Extroverted Confinement
Joe Clark ~~ Dec 24, 2004

"Sometimes I get so weird, I even freak myself out."
-- Avril Lavigne, "Anything But Ordinary"

I'm so weird. I wonder...it used to often be the case that I thought I understood myself, and I was trying to figure out other people, and God, and the world. But at least for this topic, it's really more about not understanding myself. Maybe that's a good thing, if it's true that my never-ending searches are turning inward instead of always finding fault with people around me. (But I dunno, there's still a good share of interpersonal issue here...).

Anyway, I've noticed lately (and previously too, see my "Tier 2" wise thought from two years ago) that I am all right at meeting people, but I don't usually develop a strong bond with people. So I can bring people into the groups I have met people in, and those new people will quickly surpass me in my "friendedness" in such groups. What is that anyway? Officially I'm not supposed to care (who am I to judge or compare?), so officially I don't (freedom from desire still has its work to do in me sometimes). But unofficially it is annoying when I work ("work") at making friends, and then for other people it seems so easy, even with the exact same friend-people. I make happy okay "can you fix my computer" friends, they make what appear to be really great sappy "you are so special" friends (maybe I read too much into things). Whatever, I don't get it, it bothers me, and I'm a whiner because of it right?

Now, I'm going to point the finger at myself for a while. This is why I put "work" in quotes in the previous paragraph. Maybe the reason I don't reach Tier 2 is that I don't try hard enough. Sure I am busier than some and so don't always have as much time to do social stuff and all, but that's not always the whole reason. Sometimes I realize that the extroversion of many is just a trap for me. I mean, I can feel extroverted, and act extroverted, and act all silly and junk, but if I were to grow up and be "mature" I think I would revert to a state of appx. 70% introversion. And I'm not so sure that people know how to react to that. They may say "that's fine" but really they mean, "too bad, loser who doesn't want to hang out with us" or they mean, "fine, have it your way, bye" -- I guess maybe that's the same attitude.

What really makes me mad is that I want it both ways. I want to have friends, and I want to *feel* like they're my friends, and not just people around me. I want to be extroverted if that's what it takes to feel like my friends are my friends and not just people waiting to pass me up for someone else. But I also *don't* want to be an extrovert if it's not natural for me. I don't want to exert a bunch of energy on something that's not my style (legitimately, not just if I'm lazy). I don't want to always have to be whining about spending extra time driving across town to be social. And, if I am an introvert, I really value my "solitude" (eg, I wanna waste my time in whatever way I see fit). Sometimes I like social stuff. Sometimes I like doing stuff with people. Sometimes I can't wait for a meeting or an event to happen. But I finally have to admit that I like leaving big groups, I like dropping people off at home so I can play what I want to on the radio, I like a night by myself, I like sitting here thinking, or sitting here wasting time, or whatever. So I'm not always a people person. Oops.

But if I carry that to the logical conclusion, I shouldn't care too much what people do while I'm off being solitudinous right? But obviously I do care. Again, I wanna have it both ways. I want to spend time with people, at least I do on my terms. I don't even know what my terms are for sure, but I think my terms are more "purpose-driven", more goal-oriented, more <bad explanation> "outdoorsy" than what other people are interested in. There are certain things I like to do, with or without other people, and certain things I really don't wanna do, with or without people. Maybe a problem is that the bigger the group, the more opinions there are on what to do, and so the less frequently I get to have real input on what happens. The only example I can think of along those lines is movies. So there are some movies I like, and some I don't. But if I go with a group, will they watch a movie I like? Maybe, or maybe not. I have my voice, but it's easy to get overruled. So I can watch a boring movie, or I can go be solitudinous again. Usually I suppose I'll watch the boring movie, but really I might find my time more enjoyable to just do something by myself. Weirdo introvert. But then, reverse it again: If I were to go do something by myself, I would still be mad that I wasn't sharing in the movie with the other people (the people watching the movie would surely be beating me to Tier 2 -- right?). Some people just cannot be pleased sometimes.

This topic has a lot to do with my "hanging out" wise thought previously. I've done a lot of hanging out this fall. I've met new people. It's been cool. It's been fun. For the most part. I guess. Kinda. And yet I'm still here complaining about it. How stupid is that? On the surface, the reason I'm complaining is that I've felt like I've been pulled (by half of me) to do things that I really don't wanna do. Like what? Like staying out crazy late just "hanging out." This is a very specific definition. Staying late at restaurants doesn't count. Staying late for good discussion doesn't count. Staying late for movies doesn't count. Staying late for stargazing doesn't count. So what in the world does count? "Pure" hanging out, if that makes any sense. If I'm sitting on someone's floor, not really contributing to anything, maybe paying more attention to the dog than to anything else around me, and it's 2am, and I have to work at 8am, and the conversation is on some boring topic I don't care about -- that is the annoying time of hanging out. That's when I should call it a night and go home. And eventually I do, but not always as early as maybe I should.

