My body hums with energy when I sit in Starbucks, and it has nothing to do with the caffeinated beverages. The blending and foaming and clattering and clinking is enough stimulation to keep me in that perfect space between focus and distraction: inspiration.
Starbucks is the introvert’s paradise.
On the Myerr-Briggs test, my results were Introversion, Intuition, Feeling, and Judgment, INFJ. Rather than reading the description provided by the test makers, I like to spin these words through the web of my own etymology. It makes sense that I am an intuitive, feeling, judging introvert. I am particularly sensitive and empathetic to the world around me.
In Starbucks, I can interact with people without conversing with them at all. Sometimes dialogue is like static; it obscures a person’s true essence, making it hard for me to tune into their energy. Sometimes I can’t hear people that talk a lot. I hate when people reduce themselves to a voice.
“It was all sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
What introverts know is that people can communicate just by feeling. While I’m trying to feel your energy, you’re ruining the moment with silly and completely unnecessary dialogue.
In Starbucks, I can feel people out. Some might call it people watching, but I don’t think that fully explains my love for silently observing others. The essence of a person speaks more truth than their own mouths can. Sometimes our mouths speak of our pain and our prejudice. What introverts know is that a person’s aura is where their purest authenticity resides.
People watching, or as I call it, people observing, in places like Starbucks is a very non-intrusive experience. Most of the time, I am on my computer, typing prose such as this. Unlike the silence and formality of the library, which leaves me the daunting responsibility of filling its soundless space, public spaces like Starbucks allow me to fade into the background -- unnoticed.
The indistinct chatter, the professionals having quick meetings, the college students studying, the elderly reading magazines and newspapers: it is so mundane, but so precious because it reminds me that the world is happening, and will continue to happen with or without my direct participation in it.
I’m as close to being a fly on the wall as I can possibly be.
I prefer to sit in a corner where I have both a full view of the space and of the outside. Starbucks never fails to have amazing windows. If the people inside do not hold my attention, there is always the buzz of the street to distract me.
The street is occupied by people who want something. College students who want a cheap and good meal. Middle-aged women who want the dog to use the bathroom. Musicians who want to make some extra change. Homeless people who want everyone’s dollar. The glass between the street and me is a relief, a momentary break from wanting to be someone or have something or go somewhere.
In Starbucks, I am at ease. I can feel with no attachment. I am not compelled to be invested in anything around me, yet everything I see is fascinating.
If I choose to pay attention, I feel everything, all the time. I won’t say that I have a supernatural gift, or that I’m psychic, or anything like that. What I do know is that I tend to be attentive. I can hear everything, I can feel the vibes of a place. I get absorbed in feeling out my surroundings.
Starbucks is one of few places where I choose to tune in completely. Other times, in other places, I withdraw into my mind, especially if I’m involved in a series of social situations. Sensing people’s intentions, motivations, pain, desires, it can be a lot of pressure, especially because I am the type of person who likes to make sure that everyone is comfortable.
When I am obliged to be social, I become fluid, adjusting to the communication style of the person I am interacting with. This can be taxing because there are very few people who I don’t feel the need to cater to. Those people, the ones for whom I make no adjustments, are precious to me. They’re my home.
For the most part, however, I end my days exhausted. From the people cursing at someone over the phone to the angry people on the street to the frustrated cashier, to the annoyed waitress, and everyone in between, interacting with the average person, and thereby feeling them, can be too much for me.
When I am silent, I can feel the world’s pulse. It’s fast, it’s electric, and it’s overwhelming. The world’s pulse is the symphony of everything that is, from the honking of horns to the whirring of distant trains to the tv in the apartment upstairs. It’s all of the people, living.
And I can feel it.