Updated: May 18
Human connection and interaction are a vital part of my day. I see myself as an extroverted introvert. Surrounding myself with people and conversing with an abundance of characters from a mishmash of backgrounds yet longing for the loner life.
Tactile with those I choose to spend time with and over the years, drawn to the complexity of humans; I've a penchant for getting into the nitty-gritty of a person's persona and finding out what makes them tick. Ruthlessly observant, I ask endless questions with the ability to hold conversations with most people I come into contact with. I enjoy finding a dingy local pub where I can blend into the crowds, listening to the layers of voices whirring around me as I sip at a (no doubt double) spiced rum. A café with a large window is appealing to me, especially if there's a seat available to nab so I can analyse and judge those who walk by, unaware I'm examining their every silent interaction. Changing rooms fascinate me; as I try on outfits I can't afford, I listen in to conversations between groups of girlfriends and laugh at their trivial woes of the boy who won't reply to their text messages. Or countless 'does this top make my waist look non-existent?' comments that both frustrate and sadden me, yet momentarily distract me from quietly scrutinising my own body.
Festivals entice me and live music excites me. Groups of people in a place to enjoy the same thing I'm there to enjoy. The theatre and cinema are both places I love to frequent but am aware this is mainly because I know, as soon as the lights go down, my introvert side can appear as I disappear into the darkness.
“I’m drawn to people that I don’t really understand. I think I’m just fascinated by people. I love complex characters - strong females who are vulnerable but have a life and soul.”
Recently, I have found a tenuous affinity with English actress, Ruth Wilson. I feel her attraction to playing complex characters and being drawn to those whom she doesn't really understand, is something I have felt within me for as long as I can remember. This may or may not be because I feel I'm one of those complex characters she longs to play, but also because the people I've been drawn to in life, whether romantically or as friends and acquaintances, have been those of an intricate nature.
I said at the start how I perceive myself to be an extroverted introvert; I feel my need to be surrounded by people, yet how I long for the quiet space of just my thoughts, is the main reason behind this statement. To me, human connection is as valuable as a fine piece of jewellery. The way a person's mind works and how their values and beliefs can differ or mirror my own is fascinating. Finding people who you connect with is pivotal in growth yet spending time with those who you don't connect with can broaden your thinking, challenge your mind and allow you to see things with a different, more holistic perspective. All of which I believe can give you the ability to expand your mind and be a little more tolerant to the human race.
“People know me as my characters. They don’t know me.”
In context of the interview this statement is from, Ruth is talking about keeping her private life, private. Privacy is something I strongly feel that no matter how famous you might be, you are explicitly entitled to. Being in the so-called limelight doesn't mean your life, in its entirety, belongs to the world. You should be able to choose what you share and if you'd rather keep something private, then you have every right to do so.
However, I also feel this statement is true to a lot of people who are not actors - it is so easy to shift between characters that you don't always see the real person in front of you but instead, a myriad of roles dependent on the situation. I know I've been there before where, in one moment I am a calm and confident woman with a purposeful stride, yet the next a meek and vulnerable girl who can barely make eye contact. Humans have the ability to shape-shift into versions of themselves which fit their mood, and you don't have to be an actor to do this. It fascinates me and the more complex the character, the more I want to untangle them and their many facades.
I can see why Ruth is drawn to these roles; women who are damaged but strong, beautiful yet complicated, enigmatic but dangerous. It must be simultaneously fascinating and exhausting, yet she portrays them so flawlessly considering their many sides. Admittedly it also leaves me intrigued as to how, given the chance, Ruth might choose to unfurl the likes of me if she were to clamber into my complex psyche and start unravelling my character...
Moving Swiftly On...
Today I have really felt a shift in how I have been tolerating lockdown. It's been 6-weeks since I last physically interacted with a group of people and although there have been times where I've flourished in isolation, there have been many where I've crumbled.
I'm pining for the hustle and bustle of Truro and the bumping of arms as I ramble with the group along the coast. I’m longing to go for a drive in the van and pop into a shop without fear of crossing the line. It’s been weeks since I embraced a family member or friend. The new norm has become jumping away in fear when seeing another person heading in my direction - that is if my newly found friend 'anxiety' dare let me go outside for an afternoon walk.
The loner in me revels in this new way of living - the demand of seeing people; going places; turning up on time to an appointment; shopping; crowds, has all disappeared without me needing to make excuses or feeling guilty for needing some me time. Yet suddenly, human connection is something I crave and miss deeply. The everyday hum of life which lacks in each of the endless days in solitude that go by during lockdown.
I see myself as a positive person, trying to look on the brighter side if I can. But sometimes it’s just too tiresome and overwhelming to put on a smile and pretend you’re okay. This extroverted introvert is missing her people, the normality that once was but, I fear, won't be when all this finally comes to an end. It's times like this where human connection, although currently digital, is vital.
"I simply want to take a break and catch my breath. But I also think that, sometimes, the bravest thing you can do is to deliberately keep some time free and see what the world throws at you"
Below is a reading of one of my favourite William Wordsworth poems which, ironically, is read by none other than my new unknowing acquaintance. With her velvety voice which lowers to an enticing timbre, Ruth manages to draw you in with each word and for just a moment, everything around you disappears. I need entire books read to me by this voice. I encourage you all to listen and take just a couple of moments to escape...