Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Simple Making Of Sounds

He wondered why this should be, why the things this woman was saying should delight him so, particularly when he barely understood them. He knew very well that the great majority of human conversation is meaningless. A man can get through most of his days on stock answers to stock questions, he thought. Once he catches on to the game, he can manage with an assortment of grunts. This would not be so if people listened to each other, but they don't. They know that no one is going to say anything moving and important to them at that very moment. Anything important will be announced in the newspapers and reprinted for those who missed it. No one really wants to know how his neighbor is feeling, but he asks him anyway, because it is polite, and because he knows that his neighbor certainly will not tell him how he feels. What this woman and I say to each other is not important. It is the simple making of sounds that pleases us.

Excerpt from A Fine & Private Place
by Peter S. Beagle


Thursday, August 11, 2011

On Not Explaining Myself

I find myself explaining too often that I'm not shy, and I realize that I shouldn't be making such a fuss. It's really only a matter of semantics, and not everyone cares as much about the distinction in meaning as I do. Plus, why should it matter to me what others think? Especially when I'm not all that close to them?

The next time someone says that I'm shy, I'll remind myself that it's not important to disagree. Perhaps I'll just play along. Why resist? Why not simply agree and say that I am shy? And then maybe excuse myself because I'm too shy to continue talking with them.

Or I suppose I could just let it pass and then continue on to some other topic. It's not as if I can change anyone's mind. Still, I guess I'd rather take an interest in someone who's willing to understand my perspective as much as I'd be willing to understand theirs. But I know this is idealistic nonsense. And maybe it's not always worth the effort.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

No Monopoly On Being Private

Recently I was asked whether I'd call myself shy. I said no, of course. I explained that the word "shy" tends to mean "timid", and I'm not that. I'm often quiet and I'm surely an introvert, but -- despite the fact that I frequently avoid them -- I'm not fearful of others.

Then, knowing that she's an extrovert and yet very private, I pointed out that possessing those two traits at the same time was a bit surprising, and that one would normally think of someone like myself as being more private.

"There's a huge difference between being an extrovert and not being able to maintain privacy," she said.

And she was right. I realized that my words were thoughtless. I bet a lot of people make the mistake of thinking of introverts as close-mouthed while thinking of extroverts as having very little discretion with their words. But that's not necessarily the case. Maybe it often appears to be, but it's probably because we see more from extroverts; our experience is skewed.

It's interesting to remember that there are misconceptions about everyone, about every group, and about every type of person. We introverts don't have a monopoly on maintaining privacy. It only seems that way.


Why I Should Wear Headphones More Often

Except for myself and one of the new additions to our team, my coworkers were all going to be travelling to an office in another state for meetings. I overheard them talking about it while I was banging away at my keyboard. Probably I began to pay more attention because I heard my name mentioned.

"You won't be on your own," one coworker said to the new team member who would also be staying in Seattle. "Zeri will be here, and you two can have a party."

Having heard this part, I chimed in, "Yep, I'll be here."

"And he's a riot," the coworker continued. "You can see how chatty he is."

They all laughed, and I noticed the new team member nodding. I smiled and turned back to my work. And then I wondered if the new coworker had -- within the day or two since he had been hired -- already identified me as the invisible person on the team.

Probably I would have hung out with him, and grabbed some lunch or drinks while the rest of our colleagues were away. Now I just tried to put the sarcasm out of my mind, and I wished my attention hadn't strayed from my work.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Silence Is Scary

She was telling me about how uncomfortable she is around her step dad. "It's even worse when he's quiet," she said.

"There's nothing wrong with being quiet," I said.

"I know, I know, but it makes me nervous," she said.