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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Oranges are not the only fruit


Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is a novel by Jeanette Winterson published in 1985, which she subsequently adapted into a three-part BBC television drama. It is a bildungsroman about a lesbian girl who grows up in an English Pentecostal community.

I plan to read the book, but in the meantime, I found the TV series on youtube, so I watched that first. It’s a great show, give it a watch if you have the time. On youtube it’s uploaded as 6 parts of about 7 minutes for each of the 3 episode. There’s a part missing though, so if you can access the video via other means, maybe you could try that too. For example, I’ve just realized that the esplanade library carries the video cassettes! …not sure how I would watch video cassettes though haha, maybe the esplanade has a multimedia room you can use. Nonetheless, the missing part didn’t make the show any less enjoyable to watch.

Some thoughts:

It made me think, once again, about how flexible the human mind is.
I mean, how easily we can twist words to mean what we want them to mean. How words can mean anything.  How easily we can delude ourselves, how easily we can truly believe what is not true. How easily we can think, with all our heart, that we’re doing the right thing.

Can you blame the mother in the show, as unpleasant as she is? Can you fault her for treating the main character, Jess, in that way? It may not be your idea of love (it may be, in fact, your idea of hate) but I do think she does love Jess, and every horrible thing she did, she thought it was for the best. No, she knew it was for the best.

This is how humans are. We can operate separate from the ‘truth’. It doesn’t matter so much what is out there as what we think is out there, how we perceive what is out there.

And that’s the problem I have with ‘faith’. Knowing how susceptible we are to such thinking, to being able to have unwavering belief in your own thoughts, positions and actions, shouldn’t we be guarding against such thinking rather than encouraging it? Guarding against ‘having faith’?

Because isn’t such type of thinking the essence of faith?

To have complete trust in something. To believe in god without evidence. To… just believe. Just have faith. With all your heart.

People are capable of being blind enough as it is. Don’t tie blindfolds over your eyes and tell me that’s a GOOD thing. The more blindfolds you tie, the more you trust without EVIDENCE or PROOF, the better and more PREFERABLE that is? Seriously?
—-
The show had me crying. Because the worst thing was… knowing that this isn’t merely fiction. Knowing that this isn’t merely history. Knowing that this isn’t merely abstract ideas, or something happening far away.

This is real. This is now. This is here. This is me, and those are my friends.

Please don’t pretend that the church’s position has ‘progressed’, that your position has progressed and is better and more reasonable than historical positions. Does it really matter what words you use? Whether you call it a ‘demon in you’ or an ‘illness’ or a  ‘disorder’ or a ‘result of the fallen world’ or an ‘abomination’ or even just simply a ‘sin’?

You change the words, but the final meaning is the same. The church’s idea of ‘progress’ is ‘accepting’ new evidence but without letting it change the bottom line. So you have to change your interpretation a little. That’s not a problem. As long as you keep the bottom line the same.

I don’t remember if I’ve said it out loud on this blog yet, but… my girlfriend of three years broke up with me–yes, you guessed it– for religious reasons. You could say this blog is born from that incident.

During that break-up period, she showed me two different cases from two different Christian books she was reading– about homosexuals having had demons successfully cast out of them.

…how do you think that makes me feel? To know that the person you love thinks that the only reason why you love her and why she loves you is because of a demon?

…so when we enjoyed each others’ company, simply sitting on a bench enjoying the breeze and talking; a demon at work?
…so when we celebrated anniversaries or valentine’s days, exchanging heartfelt gifts; a demon pulling the strings?
…when we went out for dinner; a demon ordering dessert?
…when we said ‘I love you’ countless times, cheered each other on through tests, exams and school work, listened to each others’ problems and worries… all through a demon’s mouth and ears?

I understand a little more now why people can be so cruel, why the mother in the show can behave so hard-heartedly towards her daughter. That’s not her daughter, it’s a demon. The devil’s limb, as she says.

How people could have burnt women at the stake: they’re not women, they’re witches. The cries you hear aren’t the cries of a women in pain, they are the cries of evil knowing it has lost the battle. When someone cries and screams while having a demon cast out, that’s the sound of the demon, in pain.

What does ‘demon’ even mean, anyway? The idea of ‘ALL GOOD’ and ‘ALL BAD’ is really an incoherent one to me. It can’t exist in more than the abstract. If this thing you call a ‘demon’ can feel pain, shouldn’t we have compassion for it too?

I can’t wait to read the book.