Monday, December 20, 2010

Making It Up ...

There was a company holiday party recently. The coworker that I unintentionally slighted the other day spotted me there.

He said, "Hey! Long time, no see! And that's as it should be."

I said "hey" back, and then, "Despite what I said before, it's always good to see you."

"In that case," he said, "Cheers."

"Cheers," I said, and we clinked beer mugs.

Hopefully that was enough to undo the effects of telling the truth in such a bad way. Drinks and clinking glasses sometimes have a surprising force; they can undo a lot of things.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

(In)Appropriate: Alternatives To Talking

There are so many great things to do with the human mouth. Why waste it on talking?

Barney Stinson
How I Met Your Mother


Saturday, December 11, 2010

On Words That Make More Sense In My Head

Occasionally I notice myself being rude to others without intending it. I had one such encounter the other day, for example, while pouring myself a coffee at work.

A coworker in the kitchen with me, a guy who sits on the opposite side of the office, said, "Hey, long time, no see!"

"That's as it should be," I replied.

And I didn't realize how rude my remark seemed until a moment later, when he said, "How dare you!"

I smiled at him and chuckled. I hoped he hadn't interpreted my remark to mean that I wish for him to stay away, or that I dislike him. At the time, all I meant was that I enjoy not being seen, that it's good not to be noticed for long periods of time. I meant what I said, but I was trying to say it in a joking way. My methods failed. They often do.

It's my own fault, I guess, if I'm misunderstood. Even though I try to say what I mean, I do so very poorly. I sometimes have no tact.

Maybe it's for the best that my coworker doesn't see me often.



Friday, December 10, 2010

Where Introverts Reside

I overheard a conversation at work today. My boss was walking to a conference room with another colleague.

My boss said, "You won't have to talk for long, don't worry. I told them you're a man of few words."

And then I wondered, is my colleague an introvert? It's hard to guess, sometimes. Introversion seems like a secret world; I'm always on the lookout for clues to who else resides there.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Improvement On Silence

Before you speak, ask yourself, is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve on the silence?

Indian Guru, Sai Baba


Friday, October 22, 2010

Count My Words

This is a rehash of an entry that I wrote elsewhere and long ago. I figured that my once per month quota for entries needed to be met, so here I am making an appearance. This old entry was an example of how quiet I can be. I wrote about a conversation between me and my boss, as follows:
My boss told me, "We were holding bets yesterday on how many words you say in a day."

"Who's we?" I asked.

"All of us," he said.

"And who won?" I asked.

"No one won. We were just speculating," he said.

"Well, what number was guessed?" I asked.

"Oh, ten or less," he said.

As an average, that was actually a very good guess. But ideally, I think the count should probably be lower.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Random Tidbit Concerning Product Choice

When I purchased my cell phone last year, I must admit that one of the things I was influenced by was the manufacturer's slogan. The phone that I ended up choosing was an HTC Eris, whose slogan is "quietly brilliant." I love it. I don't know what they intended by that message, but I like to think that it suits me well.

It's funny how much of a role personality can play in product choice. I wonder how many other introverts were swayed by such slogans.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Not A Team Player

At a recent office outing (a baseball game), two colleagues who I sat next to discussed the topic of "team players." Somehow, I had the impression that they wanted me to overhear.

In a nutshell, what they said was that people who isolate themselves -- or co-workers who do, at least -- are not team players.

At that point, I jumped in and said, "Hey, that's me you're talking about!" I wanted to say more, but they simply acknowledged that I was correct and then continued their discussion without me.

It seems that the prevailing opinion is this: if others aren't involved in your daily life -- if you don't socialize with them or get to know what's going on in their work lives -- then you're not a team player. But I think there are many ways to contribute to a team, and they don't necessarily involve being part of a corporate "family." Unfortunately, I think most people are uncomfortable not knowing what's going on with those that they share quarters with every day.

But why? Why is it that being part of a team means making everyone else comfortable while -- if you're an introvert -- making yourself uncomfortable? Why do others need you to become part of their group? As I'm sitting there enduring a company outing, a forced social event, an event designed to make everyone else comfortable in the workplace, I can't help wondering why no one ever designs events to make someone like me feel more comfortable. I want to tell my colleagues that I'd feel more like part of the team if they'd quit saying that, just by being myself, I'm not.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

On Hermits: Random Amusement

I'm gonna buy a bunch of hermit crabs and make 'em live together. People will say, "Are those hermit crabs?" I'll say, "Not anymore. They're mingling crabs."

by Demetri Martin


Friday, July 16, 2010

On Not Regretting Isolation

I was watching an old Nova show about Einstein this evening -- a recent Netflix shipment -- and the actor portraying him spoke a butchered version of something actually written by Einstein. I looked it up later and I'm copying it here. I like the part about not regretting the isolation that is a consequence of withdrawing into oneself. There's an upside to being an introvert; in fact, there are many.

