An Introvert’s Perspective (In Graphs)

Everyday

I spent most of my life thinking I was an extrovert. Perhaps it because of the years I spent doing theater or tagging around with my very extroverted twin sister, but I was thoroughly convinced I was one of the most extroverted people around. Boy, was I wrong. It wasn’t until college that I made the discovery that I was introverted. This realization led to a miniature identity crisis during which I had to battle my own negative perceptions of introverts, embrace my introverted ways, and learn how to live in a life I had built with extroverted bricks.

So what makes an introvert an introvert? Introverts aren’t all that much different from extroverts. We just get our energy in different ways. Extroverts are fueled by spending time with other people. Introverts are fueled by spending time alone.

photo (1)Some things to remember about introverts is that they like to talk (Introvert Myth #1: Busted), but they prefer talking with small groups rather than in large groups. We won’t typically offer up information about ourselves, but that’s not because we’re antisocial (Introvert Myth #2: Busted), we just need to be asked. We also like to do crazy, awesome, borderline dangerous things (Introvert Myth #3: Busted), but might need a day (or two) to recharge afterward.

One of the things that made me realize I was, in fact, introverted, was when I thought about what I liked to do for fun (things that didn’t drain me of energy).

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But my life tends to require a lot of extraversion. So I implement a trick I call “faking extraversion.” I simply act like I’m extroverted and go about my activities as such. This comes pretty easy for me since I’m naturally outgoing (Introvert Myth #4: Busted). It works so well that I actually have to convince most people I’m an introvert.

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But this can only go on for so long. Like most introverts, I have a limited reserve of social energy (“fake extraversion”) and I run out of it eventually. If I don’t ration it off properly or give myself time to recharge, I crash. And I crash hard.

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At this point I have to become a temporary hermit and will spend anywhere from a few hours to a whole weekend “recharging.” I call my temporary sanctuary (or recharge station) my “hidey-hole,” and it can be an assortment of set-ups as depicted by the formula below:

imageExample:

Tea + Blanket + A Good Book + My Apartment = Perfect Hidey-Hole
Hoodie + Socks + Movie + Dark Movie Theater = Perfect Hidey-Hole
Hot Meal + Sofa + Board Game + Boyfriend’s Apartment = Perfect Hidey-Hole

There’s a lot of stuff going around the interwebs about how amazing introverts are and how people should treat introverts better, on and on ad nauseam. And although I agree that our society’s standards should change to be more understanding of the benefits of introversion, I don’t think that introverts are any better than extroverts. We have different strengths and weaknesses, different preferences and different pet peeve’s. Some of the best teams come from mixing extroverts and an introverts – like my sister and I. Ultimately, introverts are just people who need time to observe, reflect, and introspect. And I’m proud to call myself one of them.

 

 

 

 

Doing Things For Me

Everyday

If you have spent at least five minutes with me then you’ve heard me say “I’m a words of affirmation person.” If I haven’t said it to you yet, just give me another five minutes.

You see, I’m very big on personality assessments and understanding myself better so I can better understand others. So it was a revelation for me when I took the Love Languages test and discovered that the number one way I receive affirmation is through words. I crave sincere words of gratitude, praise, or affirmation. This doesn’t mean I beg for compliments. It just means that I am motivated and feel loved when people verbally affirm me.

This is great in a lot of ways because I am easily motivated by notes of encouragement and little things like being told by a teacher that they think I’m smart or the “chips” affirmation program at my office. But it is also a big reason that I am a Pathological People Pleaser.

People Pleasing is basically constructing your life around what others think. Although I am very independent and don’t really care what people think about my personality, I can care so much about what others think of my competence, intelligence, achievements, or niceness that I am often paralyzed by even the possibility of receiving negative words – or no words at all. But I want to change that. And I know where to start.

Last year, I had moderate success with my Daily Doodle. I got lots of compliments and “likes” and requests. So I began to shape my doodles around what I thought people would like to see. Obviously, the words of affirmation I received grew. That isn’t inherently bad. It’s a smart way to generate content. But now I’m working on my 2014 project: a 365-sentence story created by writing one sentence a day for a year. And you know what? It’s not always the most interesting to read. It can be slow for people who are used to constant information – or who like to read stories more than a sentence at a time. I’ve also discovered that a sentence isn’t as fun to look at as a doodle. Am I right?

So for the past five months I have struggled with contributing to a project with almost no words of affirmation accompanying it (Note: I am truly thankful for my friends who are following along!). But then I realized something important. Like this blog, I didn’t start this project to get attention or get famous or have people hang on my every word. I started it because I wanted to stretch myself as a writer. I wanted to see if I could create a full story with living characters while being shackled with intense time and creative restrictions. I wanted to test my patience.

