Introspection on introversion


They say that introverts have their energy sapped by social interaction and recharge with time spent alone.

It’s strange– there’s both a sense of ‘taking in’ lots of outside stimulus, and a sense of ‘putting out’ a lot of attention. I guess they amount to the same thing; in order to take in all the external stimulus, you have to give them a lot of attention.

It feels like I’m a sponge– it’s very easy to be passive and just soak in all the information, everything that is happening around. It’s much harder to ‘give out’ anything– to say or show or express. Hard to get stuff from inside to the external. Whereas for other people it happens effortlessly– every time they speak they show a little of their personality, a little of themselves. Some don’t even have to speak.

It feels like I’m a mirror– I try to reflect back what I see, what I ‘took in’. Playable catgut, pliable clay. Chameleon boy. A friend said, recently: I’m water, I take the shape of the container.

When I have all my attention on you – general you, plural you– I feel like I’m not in my own head. All my focus is on you, on you, on you. Trying to empathise, understand, see what you see, put myself in your shoes, on alert for any cues and clues for me to take in, wondering what you’re wondering, wondering how I appear to you. All that attention expanded is exhausting. What’s more, while that’s happening, there’s no one left in my head to think my thoughts. It’s hard to be me– when you ask me what I think, I think first about the answer from your point of view, and try to modulate. Of course, everyone does this to an extent (you’d describe your faith differently to a non-believer vs a believer; you’d talk about gay rights differently to a homophobe vs an activist) but is the difference normally so stark?

Things happen fast in the real world– there’s no time to think, to contemplate, to ponder, to ruminate. You just react. React. React.

When you don’t think– or when I don’t think– there’s no ‘I’. There’s no me thinking about what I’m thinking and why I’m thinking. There’s no metacognition. The me that is usually here talking to myself in my head doesn’t have time to be activated. It’s just… react, react, react. That… feels less like me.

It’s only when the activity stops, and I’m alone again, do I then feel like I’ve finally come back home, into my head, and I can think about the day and what has happened. Like the gears and thoughts and ‘me’ that have been on hold all day to concentrate on you, you, you can start moving again. Like you went out into the field to collect data — react, react, react– and now, with the day’s spoils in hand, you return, tired out, to your lab– your home ground, your headquarters– to examine and make sense of all the new data you now possess.

Which parts are acceptable and which parts should I aim to change? It can’t be good to be a chameleon boy, it can’t be good to be morning pipe smoke, playable catgut, pliable clay.

Of course, everything’s an exaggeration to an extent. Everyone has their own opinions, even if that opinion is pretty apathetic and easily influenced….

No. I’ve been moving away from that. There are things I feel strongly about, and I’m sure of those views. I won’t compromise on those and I will disagree with you.

But standing firm in your own head, on your own blog is so different from projecting your convictions in real life. If you attack, I’ll fight back but why remain lifeless unless provoked?

A never ending journey. I’m game. Next step.

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