Wednesday, July 30, 2008

So Called Introverts

It's nearly impossible to identify for sure who is and who isn't an introvert. Even an extreme introvert is hard to spot at times. Take myself as an example. Every social activity that I partake in makes it more difficult for people to peg me. Even venturing out into the world helps create a blurry image of the type of person I am. My own claims to be one of the more extreme introverts you'll ever meet mean nothing. And I can't blame anyone for not believing me. After all, I don't believe others who make similar claims!

I hear it all of the time. A friend once told me that he considers himself to be introverted. If my facial expression didn't convey my disbelief, I think I said something like, "You?" He's one of the most outgoing and social guys that I've befriended. He's nearly always talking and joking with someone, and often he's either the life of a party or its clown.

As another example, I've heard many celebrities make the same claim, actors who are apparently creating a ruckus in public every day and who seem to crave attention from news and media -- not for work or to garner publicity for a film, as far as I can tell. Although I don't know them personally and could never say for certain, their claims seem to defy believability.

I realize a wide spectrum may exist for introversion, but sometimes I'm forced to wonder if anyone truly understands what it means. Other times, I begin to think that claiming to be an introvert has become fashionable, that everyone wants to "join the club". I should probably be reluctant to call myself one.

Though it sounds very elitist, perhaps I should come up with some guidelines on spotting real introverts. Or the extreme ones, at least.



I can take some ragging. Anyone with even a slight sense of humor should be able to. And, if one particular subject has been the impetus of the ragging for your entire life, you should be used to it by now. So it is with my quietness. But I still like to document it, if only to illustrate how regular it is.

I'm on my way out of the office at the end of the day, nodding and saying a few goodbyes, when one of my teammates says, "Good chatting with you today," the joke being that I'd said not one word to him. These have become common parting words from him during the last several weeks. This from a guy with whom I've worked closely for the last seven years, with whom I've enjoyed many lunches and activities unrelated to work, whose family I know and whose home I've been to.

You'd think some jokes would get old. But maybe the humor is in how old they are.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Relief In Solitude

Freedom, in my eyes, involves settling into the void, a place where no one can detect me, being able to disappear and feel that I don't exist to others. Freedom involves breaking free of the chains and shackles that emanate from the awareness of others; it involves no longer feeling self-conscious. There is such relief in being alone.


Why Not Speaking Is Better

The other day at the office, a coworker walked by my cubicle while showing a potential employee around. As she made her rounds, she introduced everyone to the candidate. When she got to me, she told the said candidate my name and then she said about me: "He's shy."

Why do people do that? Why try pointing out a person's most prominent character trait?

First of all, I'm not shy -- I'm an introvert. I felt like replying rudely, "I'm not shy. I just don't like you."

Secondly, it doesn't take much creativity or intelligence to frequently make note of a readily observable feature. It's like remarking that the sky is blue. Every single day. And if I were to take up the same habit, it would be the equivalent of introducing people thus: "Hi, this is Sally. She's fat." Or, "I'd like you to meet Bob. He never shuts up."

For extreme introverts like myself, I'm sure this is a common occurrence. In fact, this happened last week as well. Another coworker was showing someone around the office and, when she got to me, said, "He doesn't talk, so you'll never hear from him."

What the hell?

Sure, people think they're funny, but really they're just being insensitive and dull. It would be better if they said nothing at all. At least their silence would be a kindness to us all.