Fundamentally weird

There’s a spelling thing, a mnemonic, that says we should always remember to include the we in weird. That way we don’t slip up and spell it as wierd instead, which is a pretty weird spelling of weird, when you stop to think about it. I wonder if there is a mnemonic to remind one how to spell mnemonic?

I have never had any trouble with weird.  People think me weird. I accept that. For many years I believed that I was indeed weird. Everybody else seemed so different from me. Then I met Mr L and we live happily, and weirdly, together in our own weird little world.

The thing is, we are both introverts and have stumbled across that most wonderful of situations – mutual introverted companionship. We enjoy the peace of being alone together and also respect each others need for some 100% alone time. We do not suffer from one partner’s need to go out and socialise pulling against the other’s need to retreat from people. We “get” each other.

It took a while to learn that Introversion was all that it was. That I am not a lesser being because I don’t want to join in. That I lack nothing and am quite all right as I am. That all those punishments for being “ungracious” were unwarranted, that there was never anything wrong with hiding in a cupboard with a good book and not running around playing stupid party games. Oh, the agony of being forcibly pushed (literally – a hand in the back, propelling me forward into the horror) into group situations and being instructed to “enjoy myself” in a tone that would admit no other outcome!

There did remain a lingering notion of being a weird old misfit though. I mean, who else have I ever met who won’t answer a telephone? You have to admit that is plain old weird.

Then I fell across this info-graphic, one of a set of 17 brilliant depictions of aspects of introversion

That’s rather like me!

Well, it’s a recognisable symptom of introverted behaviour. I am not alone! Not that I mind being alone. Being alone is my favourite thing. Still, seeing it made me happy, though I have to question why anyone would choose to text. I mean, for heaven’s sake, “text” is not even a verb, it is a noun! I do loathe this trend of verbing the noun… I’ll stick with sending an old-fashioned email, if you don’t mind – but please wait until I have the mental reserves to answer you. It might take a while if there is other stuff going on in my life.

Remember this?

Perhaps not a total tale of introversion but it was one of my favourite songs at the time it was out. It spoke to me. It reminded me of my party years and all of the time that I spent in all those kitchens.

Can I go home yet? Really, a party is my worst nightmare.

I had some miserable teenage years, to be sure. I never understood why I was the only one not enjoying myself. The pain in my middle was very real – a knot of stress and anxiety.

This is key. As far as I am concerned I rarely reach that peak and go straight from “I’ll rally” to “Can I please leave”

Things have never really improved. I learned some coping mechanisms and even found a way to wear a mask of acceptability for that period when I thought it necessary to conform. Life is better now that I know that I don’t have to. It is okay to be me. I just wish that my younger years had not been so painful and, well… bleak.

There was one blissful period of my life, when I stumbled into a social circle of folks who all seemed to be a lot like me. In fact many of them were even more retiring and less well adapted. I met them on Usenet. Sometimes we gathered together in real life and, for want of a better term, partied for long weekends. You know what – it was fine. I even enjoyed myself and when I was found in the kitchen it was because it was my turn to wash up.

They were glorious times – when a (large) bunch of freaks, geeks and misfits got together and knew exactly how to leave the others alone. It was okay to come and go and recharge batteries alone and in peace. Everyone understood the implications of falling across somebody sitting under a tree, alone with a book. I loved being there and I enjoyed observing the dynamic. It felt good to be alive. It was the best fun I ever had.  It was almost effortless, in relative terms. (Snugglers, I miss you.)

It is no surprise, I think that I blog. Nor that my friends and my partner all came to me via the internet newsgroups…

Ain’t that the truth!

I have been pondering and wonder why we do not identify introverts in their early years at school and then give them some tools to understand themselves and mechanisms for coping. Letting them off some of the more painful school activities would be good too. A few of us might be less bullied, as misfits, if the extroverted pupil was educated in how to coexist with the loner. Perhaps my perspective is skewed by the parenting I had, bringing me up alongside a more normally sociable twin – I always disappointed and was always wrong. Maybe it was better for other introverts. Most of all it explains why I wished with all my heart to be an only child. (I have always felt that my sister wears me out. For much of my early life I blamed this on her and her constant inane chatter. I expected my ears to bleed. I have had to re-evaluate her as normal though and accept that it is I who cannot cope with others.)

If this introversion is an inherited trait, I got it from my father – normally to be found in the attic, the garden, the shed, on the river with his rod or out in a wood with his gun. He was a constant disappointment to my mother too. Sadly in those days fathers did little of the parenting but I wonder if we had been born 50 years later if things might have been different. If a more modern dad would have elected to stay home and bring us up whilst mum went out and did her social thing. Perhaps there might have been some understanding and support in that case. Perhaps a little less of the forced interaction and requirement to behave “properly”.

This is all a bit deep, isn’t it and you might be wondering what triggered such a strange post. I confess that I am struggling with a social situation that I do not know how to handle. Being deep in Garbo mode at present I want to reject a social overture but fear hurting and disappointing somebody who does not deserve  that. I just cannot find the reserves right now to face them. I do not want to be sociable. I don’t feel that I can be sociable just now. I just want to be left alone with my knitting.  I don’t know how to adequately explain that to them, so I explain it here to myself – to make me feel better, perhaps? Who knows. At least the graphics are good and ought to be shared –  so I hope you have enjoyed the entertainment value. If any of this weird rambling helps you to understand and to cope with the introverts in your family or social circle, my work has not been in vain.

And now, I shall crawl back into my shell.

All graphics by Anna Borges

 

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6 Comments

  1. jennifer ross
    January 7, 2016
    Reply

    Hi Beth. Just read todays blog. Is it me? If so no prob, I just wont disturb you. Lovd Jennifer

    • January 11, 2016
      Reply

      No, Jennifer, it’s not you. I am comfortable with knowing that I can always say “not today” to you and that you will understand. Please don’t get paranoid…

  2. spinninggill
    January 8, 2016
    Reply

    That’s one hell of a post – it makes me feel quite inadequate when I come to blogging.

  3. Fellow Introvert
    January 10, 2016
    Reply

    As a fellow introvert, your blog entry really struck a chord. As I read it I was thinking yip – I do that, and that and that! It is only relatively recently that I have realised that that is what I am (apart from the odd occasions when I’m not!). Until then I believed there was something “deficient” about me and has caused me no end of grief over the years. Anyway I just wanted to say thanks for writing this as I believe there is still a fair degree of stigmatisation about introversion and the more it is mentioned the better as a) we start realising there are more of us out there (by definition we’re not a vociferous group!) and b) people realise that it’s just another version of the whole spectrum of normal out there.

    • January 11, 2016
      Reply

      Thank you for your kind comments. I know exactly what you mean and it has taken me a lifetime to reach the stage of being more or less comfortable with what I always termed being “anti social” (and understand now that is not what it is at all!) The real thanks go to the originator of the Buzz Feed article, I believe. It helped me – especially to understand that the telephone thing is Not Just Me. More importantly I am truly beginning to absorb and understand the implications (for me) of pushing myself to go amongst others and why I come home feeling as though I spent the day at the coal face with a hefty pickaxe, shifting a ton of coal.

      I have also managed to put together the pieces and understand why I feel so much anxiety about having visitors in my home. Not just that it is my place of quiet regeneration but also there is no escape route – one cannot simply show folks the door when energy levels sap, it would not be civilised!

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