The quote:

My passionate interest in social justice and social responsibility has always stood in curious contrast to a marked lack of desire for direct association with men and women. I am a horse for single harness, not cut out for tandem or teamwork. I have never belonged wholeheartedly to any country or state, to my circle of friends, or even to my own family. These ties have always been accompanied by a vague aloofness, and the wish to withdraw into myself increases with the years.

Such isolation is sometimes bitter, but I do not regret being cut off from the understanding and sympathy of other men. I lose something by it, to be sure, but I am compensated for it in being rendered independent of the customs, opinions, and prejudices of others, and am not tempted to rest my peace of mind upon such shifting foundations.

written by Einstein, 1930


Monday, July 12, 2010

Everyone Else Knows What's Best

Earlier, I was having a conversation that reminded me of some things that I've dealt with as an introvert (though these things are applicable to other areas of my life, as well). We were talking about work, about how her boss wanted to "promote" her. Though promotion was against her wishes, the boss was sure that it was the best route for her "growth" within the company. She disagreed; she wanted to grow, but not in that direction. The boss always knows what's best, though.

Why is it that everyone else always knows what's best for us?

It just reminds me so vividly of my younger days, and of how often I was preached to -- by friends and family and even strangers -- about growing out of my quietness. It was prescribed as the best thing for me, despite my arguments. I was perfectly happy staying just as I was, except for the fact that it seemed to bother everyone else. If they weren't bothered, then why would they be trying to change me? And if being quiet was good, then why would it make everyone uncomfortable? Of course there must be something questionable in it!

"I like being quiet," I'd say.

"Yeah, but you'll grow out of that. You'll see. And here's what you need to do to get started ..."

I didn't want to grow out of it. But I felt like I was the only one who didn't see my introversion as a problem, like I was the only one who didn't feel like I needed help.

How could anyone know what's best for me, though? I didn't even know what was best for myself. I'm sure no one else knew what was good for themselves, either; yet, we're all so quick to prescribe.

Most of the time -- though maybe not always -- I think we're the only ones who know best. I think we have a better idea than anyone else. Then again, maybe growing up as an introvert has simply made me suspicious of everyone else's opinions.

Who knows?


Shyness Is Not Introversion

I never meant to make it an issue when I began writing this blog, but apparently it's something I feel strongly about. Going through my old blog entries, I've found that I repeat myself a lot on this topic. I often make a point of stating that I'm not shy, and that being introverted does not mean being shy. They're two different things.

Realizing that I keep repeating myself, I try to avoid the subject. But recently I came across an article that illustrates why it bothers me so much.

The article, which is supposedly reporting science, does so in such a non-scientific way as to make everything in it suspect. It not only lumps introversion and shyness together, but it also places all people into just two categories (as if there are only two). I quote:

"Biologists are beginning to agree that within one species there can be two equally successful "personalities."

Really? Is that what biologists agree on? There can only be two successful personalities?


While there might be something to gain from the study itself (also from similar books, such as The Highly Sensitive Person book from a few years back), articles like this are best ignored. Shyness is not introversion, and people who are "sensitive" do not have only one of two successful personalities.

But you decide for yourself.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Be Your Own Philosopher

Everyone should have their own philosophy by some point in their lives. Don't be a subscriber. Steal from other philosophies, but don't subscribe to them. Be your own philosopher. Have your own mind.

Here's a philosophy that people will preach: Man is a social animal -- you're meant to be social. Maybe there's some grain of truth in that, but don't believe it. Man isn't one thing or another. You make up mankind just as much as the next person, and you don't have to be social just because someone tells you that you're supposed to be, or that it's best for society in general. They say "we" developed instincts for survival and that one of them is to be "social." Well, "we" also developed you. Your survival indicates that mankind needs you, whether you're social or not.

That word "we", along with that word "mankind", are used in a general sense, taken (perhaps) from an average of us all -- the common denominator. Don't be average. Don't be common. Be the one-of-a-kind that you are. Have your own philosophy.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Shell

Lately, I've been organizing my CD collection and ripping albums -- yes, I know, I'm slow to adhere to change (who owns CD's any more?) -- and I keep noticing certain songs, songs that bring back memories of the nonsense that I went through growing up as an introvert. For example, there's one song by a great band called Supertramp, a song titled "Hide In Your Shell", which takes me right back to high school. Not because of the song itself -- which I quite like, by the way -- but because of the phrase in its title. I can't count the number of times my "shell" was referred to back then. I do know that it was frequent enough to make me wonder whether I did in fact have some sort of invisible barrier erected between myself and the rest of the world; either that or some sort of disease.

