Understanding the introvert

This blog post is inspired by a friend of mine and an XKCD “what if?” post.

So a few days ago I was in the hospital. Nothing too major, just a really bad migraine and cause I’d had no history of migraines previously my GP said it would be best to go in for a full check up (CT, blood works and stuff). I ended up in a private hospital cause public hospitals have really long waits in Ireland and my Mother has good health insurance (she works in a pharmaceutical company). I’d never really paid attention to health insurance but I think from now on I will, having a personal room in a hospital is so much better than having one with people in it.

However it’s still very boring being confined to a hospital bed for two days so, when they said they wanted to keep me in I figured I’d ask if people could come around. So come Friday, after a minimal amount of sitting around with nothing to do and no one to talk to a friend of mine. A friend that I hadn’t seen in like 4 years and talked to in like …3.5. We had a long and pretty good conversation where we talked about being an introvert. He said that he found it very hard, needing to tell people that sometimes he just needed a day to himself and declared every Sunday would be Joeday (using a nickname for me as a substitute). But as he said sometimes it isn’t enough. I quite often feel the same way.

My job has be talking to people… a lot. I’m more or less working on a helpdesk, but most of the time I’m going out upgrading old pcs at the moment, which involves personal interaction with people. So at the end of the day I’m tired and I just want some time to myself. When it comes to the weekend I am still tired from the weeks work and time to myself is cherished… not that I get enough but that’s what happens when you live with people.

Before anyone gets confused, I’m not saying that I hate talking to someone. It’s just tiring, I mean it’s always the same rigmarole. “Hello, how are you?” “I’m fine, you?” (thanks to another friend who ranted about this on Facebook). It’s like every time you see someone you have to talk to them. I’m happy to install a computer in complete silence and only talking to the user when I have a question about their software. But they will inevitably start talking, or someone in the room would start talking. After which I have to reply or be an asshole. Then a conversation starts that I’m not interested. It’s just kind of exhausting cause 40 minutes later I’m at another user doing their pc and the same thing happens. By the end of the day I’ve had 4 or 5 conversations that didn’t really amount to much and I would much rather have listened to music. Which means almost invariably the last thing I want to do is talk to people, be it my mother or an acquaintance or someone I see on the street.

The exception to this is someone that I don’t count as being among the multitudes of “people”. As one of my friends said to me “You don’t count as people while I’m hermiting”. Now there are a lot of people that I really don’t mind talking to… like ever. But with almost everyone else, it’s actually an effort and it’s tiring. So parties are even worse. In a previous post I wrote about how I survived a wedding by repeatedly leaving for 5 or 10 minutes to “recharge”. Eventually it ends up I come back from recharging and want to leave again, that’s when I leave for good.

A lot of people (apparently) don’t like being alone, which is understandable, as a species we are very pack orientated and the lone wolf never survives long. Which means that being alone or on the outside makes us feel unsettled cause it means we have done something to be cast out and our chances of survival are reduced (I thought of this as I was typing… seems legit though). So if you are an extrovert I can understand why you think being alone is a bad thing. However I want you to try a little mental exercise:

1. Imagine a large group of your friends, perhaps at your birthday gathering.

2. Now imagine that group was comprised of different social circles, perhaps a group of team-mates, co-workers and lastly past colleagues.

3. Now imagine that each of those expected you to be like them. Maybe your team mates are rowdy and drinking it up, while your co-workers are chatting about business over glasses of wine, while your past colleagues sit back and talk about “the good old days”.

It’s hard to live up to those kinds of expectations especially at the same time. But that’s something that is ingrained in societal groups. People constantly have expectations of you and would like you to conform to those expectations or it makes them uncomfortable. I hate those expectations. I hate that kind of pressure. At it’s simplest I’m not able to be myself around people. So I have to put up a face to deal with them to make my life easier in the long run. Sometimes I fail at this.

I’m a very honest person, and when I’m not careful I’m honest to a fault. There have been a few times, not many, but a few a conversation will go something like:

(Acquaintance)”I consider you a friend”

(Me)”Cool”

(Acquaintance)”I mean it you are such a great person”

(Me)”….Thanks?”

(Acquaintance)”Would you consider me a friend?”

(Me)”Nope, not really”

Now to me friend is actually quite a high barrier for entry, cause in essence it’s someone around whom I feel I can just be me. There are a few other things but for now let’s leave it at that. It’s a person around whom I don’t feel any pressure to be anything other than me. Now a lot of people that read this might say “You can be yourself around me”. But I can’t, trust me on this one. I’m generally a nice person, but if someone irks me I don’t say it. Sometimes it’s just the way they are, but to be myself around that person would be to admit that they irk me. (That word is starting to sounds weird… irk, irk…. <.< … >.> … irk). Admitting it would lead to conflict and conflict will lead to disputes and disputes lead to stress and stress leads to the dark side.

But to get back on topic. In groups of people I feel pressure to be something I’m not. I know other people probably do, but it actually really stresses me. The best way I can recharge is to be alone. Where I can sit back and just chill.

After writing up this post I decided to do research…. I don’t know why either and found an interesting blog post thing: Linkage.

Now it’s pointed out that a lot of his “Common Myths” can also be attributed to Asperger’s Syndrome and the like. To which I’m going to say that similarities should be expected, I imagine that most people with Asperger’s Syndrome are introverts because of the nature of the differences in the brain, but not all introverts have Asperger’s Syndrome. All cows are mammals but not all mammals are cows…. except in this case most cows are mammals… the rest are birds?

Before I sign off I will repeat something Carl said. If you are friends with an introvert they will be your friend for life. Anyone whom I have call friend could call me up and say “Joey I need to talk” and you can bet your lives fortune that I will do anything in my power to help them.

Have a good day all!

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About Snababo

What can I say? I'm 26, Irish, have Asperger's Syndrome and a lot on my mind.
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