The ZenHusband and I take turns picking up the 5-year-old Minion from kindergarten. The other day, we were comparing notes and an interesting fact came up:
He has had several complete conversations with many of the other kindergarten parents waiting to pick up their kids.
I've never said so much as a word to any one of them.
That pretty much sums up one of the biggest differences between me and my husband:
He is an extrovert - a bonhomie for whom it is easy and natural to strike up a conversation with darn-near anyone.
And I am the introvert - I'm borderline anti-social when it comes to meeting new people. "Socializing" does not come naturally to me; and most social gatherings are just varying degrees of uncomfortable for me.
So much so that strangers and casual acquaintances have described me as unfriendly and even snobby. I don't think that's accurate. I like to think I'm actually quite a nice person, when you get to know me. :)
But I understand why I come off that way - I don't make it at all easy for people to know me.
Let me clarify here: I'm not shy. I'm introverted - two different things. "Shy" describes someone who avoids social interaction because of nervousness. Shy people want to interact, but they are anxious about it. Introverts are not nervous about social interaction - they just don't enjoy it.
In other words: A shy person is lonely. An introvert is just alone.
For me, there are some exceptions: With friends and close family, I can be very friendly and talkative - it can sometimes be hard to shut me up! At work, I'm never slow to speak up - in fact, formal and informal communication with all kinds of people is a key element of my job. A job that I happen to be pretty good at.
And yet, I'm the last person in the world who would strike up a casual conversation with a stranger. In fact, I'm more likely to be the person striding purposefully, headphones in my ears, avoiding eye contact with passersby.
Random chit-chat with strangers? Casual communication without purpose?
Meh. I'll pass.
I just don't have the inclination for "small talk" - it doesn't interest me. It feels forced and uncomfortable. It drains me. I'd really rather not do it.
That's where the (mis?)perception that I'm a snob comes from, I know. But it's true: If I'm not really motivated to get to know you for some reason, I'm not going to waste my time and energy - or yours - with idle conversation.
And then there's the internet ...
Where I bare my thoughts and ideas and opinions on a regular basis; where I engage perfect strangers in blog comments; where I strike up up random conversations on Twitter; where I trade jokes with Facebook friends.
For an anti-social person, I'm curiously entrenched in social media.
If you only "know" me online, I'd be curious to hear what your perception of my "socialness" is. Because I find it a lot more enjoyable to "talk" to people online than I do in person.
And I'm not sure why that is.
Why is it relatively easily for me to communicate with people online and yet I find personal engagement so uncomfortable? How can I have developed such strong bonds though a computer (and, yes, a few of my online friends have become very good IRL friends, too) ... and yet feel so completely removed from people I see every week - like the parents at my son's school?
Yeah, yeah, I know: It's not an unusual phenomenon. I gather there are many people like me - more comfortable conversing through a computer than face-to-face. There's probably even a name (and maybe even a pill, considering the state of things today) for it.
But, hey, this is my blog, I can naval-gaze if I want to. ;)
Whatever it is, I don't see it changing anytime soon. It seems like the older I get the less inclined I am to stretch outside my comfort zone and make the effort - and yes, for me it takes a great deal of effort - to "socialize" with new people.
And, you know, I'm really okay with that. As much as I love my darling, extroverted husband, I'm just not interested in sliding over to meet him on the extroversion-introversion scale - I'm not broken. I don't need fixing.
Yes, I'm probably missing out on some interesting people in real life because of my (anti-)social quirks. But I'm pretty happy where I am - even if it is mostly in my own head.
So, I'll leave the socializing to The ZenHusband and he can leave the blogging to me. Maybe eventually he can introduce me to the other kindergarten moms.
What about you? Are you more introverted or extroverted? Is it easier for you to talk to people online then in person? Or am I just a weirdo? :)
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