe I’ve been getting recently.

 

I’ve never been one who cares much about what people on the interwebs think about my personality type, but lately (read: since college) I’ve felt more needy than ever. One of my friends says this is because I grew up in a big family, but neither of my sisters or my father are extroverts in the slightest; me, my brother, and my mom are. Which leads me to believe that I was born this way.

Lately I’ve been feeling attacked by all the introvert stuff that pops up on the web:

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Or this or this or this.

The bigger problem is that just about all of the friends I’ve made in college are introverts. And I’m the worst kind of extrovert–I want people to stay with me all day and let me write and read and talk and watch Netflix but I don’t want to go to clubs or bars to meet new people. So the friends I’ve found are the ones I’ve got, and I try to be mindful of their introverted-ness.

But man, it sucks sometimes.

The Big Deal here is that, as the one in constant want of people, I’m the one always reaching out to friends. Let’s do something. Want to get together later? Lunch tomorrow? What are you up to this weekend? I’ll cook if you watch shows with me. Let’s go to the movies. I’m really feeling a book store right now. (I’m reading the texts I’ve sent in the last week. All of these conversations were initiated by me.)

NECESSARY ASIDE: The comment I don’t need right here is, “but you should learn how to be alone.” I hate being alone. It drives me to depression and anxiety. I am a wonderfully normal, stable, happy, garrulous person as long as someone else is breathing the oxygen around me. If introverts can have their solitude and insist on not being harassed for that, than I can have my company.

NECESSARY ASIDE #2: Needing people doesn’t mean I’m not a fully realized individual. I know myself. I know I want to be a writer, I want to teach, I want to do good in the world. I know my stance on political and social issues. I know all the captains of the star ship Enterprise. I am just as fully-formed as any introvert, with just as many thoughts and feelings and a heart that can be broken.extrovert-vs-introvert

Which is why I’m writing all of this. The world may be made for extroverts, but I feel like, increasingly, college is not. And what do I do when an introverted friend breaks plans? I immediately try to make new ones. I apologize as if it’s my fault for wanting to hang out. I feel bad for monopolizing people’s time when I get the impression they’d rather be on tumblr than listening to me stress about grad school applications.

What I’m saying is that being an extrovert is not easy. Not that being an introvert is bad, and not that I’m trying to make introverts into extroverts, but extroverts need people to unwind–all I want to do after a long day at school or working on applications is eat dinner and drink with my roommate and talk to her about my day, and up until the moment I do it I’m afraid she’ll bail or another friend will bail and I’m left alone again. Because we need people so much, I feel like I’m always the one putting more into relationships.

For example, I’ll do anything to head off an argument, because I’ve found that with my introverted friends, if they’re mad they’ll just disappear. And they’ll say it’s to get back in the right headspace, that they just need some time to recharge, but while they’re recharging I’m crying myself to sleep because I’m feeling abandoned and used.

So when all of these “respect your introvert” or “benefits of being an introvert” articles pop up on my Facebook, I start getting frustrated. Is it so difficult to ask to “respect your extrovert”?

And I don’t mean one person has to hang out with me 24/7 (although that would be nice) — extroverts don’t get to be college-aged without figuring out how to schedule away their free time, partitioning days between friends and family and significant others. It’s the little things introverts can do that would help extroverts immensely.

This makes extroverts sound like we have the emotional maturity of clingy four-year-olds, but a little of this wouldn't hurt anyone, I guess.

This makes extroverts sound like we have the emotional maturity of clingy four-year-olds, but a little of this wouldn’t hurt anyone, I guess.

Like, if you make definite plans (yes, I’ll be over tomorrow night to watch football) then don’t break them. Or, if you have to break them, send a text or call or send up a smoke signal. I don’t know if this is an extrovert thing or a me thing, but I always assume that if we have plans and you don’t show then you’re dead in a ditch somewhere.

Like, answering texts. Again, this is the “dead in a ditch” thing. Also a “I feel like I need you more than you need me and are we still friends” thing. Even an emoji will do.

Like, if you have to be alone, or you feel like your extrovert is being too demanding for god’s sake just tell us. Don’t disappear. Say, “I need a week alone.” Then I won’t text you and wonder if you hate me. I’ll text other people and wonder if they hate me.

(Okay, this has already gone on too long. Wrap it up, Katie.)

Of course, I am 100% stereotyping here. I don’t fit into all parts of extroversion, and if you’re an introvert you may or may not do the things I’m describing. (If you don’t know if you’re introverted or extroverted, or other parts of your personality, try taking this quiz.) But if you are an introvert, take just a little time and think about the little ways you can ease the blow for your extrovert, because we love you and can’t wait to hang out. We’re the dog to your cat. We don’t want to exhaust you, but it hurts to think that you find interacting with us exhausting. A little bit on understanding on both sides might make us all into more communicative, rational human beings.

And all of this was sparked by this lovely buzzfeed post that said in very cool memes what I tried to say in uncool words.