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.

Silence and Apathy


“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
-Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King

I really like this entry, Sword and Shield. Especially the first paragraph, which I identify with a lot.

“I was never one to worry. I was never one to be concerned. I didn’t even have goals, dreams or aspirations. I just went with the flow, happy to get by.”

That was me, too. I was carefree, pretty easy going (or you could say ‘apathetic’) about most things. Let bygones be bygones. There were Issues that I was concerned about and obvious ‘wrongs’ in the world that I wished would be righted, of course. But for most part I assumed the world would get on with it, that these wrongs would surely be righted in time, no excessive worrying needed on my part.

The one thing that riled me up was usually conservation issues, because as I learnt more from my classes, it became apparent how ignorant the majority of the population are to these issue, how completely blind they are to that fact that these things truly matter, that there weren’t lofty ideals but a life and death reality, of mankind, our planet and all living things.

It was very different for me for idealogical issues. Those I tended to shrug my shoulders and trot out the excuse of my ignorance.

Perhaps the worst were those issues I WAS sure about, but never thought to take a stand on. Because I assumed that the world and society would get along fine. That, however slowly, society was always marching in the direction of progress. You can’t rush these things, just wait.

Obviously as a gay person I have to know all about its taboo nature in society; I necessarily have to face, it if not everyday, then at least pretty often, right?

And yet somehow I still remained blind. I was frustrated by the inconveniences in my life, but not outraged by any injustice. I would happily go for the occasional LGBT-related event, but do little more then smile from the sidelines. I accepted it. I saw it as something that was merely social taboo, not the fault of any one or anything, but just convention. Just the way it’s always been. And a way that is changing, slowly but surely.

Most people my age have no problems at all with it, I thought. It mostly only the older generation who are more conservative, more set in their views and who have little contact of any kind with the LGBT world. All they know of them are the occasional stereotype falsehoods portrayed in the media. In other words, the problem will slowly but surely fade away as there is greater exposure and education regarding LGBT issues.

Recently, it has come as a great blow to me to realize– to really realize– that quite a few of my close friends do think it is an ‘abomination’, that I am an ‘abomination’. Not that I didn’t ‘know’ of their disapproval, I just never thought about it, and the full meaning of it never sunk in. To be honest, I just didn’t care.

I was ‘tolerant’ and ‘accepting’, I ‘respected’ other people’s beliefs. What they thought and believe is their business, as long as they’re not standing in my way. And despite my friends obviously breaking my stereotype of being ‘old, ignorant and uneducated’, I still viewed LGBT rights in the world as something inevitable that was coming soon, that there was nothing but out-dated thinking standing in the way, and mostly due to inertia.

When they tell me that…they’ve in fact never searched into this issue at all (despite holding their unwavering views about it), and despite having known me and my orientation for so many years… I feel like a failure. In all these years, I’ve never caused them to even wonder about or question their position.

I suppose that ends now. Silence and apathy can be as deadly as hate and ignorance. Social change only happens because people dare to ask for it. The least I can do is make sure that people in my circle have access and exposure to the other side of the coin, that I help to disseminate the voice of this social movement.