Just because my introverted weekend plans may be different than yours, it doesn’t make them “wrong.”
It’s every Friday, just like clockwork. I’m having a perfectly pleasant chat with someone and then suddenly here it comes: “So do you have any plans for the weekend?”
I know it’s something people ask just to be polite, or when they have run out of other things to say. But the question itself perplexes me. Why is a weekend something that requires planning? Do you need to plan the day before to sleep in for a few hours? It occurred to me once that maybe people with kids actually do need to plan their days. Maybe people were just assuming I had kids because they did.
But alas, further observation proved that theory wrong. People without kids ask it just as regularly.
Whatever the cause, the effect is the same. I am a very private person, and the “weekend” question feels like they are violating that privacy. I feel like they’ve just reached out without warning and jabbed me with a needle, pushing and prying into my introverted shell.
How Do I Protect My Privacy?
Here we go again. What do I do? Should I invent a lie that would satisfy them? I rarely choose this option, because once a lie is born, it becomes a monster, demanding more and more lies to any further questions that may arise. And they do arise. No matter what I say, it’s not going to be enough. They’re going to ask for details.
Watched some movies? Which ones? Did some shopping? Was it at the new mall? Went to Comic-Con? What did you dress up as?
Of course, what I really want to do is tell them that it’s none of their business. But you can’t do that and maintain a good relationship. And advice on how to handle difficult situations like these just rings hollow. It would inevitably start like this: Politely explain to them… STOP! Here’s why…
As an introvert, explaining myself is exactly what I’m trying to avoid. If I had to stop and politely explain myself every time an extrovert casually assaulted my psyche, asking why I’m so quiet, if I’m OK, or what was bothering me, I would probably get so drained and depressed I would never leave the house.
Another piece of well-meaning advice is to simply tell the truth. I have considered it — not the whole truth, but maybe the parts that are easier to digest, like “read a book” or “worked on a painting.” But I feel that this, too, would only provoke more questions and a dig for details. So I reject the truth, and it’s not only because I want to maintain my privacy or because I do anything on the weekends that I should be ashamed of, or because they will call me weird. (I have already been labeled weird simply for not talking at every available opportunity.)
It’s because what I do on the weekend would catapult my status in the extrovert world from weird all the way to freak. It would raise my profile, generate rumors, and make me the center of attention. Everyone would want to know what makes me tick. What they wouldn’t understand is, how is it that I’m so content with what I do? Why am I so accepting of myself and unconcerned about some of the things that keep other people up at night? Why do I like staying home on the weekend?
What I Actually Do on Weekends
Of course, on weekends, I do all the normal things that introverts gravitate toward in our free time. First and foremost, I stay home. It’s an activity that mystifies some others, as I mentioned above. I mean, why would someone stay home when they could go out? It encompasses a variety of activities that are often labeled boring or sad (mostly by extroverts) — reading, watching movies, crafts, writing, painting, and looking up cool information on the internet.
These activities tend to puzzle people. They’re considered things that are normally done as a fallback, when you have no opportunity to go out and socialize. Choosing to do them instead may get you the weird label. But who cares?
But I actually have interests beyond these. It may sound strange, but what I have is a toy marble racing game. I like to experiment with the marbles, putting different ones on different tracks, and seeing how often which ones win. My ultimate goal is to start a log book on these experiments, with each marble’s “record” on each track. There are four tracks and four colors of marbles. (My weekends are going to get very interesting.)
Because randomness — like with the marbles — is a mystery we don’t understand, it has always fascinated me. When I was a child, I used to throw dice and record each one’s throw, to see if any one would consistently score higher than the others. And to this day, I love slot machines and roulette wheels, not so much to try to win money, but just to watch randomness in motion.
By the standards of our extroverted society, this particular curiosity and being inside my head is about as far away from socializing as you can get. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Curiosity Is Stigmatized
But who says their standards have to apply to me? I don’t. In my book, they’re the ones missing out. In retrospect, I consider my life to have been fuller and more rewarding for having a burning curiosity about the world around us vs. a desire for popularity and status.
I have always been curious and creative. As a child, I was fascinated with magic potions. I thus became a “mixer.” I could not believe that no one seemed to have thought of mixing bathroom stuff with kitchen stuff, because maybe there was some combination that would be a real breakthrough.
So I set about mixing aftershave with apple juice, or toothpaste with ketchup and cinnamon. If I went about it methodically, I may finally find the potion that would sparkle and fizz, making me invisible, or bringing my little plastic dolls to life.
It was a quest that made my weekends outright magical.
I never told my friends though. Even then I understood that such pursuits would subject me to ridicule. The other kids were starting to pursue something much more accepted in kid society — popularity.
Even at a young age, our “plans for the weekend” were becoming status statements. The wrong answer could knock you all the way to the bottom, to the realm of being a nerd or different. It was my first inkling of the adult rules to come: Your private life must also be a statement of conformity. Be social, or at least have a normal excuse why you can’t, like “Ugh, we have to clean out the garage.”
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Just Say ‘No’
“So, did you do anything interesting over the weekend?”
This one is as ubiquitous on Mondays as the “plans” question on Fridays. I’ve watched how other people respond. It starts with errands, home repairs, or a kid’s birthday party, and quickly evolves to the small talk that never seems to end.
Sometimes I try to imagine what it would sound like if I responded just as casually about my weekend:
Well, I’ve got this marble racing game, and I started to notice that the green marble usually wins when it goes against the blue one, but will lose to both when you add the red one to the race. And I finished reading this cool book about statistical streaks: whether they actually exist and, if so, what causes them. Then, on Sunday, I watched a great video on YouTube about how to paint storm clouds. And I came up with this mixture of blue, grey, and yellow watercolors that makes them look awesomely wicked. I can’t wait to try it out.
What I actually say is just “No.” And to each incredulous follow up: “What, you mean, just hanging out?” or “Were you sick?” I say:
“No” (with no explanations).
Sure, it’s a bit awkward, but I consider it a compromise between the rude “mind your own business,” and the terminally painful explaining myself.
The Real Winner: Silence Speaks Volumes
When I was younger, I would sometimes try to show certain friends how much more there was to enjoy in life than just socializing. I would share questions that fascinated me, like “If the universe has an end, like a border, what’s beyond it?” Or I would talk about the minnows I had caught in a creek and my experiment of keeping them in an aquarium.
And, this time, they were the ones who had no comment. Silence speaks volumes, like “How can you possibly find that interesting?” And I would be thinking “How can you possibly not?”
But I never let their assumptions kill my joy. There’s nothing freakish about the way that I am. It has many advantages. I don’t have to go out searching for ways to stave off boredom. I don’t need constant company. I’m unconcerned about my place on the social ladder. Simply put, I enjoy time with me (which is actually a very healthy quality).
My weekends can be awesome. My life can be filled with wonder, discovery, and fulfillment — all without leaving my house or making any plans. If, like me, you’re an introvert who creates your own fun and finds your joy at home, then consider it a blessing. Do not let the “plans” questions make you doubt yourself, no matter how you choose to answer them.