Thursday, March 21, 2013

The loud introvert


It turns out I'm an introvert.

It's taken me a very long time to realize that...  technically decades, but the realization has been sneaking up on me for a couple years now.  Moving to Austin, meeting Kim, having Conan, just finally growing up...  or maybe there really is only so long a person can avoid realizing something so obvious about themselves.

I could point out the many ways in which we, in this society, have the advantages of extroversion ground into us.  It's so strong that it just feels like natural truth to most of us that extroversion is superior.  After all, those extroverted people are the one's going out and getting stuff done, right?

It's strong enough that for many of us, it seems preferable to think that we're misanthropes raging against a failed world.  At least it makes more sense.

And wanting time to yourself in this world seems so rude.  People take it as an insult that you'd rather be with no one than them.  Thinking of yourself as an extrovert, there's no defense.

I've been rolling the concept around in my head for a while now, as I've said.

Hearing, increasingly, people describe it - Is it a growing part of the world conversation or was I just ready to listen? - as taking your energy from time spent alone rather than extroverts who take their energy from being among other people.  It made more and more sense.

Frankly, once I finally processed it, everything made sense.

I stated it on Facebook, "I really am an introvert. That's a very, very strange realization for me. It has, in fact, been years developing... it's so contrary to what I thought about myself... or wanted to think about myself. I need to find a way to make my life work with that. For so very, very long, I've tried to fix me and convincing myself I've just been "off" for a bit and another bit... and another."

I want to say it was like my Alcoholics Anonymous moment, but it was more like coming out.

Friends shared their similar revelations and recommended Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain and Party of One: The Loners' Manifesto by Anneli Rufus, both of which top my reading list.

And the more I consider this, the more obvious and the more secrets it offers for how to fix what's been wrong with my life, and how I've gone about living it up until now.

Every job I've done well at and every job I've done poorly at.  Every duty at each of those jobs that I did comparatively well or poorly at.

Every personal relationship that's worked or not worked.

Why I enjoyed running alone in fields or playing in the woods by myself as I grew up. Why school was so much like fucking torture.  Why I'd cut class to sit in the library and read books.  Why in school suspension was probably ultimately ineffective in getting me to stop cutting class.

The reason why I was able to find bursts of creativity at some times in my life, frequently an enforced period of solitude, such as long walk on my commute, although also a period when I was able to get frequent time swimming off by myself and just imagining.

I've always placed that as just a self-discipline issue, but there's a reason why self-discipline is so difficult at other times.  It's not a random failure.  It based deeply in not embracing who I am.


Excited, and freed by this realization, I watched this.

I watched a bunch of Susan Cain videos, and I really got a heck of lot out of them and I'm looking forward to her book a lot.

I've got an issue I really do want to raise, though.

She focuses on the word "quiet".  It's the title of her book even.

And one of my obstacles in coming to this realization is that I'm goddamn loud.

While processing this, I created a Johnny Rotten playlist and cranked that shit up.

I recommend doing the same, if you have some shit you're trying to process. I can only do good for you, right?


See?  Doesn't that feel better?  It's like your brain just got back to where it's supposed to.

Motherfuckers are always putting some people chattering at you on the morning radio and, as I noted in Morning Loudness, all I want is to hear some people rock!  Hang on... That's because they're extroverts, isn't it? They need a burst of energy in the morning, they psychically commune with other people, even far away radio people.

For me, it's like living in a world where people like to be beaten in the morning, as part of their routine, so my commute involves avoiding the many gauntlets set up along the way for their benefit.  The very fact that they want that makes them...  other...  alien.

It still seems suspicious, but I've had my realization that eases my view slightly.

Me, I want to drive away all of the people with something... good.


Ok. That helped.

But really it's not just my music that's loud.

Shit, my music's not even always loud.

But I am.

I talk loud.

I walk loud.

I piss loud.

I think loud most of the time.

Most of those alone times I celebrated way back before the TED Talks video, I wasn't communing with nature. I was walking through a big dirty loud fucking city filled with people and their noise.

Not their individual noises. Those require some kind of engagement.

That big, beautiful din of humanity everywhere that envelops everything and frees you to live perfectly in that one moment of perfection.

It's so clear now. It's obvious how that's the same thing. It's obvious, when it comes to you, that all of those noises are careful utilized to separate me from the people sapping my energy.

But when introversion is so often associated with quiet and nature and tranquility then it seems an unlikely match for this grumpy urban boy.

So, that was an easy place to hang my head of resisting what should have been so obvious, but seemed so undesirable.


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