I’ve decided to stop caring about what people think. My story could be the worst story in the history of stories, but as long as I complete it I will consider it a success. I’m doing it for me, and that’s all that should matter.

Internal Processor (Or “My Life In Graphs”)

Doodles, Everyday

In light of my last post, I’ve been thinking more about the way I think. Most of the time my brain works like a computer, inputting data from the outside world, compartmentalizing people and places, and spitting out “solutions” to my daily tasks. I often call my brain my “internal processor.” It’s just how I think. So, I decided to present to you a bit of my life in the way I tend to see the world: in graphs and charts. Enjoy:

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Photo Sep 19, 9 00 38 AM

I’m Not Nice

christianity

Sometimes I feel like people think I’m far nicer than I really am. And that concerns me. Because I live with myself every second of every day and I can tell you with complete assurance that I am most certainly not a nice person.

I know you’re probably thinking, “she’s being over critical” or “anyone could say the same thing.” But I’m serious. I’m not a nice person. If I could connect a loud-speaker to the part of my brain that produces thought and blast my thoughts out to the world, you would see how not nice I am.

Now, I’m not denying that everyone thinks mean thoughts at some point. What I’m saying is I don’t think people realize how much I have to filter myself on a regular basis in order not to come off as a judgmental jerk.

I just don’t want people thinking that I’m this super sweet person when I’m not. Or that I’m some goodie-two-shoes with nothing bad to say about anyone. Because that’s not true. At any given moment I can present to you a list of 10 things I don’t like about a person – and that’s before I have time to really think about it.

My complete understanding of the brokeness of my innermost character is what enables me to fully embrace the Christian faith. If an Intelligent Creator exists, I know that I have failed Him. And I continue to fail Him every day. Because with every positive step forward in my journey of humanity, I end up taking a giant leap backwards as my faulty nature takes control again. If He requires penitence and reparation, I will never redeem myself on my own. I can’t. That is why I thank God every moment of every day for sending His son to die in my place.

So, every day when I catch myself in a moment of weakness, when my sinful nature is fully exposed to me and I realize how much of a not-nice person I am, I step back and thank God that I’m not in charge of my own salvation. In spite of myself, I have been redeemed. That’s Grace. And it’s something worth believing.

I Write A Lot

Poetry

I write a lot of poetry,

That nobody will ever see,

Because a little part of me,

Is afraid they’ll say it sucks.

Then what does that make me?

Poetry

I may not think the way you do,

Or share a similar world view,

I suck at basic social cues,

But I’m a person, too.

 

I may not laugh out loud at jokes,

Or be a fan of cooked egg yolks,

I am obsessed with Diet Cokes,

But I’m a person, too.

 

I may not always sing on key,

Or like to go on shopping sprees,

I might be terrified of bees,

But I’m a person, too.

 

I may not always keep my cool,

Or say I’ve ever “hated” school,

And every time I sleep, I drool,

But I’m a person, too.

 

I may not have the perfect smile,

Or have the most impressive style,

I would not walk 500 miles,

But I’m a person, too.

 

I may not be the type to cry,

Or one to look you in the eyes,

Emotions tend to make me shy,

But I’m a person, too.

 

I may over-think a lot,

And question everything I’ve got,

But whether you like it or not,

I’m still a person, too.

 

Are you?

The Hedgehog’s Dilemma

Everyday, Ponderings

I’ve recently discovered my new favorite animal: the hedgehog. I had no clue why I was so drawn to these creatures, so, in classic Haley manner, I decided to do some intense research (via the Wikipedia).

Hedgehogs are adorable little animals that look a lot like miniature porcupines – cute, adorable little porcupines. Just search for hedgehogs on YouTube and you’ll understand their cuteness – especially the one swimming in a bathtub.

They are pretty neat creatures. They are nocturnal and are almost complete insectivores (which means they eat a lot of bugs). They also have sharp quills on their backs that make them look more intimidating than they really are. The spines aren’t poisonous, just sharp and prickly. They have soft underbellies though (which you can see in the hedgehog bathtub video). When threatened or frightened, they roll up into tight balls, causing their spines to point outwards. Sadly, some species are endangered. And that bewilders me, because who really wants to destroy these things?

Despite their inherent cuteness, hedgehogs have a slight problem. They cannot touch each other, even when necessary. When it gets really cold, a group of hedgehogs will try to group together to share each other’s warmth, but, their sharp, spiny backs prevent them from ever touching. And so, they must remain apart.

This concept really disturbed me. And then, I realized why I have a strange fascination with the hedgehog…

I am one.

