First: Be an eight year old girl who says, indignantly, when you guys pass within a foot and a half of each other, “She didn’t even say excuse me.” The introvert will brush it off, eighty seven-percent sure she at least mouthed ‘Pardon me.’ The introvert is too busy thinking about how to write about the apocalypse to give it too much thought.
Next: Bring your large, loud mother into the gas station to confront the introvert, who is in line to buy a Diet Sunkist, having decided that it’s economical and the day is hot.
Third: When the introvert tries to say something close to an apology, your large, loud mother with three gold teeth that the introvert can see clearly as she speaks, says that she must have a guilty conscience because she was just talking to her daughter (they have nothing to buy but they’re standing in line, talking about the introvert, pointing to her; the introvert’s face begins to heat). The large, loud mother says that some people have no manners.
Fourth: The introvert knows she should shut up but she keeps trying to make the situation better. The mother and daughter storm out with the self-righteous bearings of a superhero and sidekick.
Fifth: The introvert still has to buy the drink and try to smile and act like a human while everyone who has ever been born is staring at her, including the people who are there with their luggage waiting for the bus.
Okay, so. Not my proudest moment. I have to change the sign hanging on my bedroom door to ‘0 Days Since My Last Major Social Humiliation.’ I measure my self-worth based on how long it’s been since I’ve cried in public, which I do not do because I’m sad but because I’m frustrated or embarrassed and my eyeballs like to vent their frustrations/embarrassments in the form of salty water no matter where I am and how much it will compound my discomfort.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. I can see this as a point of pride. Because I am the way I am, I have a greater consciousness of what people around me are going through. Because I am the way I am, I have more patience with the people around me. It makes me a better writer. It makes me a better human. So instead of feeling ashamed of myself, from now on I’m going to see moments like this as what they are: reminders that humiliation isn’t always bad, sometimes it actually does build character.