My Ode to Naia

I believe my greatest strength is discipline which means, in turn, that my greatest weakness is obsessiveness.

This relates to my theory that our greatest strengths are also our greatest weaknesses, which will be explained more in an upcoming essay. Until then, you’ll just have to trust me.

Even though I appear to be frolicking around Europe, my profession is still College Student. I am attending one of the highest-ranked universities for economics in Europe, and I intend to do well. No matter how many times my parents tell me it’s okay to relax a bit, my obsessiveness takes over. This means I hate going out Saturday night because it would mean sleeping in late Sunday. Sleeping in late doesn’t get me enough time to finish my homework, get sleep for my 9am Monday morning class, and take my time needed to lay in the grass staring at the sky to recharge. Not getting these three things done creates mania in The Animal.

Being an introvert, this is one of the only ways I can recharge. It’s a bit of a roadblock I’ve run into since my roommates are all extroverts and get their recharge time from being out in the club, whereas clubbing for me warrants alone time. They are all very outgoing, have an unimaginable social battery, and seem to make friends everywhere they go. I feel bad sometimes because I often sneak out early Sunday morning before they wake up to get some alone time.

A lot of times I feel introverted people come off as unfriendly, shy, or reserved to people who don’t understand. I don’t think any of these adjectives would describe me. It’s more as though I have a really hard time making inconsequential conversations. Not only is it unenjoyable, but my mind also just blanks on the next correct question in the, “Where are you from? What do you study? Etc.” script. I have a hard time making conversation when we’re not discussing something I find important or that I’m passionate about. Small talk makes me feel like there are spiders crawling up my spine and my skin is slowly melting off… morbid, sorry. It occasionally makes me feel insecure because my roommates meet lots of new people when we go out. When someone approaches me, we hardly get past the “Where are you from?” question before I tune out.

My astrology friends blame this behavior on my moon in Aries, ‘inspirational’ account on Tik Tok blames it on “being smarter than the rest”, but my friend Naia believes I am simply independent and secure with myself. She used to laugh while telling me the story of thinking I hated her when we first met, but she soon realized I was very friendly when the small talk was off the table.

It’s just a fluke thing that Naia and I are in Madrid at the same time. We rarely talk during college, but always meet up when we’re back in Hometown. Although we ran in the same friend group and played sports together in high school we weren’t ever extremely close outside of season. It gave me a sense of comfort, though, knowing that she would be in this foreign country with me, so when I got a text from Naia the other night there was nothing I wanted more than to meet up with her.

It was Saturday night, and I had agreed to go out with my roommates “just for a bit”, but it was 1am before we even left the apartment… I could feel The Animal tossing and turning. I was in a bad mood, I didn’t want to be around people talking, and I didn’t want to drink alcohol. Despite feeling worried my roommates might feel odd about me flaking, I pushed it out of my mind and practically ran the 15 minutes to the club Naia was at. When I told her I was on my way, her excitement only grew.

When I arrived at the club, Naia left the dance floor to meet me at the door. She screamed at the top of her lungs, started jumping up and down, and then hugged me while continuing to jump. Obviously, she was drunk (at 4’10” she’s the definition of a lightweight) but I always like to think that people are showing more of their true colors when they are drunk because their brain is less restricted. So when Naia yelled, “I’m so glad you’re here, I love you!” and took my head in her hands with wide eyes saying, “Your new bangs look so good, I’m obsessed” I knew she really meant it. That split-second interaction knocked The Animal right onto its back.

My bad mood washed away as she grabbed my hand and pulled me onto the dance floor. She bought my drink because she was, “just so excited I came”, and kept asking me, “you’re having fun, right?”

Eventually, Naia sobered up a bit and asked me, concerned, where my friends were. I told her, “I left them at a bar and came alone to meet you.” Although I said it in such a way to make her feel special, she turned it back on me.

“It’s so cool that you can do stuff like this on your own. I’d never have the guts to leave my roommates and walk to another club. I’d make one of them come with me, I’ve always admired you for that.”

What a deep and touching thing to say as Gasolina by Daddy Yankee plays in the background. But that’s something I’ve always admired about Naia, her ability to make everyone feel welcome and appreciated.

Getting dressed that night I had been dreading the late night and lack of sleep I was seeing in front of me. It was in my plans to pull an Irish exit and head home almost as soon as we got out. Instead, I ended up with a more solidified friendship, a night that made me smile in the shower, and a video of Naia shouting “I love Adam Levine!” as Someone Like You by Adele plays over the speakers.

Yours truly,



One response to “My Ode to Naia”

  1. […] amount of words: I didn’t make any friends at my university. It was getting increasingly hard and the only thing that kept me off the ledge was Naia. Naia and I were friends in high school but hadn’t talked much since. I realized she was in […]


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