No, not that closet. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that closet.)

What I’m talking about is the closet of my own mind. Or spirit. Or something. See, I’m an introvert who has always needed a certain amount of alone time in order to stay sane. Far from the madding crowd and all that. I like reading, and thinking about what I’ve read, and consuming media, and thinking about what I’ve consumed, and above all else, freedom from the horrors of small talk. I like talking to people, I just abhor chit chat. Elevators have always been an especially torturous circle of Hell for me. I like having real conversations: sometimes silly, sometimes serious, but real.

I wouldn’t say I’m a wallflower, exactly, because I also like to dance, even if I have to dance by myself—like nobody’s watching. But at any party not featuring music, and not featuring a number of my friends for real conversation, I am likely to be the one sitting next to the ficus benjamina in the corner.

I can fake extroversion when necessary—which explains much of my working life—but if forced to an excess of it I tend to collapse like a soggy noodle at the end of the day. I’m never so glad to shut the door and commune with my solitude as on those days when forced to overplay the extroversion card.

I used to think there was something wrong with me and the way I am. I was certainly told this enough times by extroverts. One time I and a close friend of mine, L., who is also an introvert, went to a “psychic” for a reading. She read us separately, L. first, and when she got to me she said, “You’re another closet person, just like your friend! You both need to get out of yourselves and become part of the world!” L. and I completely took this to heart, berated ourselves for being such mutants. But you know what? We were part of the world, not just the same world this so-called psychic inhabited. We went out and did things, saw things, had fun, but sometimes we just needed to go back to our rooms and think over all that stuff and regenerate our energy. We weren’t extroverts. So fucking what?

Of course, it took me a long time to get that perspective. Perspective is a funny old thing that can change many times over the course of a life. L. and I were talking about this just today, how in high school we spent a lot of time in our rooms listening to music or reading, doing our art, thinking about music and reading and art, peering deep into the strange heart of existence, occasionally going out and doing stuff and having a good time, then circling back to our solitude. And I, for one, was not unhappy with that except when teased about it by the extroverts. All those pom-pom girls and rah-rah boys.

In our twenties, L. and I thought we needed to change the way we were, to get out there and live life like that psychic told us to do, like the pom-rah crowd said we should. I can’t say it ever made me happy trying to force myself to be something I wasn’t, always thinking I was wrong for being who I truly am. I’m glad my perspective has changed again.

There is nothing wrong with the closet I inhabit. After all, good friends and good conversation are just a text away. My closet is messy, but other than that it’s a place where I can read and think and do art and listen to music and podcasts and try, now and again, to have a real and meaningful conversation with the numinous.