When I was a very small child at junior school, I would often wrap my scarf around my entire head, and wander around the playground. Yes, clearly this was a little bizarre. I remember feeling completely safe, as if I was invisible, tucked up in my own little world.
I had the same feeling on the rare occasions we would have thick, pea soup fog in London. I had a long walk to the bus stop, and I remember very clearly walking through the fog, unable to see more than two feet in front of me, loving the isolation and peace, the feeling of being invisible.
This summer, I have discovered that a very large hat, with a downturned brim, gives me much the same feeling. Also, it is far more socially acceptable than wandering around with a scarf over my face, peering out through the tiny holes in between stitches in the wool.
For an introvert like myself, the discovery of a big hat may be life-changing. If I could have a superpower, it would undoubtedly be invisibility. Not for eavesdropping on people’s conversations – if I ever have the misfortune of overhearing someone talking about me, I scarper as quickly as I can, firmly of the belief that you are unlilkely to hear anything you will want to hear when you are eavesdropping – but for the feeling of privacy it allows.
I walked the beach yesterday with a giant hat on, the brim pulled low, so I could see everyone’s feet as they approached, but nothing more. And they could see a woman, with a giant hat on, so no-one (presumably) knew it was me.
There are days when I am quite sure I am an extroverted introvert. The truth is, I love people, and I am very happy in a crowd of people, as long as it is a crowd of people I have chosen for myself. I do not particularly like small talk, but I have a horror of running out of conversation, and so, should I find myself in an awkward conversation with a stranger, I have learned to fill silences with lots and lots of questions, and generally people are happy to open up and tell you about themselves.
There are days when I will gladly go to parties and chat, but there are other days when I would rather stick pens in my eyes than walk into a room filled with people I do not know. There are days when I do not want to see anyone, and I do not want anyone to see me, and although I do sometimes spend these days hiding at home, sometimes I need to be out in the world, even though I wish I wasn’t.
A very big hat is clearly the perfect solution to the days when the introversion gets the better of me, and I promise not to wrap a scarf around as well, unless snow is on the ground!