Fall & Winter, My Most Complicated Time of the Year — Erica L. Williams

For many, the arrival of fall season, sweater weather, generates an onslaught of frenzy. Pumpkin spice everything, HBCU tailgating, football games, matching holiday pajamas, and Spotify Wrapped lists are anticipated with the same exuberance as waiting for the winter candle sale at Bath & Body Works. At the crack of fall, sleeveless shirts and spaghetti-strapped sundresses, shorts, and crop pants are replaced with long sleeve pullovers, wool jackets, and belted cardigans. Sandals and flip flops are swapped out for knee-high boots, fuzzy socks, and Uggs. Summer barbeques fade into a distant memory, replaced with swanky holiday shindigs.

I am a self-professed introvert, although I believe the use of the terms introvert and extrovert can be slightly polarizing. It intimates that you can only be one or the other when I know people who exhibit both traits, albeit one feature usually dominants. Although enough champagne or Merlot can turn me into an extrovert quickly, my default personality leans reticent.

A therapist once told me that extroverts get energy from interacting with other people. On the other hand, introverts can be energized, however, it’s not uncommon for that sense to transform into overstimulation, and you can go from feeling vitalized to needing vitamins as a pick me up in a matter of minutes. Her reasons were supported by analytical research, tests, and statistical evidence. However, I am retelling them with the basic concepts in which I comprehended them.

Simply put, after a few hours of socializing, I’m done, and depending on the degree of constant talking necessitated, I may have the desire to curl up in a corner in a fetal position and need a day or two, or five, to replenish.

That’s why my relationship with the fall season that starts late September and morphs into winter beginning December 21 is complicated. During these seasons, social activities multiply like rabbits. Every professional, social, faith, and community affiliations have holiday galas, luncheons, socials, or good ole’ Louisiana parties complete with a smorgasbord of seafood, drinks more potent than moonshine, and two-step music. Even if I enjoy these events to the fullest, or only attend a few, by the end of the year, my tank has plummeted to empty, and I’m coasting into the new year on fumes seeking out the nearest station to fill up.

For years I struggled with socializing and social activities in general, hiding behind the labels of shyness, aloofness, or even standoffishness. Only when I centered myself, sought help, and began to work through why I dreaded extensive social engagements did a breakthrough occur. Learning how to manage anxiety played a part, however understanding the genetic ways in which introverts and extroverts are wired differently brought clarity. Instead of hoarding guilt for seeking solitude after these encounters, I now cherish those days of self-care rituals. Reading, burning incense, and journaling are a few of my practices.

Of course, this year is different. Due to the pandemic, innocent holiday parties and family gatherings are now considered breeding grounds for mass destruction. I am looking forward to the day when get-togethers are relatively safe again.

In the meantime, here are a few things you can find me doing while holed up this winter:

  • Lying dormant under a weighted blanket
  • Obsessing over cute kids stuffed in pumpkin outfits long after Halloween
  • Drinking frothy chocolate drinks with low-fat almond milk
  • Eating Gumbo
  • Reading Chani Nicholas’s horoscopes and deciphering the difference between a lunar eclipse and a great conjunction.
  • Binge-watching Sugar Rush Christmas
  • Listening to Sia’s Chandelier on repeat
  • Watching This Christmas and Jingle Jangle for the thousandth time
  • Activating and deactivating my Bumble and Hinge accounts, (for the thousandth time).

Then come spring, I will emerge from my cocoon, and I will fly.

MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Work has appeared in Necessary Fiction, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Blood Orange Review, & elsewhere.

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