Friday, October 18, 2013

The Introvert vs The Extravert.

Most people who know especially those who knew me best when I was younger are surprised by my difficulties with social interaction.  It's not just because I love to be on stage but often when in a large group I have grabbed attention with wisecracks and antics.

Since introversion and extraversion  are often seen as either one or the other that makes sense.  But I'm not sure that it IS one or the other.

Every person has at least some desire to be loved, to fit in, and to relate to other people.  It's part of the human experience.  We search for much of our lives to find a companion, to have a family and to be a part of something beyond ourselves.

Every person also desires some solitude.  Some write.  Some listen to music.  Some Read the paper.  Some sit there and watch sports or a television alone.

Despite my desire to be alone I also always wanted to fit in, I had a strong desire to please, and was worried when I made a mistake in manners.  In order to overcome that I formed a personality that tried to grab attention, but I also waited in any situation to see what was acceptable.  When eating in a new place I hesitated to eat until I saw what the rules were.  In a large group I waited to see how the social structure worked.  Each time I altered my behavior to mimic and exaggerate my perception of the group structure.  Sometimes I failed and made mistakes and I would have to wait even longer to reintegrate into the group.  Sometimes I caught on fast and would get on a roll, often becoming a caricature of the group dynamic itself.  But it was always fueled by that innate desire to fit in.

You see it's not the introvert who has trouble with other people.  It's the extravert.  The older I've gotten the more I realize you can't please everyone, the more that trying to please everyone becomes a struggle.  The extravert can't adapt as quickly and more and more I find myself choosing to be alone because I'm afraid of making a social faux pas.

That's why I seemed to feel at home in a choir on stage.  I have a clear direction of what I'm supposed to do.  I have music to learn and memorize and I have a director to follow.  The chance of mistake drops and I have a whole choir of people working on the same goal.  I can be the extravert in a choir because I'm only afraid of mistake based on my own abilities to thrive in a musical setting.

I'm still not sure how to relate that to fixing my social issues, but I think part of the solution to my problems is somewhere in that insight.

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