Sunday, June 26, 2011

Guess Who I Bumped Into Today?

One of my co-workers at the law firm I work at is rarely, if ever, in the office. Nice life, but that's beside the point. When he does show his face, I try to make an effort to appear friendly and likeable, as he is the epitome of a Schmooze Monster (my name for the completely over-the-top, so-see-through-it's-pathetic type of person). Despite my distaste for him, he's the key to my employment so I have to engage.

As I walked by his office Friday morning, I hear him yell his happy "Good Morning", which I was not expecting since he never arrives on time. I didn't necessarily panic, but I hesitated and walked a few feet before I decided to throw a half-wave, which looked like I was throwing up a gang sign, and a "Howarrreyaaa?". Not only did I spit out a "ya" when I hate using abbreviations and slang, but I said it with a slight Southern twang. I'm from Boston.

I should move to Awkward City, where I could run for Mayor...and probably win.

In all seriousness, this is a common occurrence (not the gang signs, I swear). I tend to walk with purpose and a sense of urgency, getting to my target destination with a task on my mind. In the meantime, I always find running into people awkward. I know that all it requires is a simple "Hi, how are you?", but I dread it. Social rules vary from person to person, making the quick interaction entirely unpredictable. Some people give a little half-smile, others say hello, or some ask how you are and don't really respond beyond that. What frustrates me most is when people stop dead in their tracks and start a conversation. I'm then stuck engaging in chitchat I didn't prepare myself for. It's a form of interaction that does not allow for the response time introverts require. And then the moment passes before I think of the appropriate response.

I've gone so far as to figure out the least-populated walking route to my office to avoid these situations in the hallways. I often scold myself for this behavior, because people are just trying to be nice, after all. It shouldn't be so hard to reciprocate, and in most cases, it isn't.

I've made what I feel is a fair compromise with myself though. I am more than capable of participating in the niceties of "Hi, how are you?" And in reason I should, because I don't consider myself a rude person. Most people don't realize how uncomfortable I am with meaningless conversation, and that's exactly it...they don't understand. The last thing I want to do is insult someone or come off as an Ice Queen, which I know is how many extroverts probably perceive me when I stutter some incoherent greeting or give a half-assed grin.

But...if it's one of those days where I am feeling completely inward and not up for the potential, unexpected chitchat, it's completely acceptable for me to take advantage of my special walking route to work. It's okay to catch an acquaintance out of the corner of my eye in the middle of the mall and turn the other way. Who says this makes me inept or rude? As an introvert, I'm entitled to this just as much as I should make an effort to smile and wave.

And you know what? I don't think there's anything wrong with that.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


No, it's not a Batman episode.

Loud, continuous noise has always been an irritation to me. Ear-deafening music feels like torture. Banging pots and pans...I shudder to think of them. Noise seems to especially bother me most while I'm driving. If I have a passenger in the car with me who wants to make conservation, or I'm driving somewhere unfamiliar, I keep the radio low. I never thought twice about this until my friends started pointing it out; "Hey Granny, turn up the music!"

I never correlated my noise aversion to my introversion. I always assumed it was due to being an "old soul" as most of my family and friends have always labeled me. The more I think about it, the more it becomes clear. Just as someone yapping away at me is exhausting, loud noise drains me. It's a complete interruption of whatever I am focusing on or thinking about. If I don't know where I am driving to, loud music is a huge distraction for me. If my passenger wants to talk, I need to place all my energy into chatting.

Yet I find if I'm the one making the noise, I'm perfectly okay with it. That's also in line with the introverted personality though, since in that case the noise is part of the task I'm focused on.

Loud noises aren't going to disappear, nor can i selfishly expect people to not engage in creating them. I only point out my pet peeve because it's funny how my little quirks that people have always poked fun at are often explained by my introverted personality. These are attributes that I've often felt self-conscious about, but now I'm comforted understanding where they stem from!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Your Introverted Child

I've been thinking about how long it has taken me to realize that it is perfectly okay to be an introvert.

My parents are nothing but the best...loving, caring, and spoiled me to death. I honestly have no right to complain. Yet I know that had the people around me not pushed me to break out of my shell and point out the fact that I didn't fit in, I would not be struggling with myself as a 25 year old. It's not their fault, nor do I mean to blame them. They were just uninformed, concerned parents.

I just wanted to take a moment to urge all parents out there with introverted children to accept them as they are. No, it's not healthy for kids to stay holed up all the time...but if your child seems to need a break from socializing, give it to them. They're not deficient and they're not in need of help. They are no less happy than any other child.

All an introverted child requires is help to cultivate their strengths and give them the confidence they need, and most importantly, deserve.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Falling Clocks Syndrome

As much as I hope to champion the advantages of being an introvert, I am also the first to admit to its downfalls.

Introverts tend to be extremely analytical. Of course, this is a beneficial attribute to have, but other times it can be tortuous. The second I have a moment alone or am doing some mundane task like highway driving, I become totally lost in my thoughts.

Thinking isn't necessarily a bad thing. Let's face it, far too many people do far too little thinking. The problem lies in what I think about. I don't think about what I should eat for dinner, plan my next vacation or when I need an oil change. Instead, I spend hours pondering life's complexities; from the origin of the world, to religion, to death. Anything name it, I think about it.

Sometimes it's nice to feel intellectual and theorize, and I do enjoy deep thinking. And it certainly is something I do not wish
to stop completely. But often I feel like Alice in Wonderland falling through the rabbit hole with ticking clocks and the Cheshire Cat mocking me. It's unnerving that I focus so much energy on questions that lack answers. My deep thinking can even work me up to the point of making me anxious when I can't explain these mysteries.

One solution would be to express my ideas and chat with others about them, and this is exactly the type of conversation I excel in. Yet, after more than a few strange looks and raised eyebrows, I've discovered that most people don't share my interest. So my theories on time and life after death are kept to myself, resulting in a rare but glaring feeling of loneliness and futility. When my thoughts get to the point of resulting in these feelings, I find my analytical nature to be detrimental.

As much as it is natural for the introvert to find themselves in deep thought, I need to strive for only a healthy dose of the Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole.