Friday, October 24, 2014

It's OK to be an introvert as long as you keep it to yourself

I have finally come across a type of person with whom I could be comfortable. The problem is we will never meet.

Years ago one day I was waiting around for some people to make up their minds about whether we were going to do something or not. Tired of waiting, I decided right there if I wanted to do something I would do it, whether alone or not, just get up and go while the rest of them discuss the possibilities. Since that time most of my adventures except for sailing have been alone and I would have done that alone too, if I had ever owned a boat that I could single-hand on the big ocean.

I also found myself uncomfortable in crowds or groups, often at parties wandering among conversational groups listening quietly to what was mostly small talk but seldom joining the discussion. After an hour or so of that at many parties I would excuse myself and leave rather than endure that sense of being alone and obvious in a crowd.

I have avoided confrontation as much as possible, not even answering the phone rather than risk a confrontation of one form or another. It reached the point where  the phone ringing created a minor anxiety attack, startling me with its rude intrusion.

As a child I recall almost every question to my parents about wanting some toy or wanting to do something ended very quickly with a "no." As a result to this day I loathe asking people for anything and avoid it as much as I can. A side effect of those parental "nos" was that I made a conscious effort to never tell my children no unless there was a good reason and if so explain it to them. No quick reaction arbitrary negative responses.

For the most part if I can't do it myself, it doesn't get done or else I learn how to do it on my own. I built three houses with a minimum of outside help, often working with a book in one hand and a hammer in the other. As I progressed through a project, I would plan out  tasks working out how I could accomplish them by myself. This included some very creative heavy lifting that I did rather than ask for help if I could avoid it. People even came by to help once in a while and offer a hand but I had no idea what to tell them because I was all prepared to do it alone. 
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"I want that t shirt that says 'introverts unite! we're here, we're uncomfortable, and we want to go home.'" – Allie  Billings
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As life moved along, and I did more things on my own, and outside the norm for most people like sailing the big ocean, living in the Alaska Bush, going to a Lady Gaga concert at the age of 70, my accumulation of experiences further isolated me from the conversation. I just could not relate to people who lived more normal lives, never getting very close to the edge and doing for a few hours on the weekends what I did all the time. My lifestyle as well was alien to them. Sooner or later while I was describing life in the Bush someone was sure to ask a question about an outhouse. Once that came up the questioner usually dropped out of the conversation while I had to describe a toilet rather than the joys of the life. I quit talking about it.

Writing further isolated me. While it gave me a method of expression that avoided conversation, it is not a team sport; it is done alone in closed rooms and any interruption at all is a major intrusion. Yet when somebody did interrupt I could not tell them to buzz off, just endured the intrusion in silence until the person gave up and left. That may have at least contributed to problems that led to two divorces.

Alaska lends itself well to this way of life. Independence is a virtue around here and the tales are full of loners who populate the outer country quite comfortably. These days I live alone and function alone, going days and days without talking to another person, content with chores, the television, some limited writing and enjoying the solitude. My only regular socialization is Internet chat with a woman I have come to accept as an unindicted co-conspirator, trading YouTube videos on line and chatting as we listen to music we recommend to each other.

For years, I thought there was something wrong with me, wondering what personality malfunction caused this abnormal behavior. Then a few months ago, I ran across another person who is pretty much the same way and through her had a minor epiphany. She posted something about being an introvert, not as an apology for her personality, nor even anything she felt needed changing. In fact she opened my eyes to what an introvert is all about. Among items she posted about it were a couple of lists that pointed out 50 traits of an introvert. As I looked over those lists I realized 49 of those traits applied to me. Whoa. There was my life explained to me in almost clinical detail and I happily embraced the idea, not as an excuse for abnormal behavior but as an explanation that made me more comfortable in my own skin.

Adding to that comfort has been learning there are others of us who enjoy the same attribute. I've even heard rumblings of a meeting of introverts. The unfortunate truth about that though, is we know, we know no one would show up, but, then, to an introvert, that's not unfortunate.

ADDENDUM: A friend, who incidentally is enjoying an unencumbered weekend, pointed out that there is no normal. Looking back, it looks like I used "normal" and "abnormal" rather freely here. I usually cringe when I write the word "normal" for that very reason but I might have been in a hurry this time.  Alternates?  Maybe "mainstream," "generally accepted." I am sure there are others. In two cases I used abnormal facetiously as in "abnormal behavior." That was supposed to be sarcastic but on looking at it again, it doesn't read that well. The fact is that everyone's normal is different as is everyone's abnormal meaning as my friend said, there are no such things, except perhaps in the sense that being an introvert is very normal for a whole bunch of us.

Revenge of the introverts

30 problems only introverts will understand

She's so fierce blog – Being an introvert; why I struggle with my personality

Jung's theory of personalities



1 comment:

  1. This is part of the reason I love Alaska so much! It really does lend itself to introversion and solo adventure. I see a lot of hikers, alone, mapping out their own way. Lots of runners out doing their own thing; bikers, skiers, etc. I love it!

    ReplyDelete

Interesting quotations

My dear Mr. Frost: two roads never diverge in a yellow wood. Three roads meet there. — @Shakespeare on Twitter

"The mark of a great shiphandler is never getting into situations that require great shiphandling," Adm. Ernest King, USN

Me: Does the restaurant have cute waitresses?

My friend Gail: All waitresses are cute when you're hungry.

I'm not a writer, but sometimes I push around words to see what happens. – Scott Berry

“The rivers of Alaska are strewn with the bones of men who made but one mistake” - Fred McGarry, a Nushagak Trapper

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

We are all immortal until the one day we are not. – me again

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

If an insurance company won’t pay for damages caused by an “act of God,” shouldn’t it then have to prove the existence of God? – I said that

I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio announcer

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

"Now that you're in the finals you have to run the race that's going to get you on the podium."

"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

"I brought out the thermostat to show you how cold it is here." Points to a thermometer reading zero in Minneapolis.

"It's tough to win on the road when you turn the ball over." Oh, really? Like you can do all right if you turn the ball over playing at home?

Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

"Atlanta is capable of doing what they're doing."

"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

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