Schopenhauer and Freud used the hedgehog’s inability to touch to create a social theory called the Hedgehog’s Dilemma. They argued that human intimacy cannot occur without substantial mutual harm. They also use it to explain introversion and isolationism. I use it to explain my fear of relationships.

Since moving away and starting my own life, I’ve discovered a few things about myself. 1.) I can put on an amazingly good show of being confident in myself even though I’m often not, and, 2.) I’m really good at finding everything there is to know about someone without letting them know a single thing about me. In other words, I put up a lot of quills. And no matter how much I want to be close to someone, my quills get in the way. I think I do this because, despite my hard exterior, I have a really soft underbelly and I don’t want to get hurt. That’s why, when threatened, you’ll often find me in a tight, little ball, keeping others out.

And that is what I call, the Haley Dilemma.

And I’m trying to work on that.

Friends Happen.

Everyday, Ponderings

It always amazes me how one meets friends. Sometimes you know the instant you meet that you’ll be thick as thieves. Others times, you’re laughing milk out your noses together and you stop and you think, “I think we’re friends now.” Most times, it just happens. There’s no transition, no growth stage, no schedule. You’re friends and that’s all you need to know.

People say you can’t pick your friends and that’s only partly true. I’ve made a lot of new friends over the past six months. Some, I sought out. Others practically knocked down my door. I think that friendship is a desire to walk through life with someone. You don’t have to have everything in common. You don’t have to be from the same background. You don’t even have to like the same things. You must simply both have the shared desire to help each other grow into better people. And the willingness to get dragged through mud together. Thick, sticky, warm mud.

In the end, God made us to be in community with other people. And this was a lesson that was hard for me to learn. My nature is to hide up in my tower and close myself off to the world. Partly because I don’t like to be vulnerable, but mostly because it’s just easier to be alone. I used to think that I could do it all by myself. I had friends, of course, but I saw them as accessories, like something you were supposed to have. Now I know that they are something we, as humans, need.

Throughout my life, I’ve had friends come and go. There have been fights and misunderstandings and laughs and embarrassing homemade videos. Although some friendships ended in heartbreak and despair, I choose to believe that I’ve learned something from every one of them, whether that be about relationships in general or about myself. Really, I think friendships, true friendships, are God’s way of showing us glimpses of himself.

The Only One

Everyday, Ponderings

Let’s be honest. I’m a bit odd. And I say this without shame, because, well, I like who I am. And if who I am is “odd”, then I’m okay with that. But recently people have been telling me that I’m “strange”, “weird”, or “bizarre”. Again, I’m okay with this, and these statements were meant, I think, as some sort of term of endearment; however, I don’t really know why there has been a sudden surge of people telling me the obvious because I don’t think I’m doing anything different.

I’ve always been a staunch supporter of the “be yourself” camp. I actually made it my life goal as a child to never be “normal”. Growing up, the mere mention of the word “normal” would make me cringe. Since then, I’ve always associated the term with being average – and that’s something I never wanted to be. So I made a point to do my own thing, ignoring trends and fads and even a few important social cues. In true overachiever fashion, I think I’ve fulfilled and exceeded my own expectations. I’d like to say that it was hard, but honestly, it has probably been one of the easiest things I’ve ever done.

At first, in my quest for anti-normalcy, I think I did a lot of things that were silly, like avoid fashion trends or musicians I might actually have enjoyed merely because they were “in”. I wanted so badly to be “not normal” that I tried too hard to be what I already was (which, as I, and many others, have already established is “odd”). But slowly, I became comfortable expressing myself regardless of what was “in” or “out”, feeling confident in my own skin and becoming unwilling to compromise who I was or who I wanted to be.

So, who am I? I say what I want – often without providing context or explanation. I act goofy when I feel goofy and I act serious when I feel like being serious. I refuse to let social norms restrict me and often look ridiculous for doing so. I am awkward in almost all situations and I revel in them. I seek experiences that push me out of my comfort zone. I willingly sacrifice my own feelings, wants, and desires for the benefit and betterment of the common good. I value rationality, efficiency, and structure. I love being alone, but I force myself to be around people. I love being on stage, but I hate being the center of attention. I like doing dishes, taking standardized tests, conspiracy theories, and writing essays. I’m blunt, silly, off-putting, sincere, honest, clever, proud, stubborn, creative, and, for most of the general population, “weird”.

My whole life I’ve been “odd”, “strange”, “peculiar”, and any other synonym you can throw at me. It’s no secret. I’m pretty obviously different. But why, after almost 23 years, are people suddenly feeling the overwhelming urge to tell me so? Why is my life philosophy so foreign to people?

I can’t be the only one. Am I?