Monday, April 29, 2013

Hermits of the World, Unite!

“What’s My Line?”

While I dearly love meaningful conversations, I don’t do chitchat all that well. I only have a small group of people with whom I share a close and meaningful relationship: these are the only people I call “friends.”  (Can you call two people a “group”? These would be those two guys over there: Wave for me!) I prefer working alone, especially when needing to be creative. I think much of what passes for teamwork today is demonstrably a waste of time and oxygen. Large groups of strangers drain me faster than a vampire can say, “Let’s eat!” I recharge my batteries best in solitude. Reflection energies me, interactions deplete me, unless they are with friends. I am quiet by nature, although my job sometimes requires that I talk. A lot. Those individuals, who assume that, because I am quiet, I am uninterested, amuse and sometimes irk me. I am primarily internally focused, being absorbed in thoughts of the life of the mind, soul, and spirit. While my emotions run deep and intense, I do not readily express them. And believe me, most everything you say, or leave unsaid, is going directly into my heart.

Who am I?

“Ew, ew, I know! Pick me!” Okay. “You’re a neurotic!” Uh, no.

Hello, my name is Monte Wilson, and I am an introvert. My challenge is that I live in a culture where extroverts are exalted as The Way You Must Be To Be Successful, or To Have An Impact On the World. Extroverts are The Norm by Which All Others Are Judged. And, of course, only extroverts can be Knights of the Round Table: all others are squires. Whether it is businesses, churches, or schools, our entire culture is organized around extroverts, so much so that you would think introverts didn’t even exist.

Come into my Bat Cave and lets talk about this.

Socrates preferred caves to people. Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein’s ideas have had a huge impact on the world, yes? Both were introverts. Blaise Pascal, William James, and Carl Jung: check, check, and check -- all introverts. Reading bios on Spielberg reveal that he is an introvert. Guess that’s why his art hasn’t had much of an impact on the world, eh? Susan B Anthony and Rosa Parks: introverts. What about the introverted President (Gen) Dwight Eisenhower: pretty decent impact on history, there. Ditto for Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln. And how about the self-professed introvert, Warren Buffet who lives in Nebraska? (Can you say, “Cave-ska”?) He often spends hours a day alone in an office behind closed doors. Wouldn’t you say that he’s had some influence here and there?

In her book, The Introvert Advantage, Marti Lani asserts that there are quite a number of strengths that comes with being an introvert. No. I’m not kidding. She really does. Introverts are great in one-on-one relationships, and maintain relationships over long periods of time. They are independent, creative, studious, great listeners and keen observers, and have no difficulty staying focused on a task without outward direction. They also have superior language skills, preferring writing to public speaking, of course. (Shock, there.) And they do all of this without chatting up all 100 people at last night’s party, or greeting every one they meet as if he were their best friend. Ever. This last line is mine, not Marti’s.

Come on, fellow Hermits. Stop measuring yourself by a standard not meant for you. Cease wasting all that energy on pretending you are an extrovert or judging yourself because you are not. Look at your temperament’s lineage: such great souls and profound accomplishments. Embrace and be grateful for how you were created! Relax: you are cool. Really.

By the way, that whole, “Hermit’s of the World, Unite!” thing: You do know that isn’t an invite to come party in my cave, don’t you?

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2013 

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