The Freedom of Structure

Everyday, Ponderings

I’m a structure person. Always have been. But recently I’ve noticed that most of my peers are most definitely not. They hate the idea of having structure because it seems more like “restrictions”. They don’t want to adhere to a certain set of rules or a specific schedule. They hate the idea of being tied down, having limited options, being “forced” to do something. Spontaneity is seen as freeing, open-minded, non-commital. You’re more “chill” if you just go with the flow, while structured people are just uptight and rigid.

I agree that too much “structure” can be, well, too much. When I was younger I had crippling anxiety in part because I wanted complete control over the structure of my life. Turns out that just can’t happen. I let my love of structure limit me. Later, during a performance review in college, I was told that I needed to learn to “plan to be spontaneous.” At first this irritated me, but in classic Haley fashion I decided to try. I started training myself to be flexible, to work within a frame that allowed for more movement.

Today, I see freedom in structure. Now that I’ve begun to give up my need for control, I have recognized that spontaneity isn’t always stifled by schedule, but can actually benefit from it. Just as an artist is free to create after mastering the set standards of line, color, and space, or an actor can improvise within the set rules of a particular scene, I find that structure provides a foundation from which to be spontaneous.

In the end, I think we all need to find a balance between the two, which might look different for different people. The main thing is to give yourself a sturdy foundation, something you can tether yourself to, and then trust it enough to take a leap. So that’s what I’m trying to do.

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).

image

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.

image_3

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.

image_1

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.

 

 

 

 

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:

image

image

image_1

image

 

Photo Sep 19, 9 00 38 AM

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.

Notes From My iPhone

Everyday

Below is the text from a note I recently wrote on my iPhone. It reads exactly as I wrote it. I have not edited anything:

Why do we feel uncomfortable being alone? In a movie theater. At a concert. At church. I like being alone. I’m an introvert. And yet, I find myself at this very moment at a concert by myself and I feel so awkward like everyone is staring at me because I’m here by my lonesome. I feel so awkward that I’m writing this as an excuse to look like I have something very important to do. I’m a very important person, you know. I have tons of people who know me. They wanted to come so badly but something came up last minute…

There’s nothing wrong with being alone. It’s just that we are raised in a society that points at the person by themselves and screams “look! The freak! The social recluse! They must have poor social skills or BO.”

It’s ok to be alone. We need to let people know that more often. We as people need to be alone more often. And I need to get off my cellphone and be okay with it.