Nowadays I know what people meant by it. They thought I was shy, and by "shy" they meant fearful. The nice ones said that they wanted to help get me out of my shell, but they misunderstood me as much as anyone else. I wasn't shy. I don't like that word; most often it means "timid", and that's not an accurate way to describe introverts. I'm not saying that some introverts aren't also shy. I'm saying that the two terms aren't synonymous.

I never considered myself more fearful than the next person. Sure, I was nervous when I gave presentations in front of groups (waiting to stand in front of class was awful); but I was perfectly comfortable talking with people one-on-one. Yes, I became overwhelmed when there was too much socialness, but I wasn't afraid of it -- I just didn't know how to operate in those situations. I was categorized as a timid person, though, and for a long time I thought that really was a problem I needed to fix within myself.

It wasn't.

On the other hand, I probably do have a shell, of sorts. Who doesn't? Mine is not a shell made of fear, however; it's something equally natural, but definitely not anything that needs to be discarded. I think we introverts live "in a world of our own" for two reasons: first, because it's instinct, because that's where we're able to feel most like ourselves, and, second, because we're overly sensitive to the rest of the world, and we're worn out easily by it. Maybe these two reasons are one and the same, actually. We construct limits to help ourselves out, to get ourselves back to our inner "worlds"; we may as well call these limits "shells."

But that's not fear. I'm just as brave, and just as confident, as anyone can be. And I'm just as fearful, too. I'd rather not be boxed into the shy category, though; I'll define who I am and what kind of shell I have. I'm not hiding because I'm afraid. I'm hiding because it's required of me by nature. Or, well, that's more or less what I think, anyway.

If I'd known better back then, I would've questioned my supposed shell less; I would've been more proud of it.

Some lyrics:
Love me, love you
Loving is the way to
Help me, help you
Why must we be so cool, oh so cool?
Oh, we're such damn fools...

-- Supertramp


Monday, April 26, 2010

Silence Looks Like Wisdom?

Eh. It's just time for more drawings. Plus, this helps me feel less guilty for not writing regularly.

Silence looks like wisdom


Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Place To Get Away To

Well, it's been about a month since I last wrote and I suppose that means I'm due for another entry, if only to keep up my average for the year. My latest excuse for not writing more is that I've been in the process of moving. I've hardly had a chance to rest. I sold my house last month, was stranded between places for a week and a half, and finally moved in to my new home two weeks ago. Now that things are beginning to settle down a little, I think it's only fair to use the moving process as an excuse to write here.

See, I moved from a large home in the suburbs to a tiny condo in the midst of downtown. It's a decision that may seem unfitting for an extreme introvert. Why would I move from a place where I could withdraw more easily to a place where I'm practically surrounded by people all day long? I suspect that my choice is a bit perplexing to some. It doesn't seem to suit my personality.

While I had many reasons for choosing to move downtown, none of them involved wanting to be close to the action. I didn't long for more connections or for more activity. Yet I don't think my choice would've been incongruous with being an introvert even if these had been my reasons. Introverts, including the extreme ones, are not necessarily hermits; at least, not all of the time. It's true that the tendency towards seclusion may exist -- as for myself, I would love to have a cabin in the mountains -- but it's not a defining characteristic. Introverts withdraw within themselves, not necessarily to isolated spots in the woods.

On the other hand, I think it's very helpful to have a place to escape to. And maybe that is a defining characteristic. Having a place to get away to (a room, a park, a silent desk, etc.) seems important. My particular place has long been my home. It doesn't matter that it's now located near the frenzy of downtown. I can still get away from it all; I still have a place where I can escape from the world and settle into my own head (which is the primary goal, after all). The separation might not be as vast as it once was, but it works.

Maybe it's true for everyone; maybe we all need a place that offers up some sort of relief. Often that place is home. For me (and for introverts, in general, I think), that place also has to make the rest of the world fade away for a while. It's a place where everything else can be forgotten.

And I think I can have that, even at my new home.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Omniscient Quiet Ones

The Quiet One, from

Honestly, I'm posting this because I figured this blog could use some drawings. Something visual. But this comic is interesting, in its own way. It's another one of the common perceptions that people (in general) seem to have about introverts. But this one is hard to complain about.

Often I find that others will interpret my silence as "a knowing silence." As in: "Those who know don't speak." People will read a lot into silence, after all, and sometimes what they read into it isn't so bad. Such perceptions can even become an advantage; I've been known to take advantage of them, at least.

The truth is that silence doesn't necessarily mean anything of the sort. And while I believe there's wisdom in remaining quiet at times, I just don't think there's knowledge in it.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

What It Takes To Be A Good Sniper

I took off my headphones and was ready to get up to leave the office for the day when a coworker looked over and laughed.

"What?" I asked.

"Apparently you're a good shot?"

"I am?"

And then I noticed the toy guns that some of the other office workers were playing with. Another coworker said, "Yeah, you know: Still waters."

More laughter.

"Oh," I said. "I think I should be offended."