Anyway, this wise thought is supposed to be about my thoughts, not about situations. What is it that makes me annoyed when someone calls me and interrupts my four hours of time to myself? According to my whining wise thoughts, I should be glad for the call. It depends on who's calling, but still, anymore the number of people who produce happiness rather than just "okay"ness or "let the voice mail answer it"ness is decreasing I think. What it makes me think is that I'm getting more selfish. Stupid me. I choose to tie this in with the theory that if I lose my youthful idealism I will retreat into my introverted shell and be boring and of little use to myself or God or anyone else. I cling to this thing called "youthful idealism" (which in a better phrasing is probably the same as "hope") not quite sure what it is, but seeing that it is at the moment very important to me. Maybe I'll change one day, but how can I be anything but "freaked out" if my thoughts ever turn away from what seems to give the most legitimate "hope"?

If my thoughts do lead me away from "youthful idealism," then that brings up another issue. What if by some chance my personality leads me farther away from enjoying large groups? What if I get more and not less introverted? Not to the point of dysfunction, I assume, but more than I am now. Well, the kinds of thoughts that say, "Leave me alone and let me play with my fluorescent light bulbs in peace" is, when you cut out all the garbage, a lot less eternally beneficial than to say, "Sure, I'll go eat at IHOP with you and 15 other people and talk about life or something." If I retreat into myself and my little pet projects (of which there are many), I will bore myself, let alone everyone else. I will be doing what I think I want, but it won't bring the satisfaction that being with other people will. Because in spite of my introvertedness and junk, I still say that community building is my passion, or at least the closest thing for me that has any lasting value at all. So here I have this thing I like to think is my passion, but my attitudes don't always support it.

There are alternative possibilities in this topic too. Maybe the amount of sleep I get plays a bigger role than I realize. Maybe if I got more than 5-6 hrs on average I would be more settled. Maybe if I really didn't waste so much time doing stupid stuff (stupid = stuff I don't need to do, doesn't really benefit much, and in the end doesn't even hold my attention or captivate my creativity very much) -- maybe then I'd have more time to think about useful stuff.

Another thought is that maybe I don't really hang out with my peers. Or put more nicely, maybe the people I hang out with don't talk peerly with me. What I mean is that maybe, like I always say, I'm searching for the beyond and they're searching for the next shootemup movie or the next fun time of random hanging out. This possibility is made more probable by the observation that I really like IM conversations, because I can at least say what I wanna say (whether the other party responds or not is a different matter). So, "going beyond" takes effort and focus, and who has that? Who is even searching for that? Maybe just maybe I surround myself with those who aren't searching for that, at least not on the surface, which is where this random hanging out happens. I know, I'm being harsh, and I don't really mean to be. If I seem to be calling people "shallow" what I mean is that the situations are shallow situations; I have this strong suspicion that most people have a non-shallow side, whether they show it or not. The problem is it seems that they don't show it, and don't have any real inspiration to show it, which just makes me think that I could have a not-very-inspiring conversation with a cool person, or I could go install fluorescent light bulbs, and probably enjoy both about the same. That makes me sound so evil. It makes it sound like I'm not really there to be with people, but just to philosophize or theologize about some great inspirational topic or something. I dunno...I wanna be more than just an engineer, and more than just an encyclopedia or Bible quiz book, because there's more to life than those. But I want to do more than watch shootemup movies all the time too and do more than watch other people have what I think are better friendships than I do. I want to *live* and live with my heart, and want people to take that journey with me, and I'm not sure there are many people at the moment who really "get" that, and even less who get it and express it the same way I do.

Blah blah blah. Maybe I should stop writing and just sit here and absorb the nature music. Yeah I think I'll do that. And try to develop a proper Christmas attitude while I'm at it. Reach for the beyond, for the eternal perspective, to feel something in my heart, and all that good stuff. It'll do me good. So that's all for me now on this topic. Maybe if I get it all figured out I'll report back. :-) Haha, I'll be back before then I'm sure, because who ever has this stuff all figured out?