Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Danger, Will Robinson, Approaching Social Interaction Limit!

In my wild and crazy college days, I made a concerted effort to change my personality. Nerdy little introvert – out. Wacky extrovert – in. It wasn’t the most successful project and when I got to law school, nerdy little introvert moved back in, set up shop and has not taken so much as a vacation ever since.

I’ve come to accept my introversion. Society would have you believe that if you are not a social butterfly with thousands of adoring fans – I mean friends – then you have either a desperate character flaw (shame on you) or an unfortunate mental disorder (shame on your brain chemistry – have some Paxil). But I’m pretty happy with my current life and introverted arrangement.

I have a seriously wonderful husband and a sometimes exasperating but always loving family (of both the blood and law varieties). I have a handful of close confidantes, a good-sized circle of acquaintances, and a camogie team. I have a rich imagination and a hobby that requires loads of thought and solitude. The only person I can spend all my time with is Peter and that’s only because after ten years, we’ve perfected the art of being alone while being together.

Taking this contract job has made me realise that I have a set number of social interactions in me. If I have to talk to a lot of people at work, my need to be alone when I get home is a physical ache, every bit as nagging and important as hunger or thirst. I would gnaw my own arm off for a few hours of blissful seclusion.

In the morning, I am particularly bad, although not because I’m against mornings or consciousness or waking up, but because I want to set the right tone for the day, conserve my interactions for later and use the height of my brainpower on things that are important to me. I’m a selfish morning person – I want that to be my time. If I had an Invisibility Cloak like Harry Pottery, I would use it to ensure that my two cups of coffee and morning reading/writing always went without interruption.

I wish I had a meter on my forehead to let people know when I am getting close to my limit. Like the one on my Hotmail inbox. (Speaking of which, email counts as social interaction for me, so that’s why no one’s heard from me for nearly a month. If I owe you one, now you know why.) If I had a meter, then when Peter gets frustrated because he has to go to another social function on his own, I would have physical proof that I really couldn’t attend. Sorry, honey, I’m at my social interaction limit. You don’t want me to have a meltdown at the canapé table, do you?

I’ve fallen into wearing my headphones nearly all of the time. Peter says I’m in danger of turning into a kid from an 80s sitcom, the sort who is always bopping along to his own soundtrack. I don’t think I’m quite that bad – I try to maintain at least partial awareness of my surroundings. I’m just comfortable with the illusions of separateness and disconnection that the headphones provide.

I don’t hate people. I enjoy intelligent conversations and without some of my friends, I don’t know how I would have gotten through certain parts of my life. It’s just that I need time by myself. As we say in the software industry, it’s not a bug, it’s a feature.


At 16 November 2005 at 14:12, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

It all makes sense to me.

At 21 November 2005 at 11:32, Blogger Lyss said...

My old boss told me that I should work on my attitude in the mornings. (But that I was great teh rest of teh day). I told him that, unlike him, I was not a mornign person.
And it's not that i was particularly unpleasant, just quieter than I was the rest of teh day.
Not sure how all this impact my job now since I have to be here at 5AM. My body clock is not doing so well.


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