October 08, 2011

To be Social, or Not to be Social

I used to pretend to be social--I spoke loudly, went to well-attended events, and psyched myself up enough to engage in high-octane conversation.  But the constant "on" left me exhausted in the end.  Exhausted and anxious--a bad high that came crashing down after a few hours of mania.  In those situations, I found myself doing mindless tasks, rather than keeping up with the organic flow of conversation: staring off into space, vision blurring, dishes washing.  Strange behavior?

By nature, I am an introvert.  As a child, I chose writing, reading, and drawing as favorite past-times, rather than interacting with others.  I've been typecast as shy and quiet for the majority of my life.  What a stereotype.  When has introversion not been regarded as a negative character trait?  It's been a long time coming, but I eventually learned that introversion is not necessarily a bad thing.  (It helps when your husband is just as introverted/more introverted as you are.)  You can't change who you are, so embrace your unique qualities.  Uniqueness breeds new ways of thinking, of being.  If everyone was an extrovert, the world would be an altogether exhausting, emotionally and physically draining place.  Sometimes we all need peace and quiet, hence the popular, zen-like phrase, "peace and quiet."

Contrary to the introversion myth, there are varying degrees of introversion.  For example, I do quite well with one-on-one conversations.  However, when more than a few people decide to join in the conversation, I freeze a bit--my palms sweat, fear sets in.  Also, I've learned that I can't be tied down with meaningless conversation.  If the conversation sways in this direction, I get frustrated and borderline irritated, feeling like I am wasting my time.  Hey, maybe I'm just a curmudgeon at heart.

      "A curmudgeon's reputation for malevolence is undeserved. They're neither warped nor evil at heart. They don't hate mankind, just mankind's absurdities. They're just as sensitive and soft-hearted as the next guy, but they hide their vulnerability beneath a crust of misanthropy. They ease the pain by turning hurt into humor.  . . . . .   They attack maudlinism because it devalues genuine sentiment.   . . . . .   Nature, having failed to equip them with a serviceable denial mechanism, has endowed them with astute perception and sly wit. 

      Curmudgeons are mockers and debunkers whose bitterness is a symptom rather than a disease. They can't compromise their standards and can't manage the suspension of disbelief necessary for feigned cheerfulness. Their awareness is a curse. 

      Perhaps curmudgeons have gotten a bad rap in the same way that the messenger is blamed for the message: They have the temerity to comment on the human condition without apology. They not only refuse to applaud mediocrity, they howl it down with morose glee. Their versions of the truth unsettle us, and we hold it against them, even though they soften it with humor."   
 - JON WINOKUR, from here.


GoHeyJudy said...

LOL! There's nothing more irritating than a useless conversation. We can start "The Curmudgeon Club!"

EmeraldCut said...

Oh, that would be so fun, GoHeyJudy! :)