Welcome to The Reflectionist, a daily dose of reflection on the nature of the self, personal reality, creativity, life and work, submitted to the public record for posterity. Read personal essays and articles on the psychology of creativity to help you nurture and broaden your creative prowess.
My name is Larry, and I am an introvert. I?ve been introverted for as long as I can remember. I am introspective, content in solitude, comfortable in my own skin, standing quietly on the periphery of the madness (occasionally taking part). Maybe it?s a protection mechanism, but then if it is, it is as much a protection mechanism as an extrovert?s need to be in the spotlight.
Introverted people perhaps show a deeper level of personal security and solidity than extroverted people. In what I see as a fickle world full of people with short term relationship goals, introverts can perhaps find peace alone. Extroverts seek fulfilment and purpose in the exterior world; introverts look inward.
Now, not every inward-looking person fits this stereotype, of course not. We differ to varying degrees of the multitude of aspects of personality that we can say exists. We are multifaceted, complex and comprise a blend of so many things. Each of us is unique, valid and necessary for the bringing about of this diverse world.
?I?ll read my books and I?ll drink coffee and I?ll listen to music, and I?ll bolt the door.? ? J.D. Salinger
That being said, I?m not writing this to find a middle ground and appease the multitude. I am writing this for posterity, to explain to those closest to me and those who come after me, what I am, or was, depending on when you read this.
Freud says we can trace the reason for compulsive behaviours, neurosis and dysfunction, and indeed regular commoner personality back to childhood, to an incident that sparked things off. I buy into that. There is a nurturing aspect to why I am the way I am, but I also believe there is a natural aspect. Beyond the personality that I seem to be, there feels like something is underlying. A more profound sense of self that I feel. At nighttime, when I am alone, I can especially feel it. It?s whole, and it?s perfect, and it is what I am.
I reject the neuroscientific account of this experience as merely an epiphenomenon of the brain, and I reject the reductionist model of reality that says the universe is simply 1?s and 0?s. Not least because these ideas are the product of brains studying brains, they are a convenient oversimplification of life by those who are ruled solely by forebrain logic. I reject these ideas because I am a sentient being equipped with feeling, insight, creativity, and self-awareness capable of self-contemplation. Reductionists don?t have a bog?s notion of how that comes about. The bottom line is that the idea of a materialistic reductionist universe falls short in the face of quantum reality. That means all the stuff we call stuff has no underlying support.
A Separate argument perhaps so I will leave that there.
Whatever influences aided in the construction of my surface-level personality, there were many, and are complete. Complete, and cannot be revisited. In other words, I am what I am. So to reflect with regret, anger, or self-remorse for the childhood I should have had, is useless and counterproductive to the continued formation of whatever I am. Momentum may (will absolutely) play a role in what I may become, but the past?s influence will be minimal. Momentum happens now, and I come out of that.
The quiet of the kitchen at night is my favourite place. When everyone is gone to bed, I am more myself than I am at any other time. I guess that?s most disturbing for most extroverts. Because to be alone with their thoughts, with no one else upon whom to reflect, there is a cavernous void of the self. There is nothing to hold on to, darkness, and a vacancy, little that can be called existence. In the absence of that thing, I call ?myself? there is nothing. This is a fate worse than death for the extrovert, for anyone who is worldly bound. For the introvert, for this introvert, there is everything that the world of things and people cannot provide.
People are wonderful, especially those closest to me. But even with them, I am not myself. I cannot be because I am diluted, or maybe it?s enhanced, I can?t always tell. I must be a composite of whatever they are and whatever I am. Where there is more than one, there can be deeper alignment with a stereotype, as with a group, or there can be a further disconnection. Regardless, I become less, but yet in another way, I become more. Different is perhaps a better word.
?I guess Im too used to sitting in a small room and making words do a few things. I see enough of humanity at the racetracks, the supermarkets, gas stations, freeways, cafes, etc. This cant be helped. But I feel like kicking myself in the ass when I go to gatherings, even if the drinks are free. It never works for me. Ive got enough clay to play with. People empty me. I have to get away to refill. Im whats best for me, sitting here slouched, smoking a beedie and watching this screen flash the words?
? Charles Bukowski
When I was a kid, I enjoyed spending time on my own drawing and making stuff. Later, as a teenager I?d spend hours sitting with my back against the headboard of my bed staring out the window, thinking about girls I liked, smoking cigarettes and listening to music. I did the usual kid stuff too, like playing ball on the road with other kids, exploring places we shouldn?t and that kind of thing. But it was the nature of my home environment that encouraged me to seek contentment in my own company. There was a time when I resented that upbringing, but these days as I examine the world around me, I am grateful for that series of experiences.
Introversion has its disadvantages, such as the lack of people in your vicinity when you need them. But on the whole, I see it as an aspect of personality that offers a distinct advantage over my extroverted counterparts. I can work alone and be content. I can dig deep and get difficult things done without seeking support. As such, introverts can become self-reliant. I can sustain severe conditions longer than most. I don?t need applause or recognition, although it?s nice when it comes. Praise is not a precondition to whether or not I undertake a thing, but I?ll take it, reluctantly I might add, when it happens.
Oh, now, it seems that is just a little contradictory. I?m reminded of Freud?s coy comment in the book, Interpretation of Dreams regarding the absence of a surely deserved university appointment;
?I am not, as far as I know, ambitious; I pursue my medical practice with gratifying success, even without the recommendation of a title. Besides, it was not a question of calling the garpes sweet or sour, for undoubtedly, they hung too high for me.?
Why am I writing this? Should I kid myself by suggesting that I don?t care if it?s not read or receives comments? Why else would I write and publish anything if it was not for a response? I might be predominantly introverted, but in that, I must honour my integrity and confess that the above is not entirely valid. In other words, you could argue that I am, like all introverted people, ultimately craving acceptance by someone. As I examine this, it seems it?s true, but only to the extent that I seek a relationship for the sake of interaction, not for the fulfilment or affirmation of self. I, like many introverts, are already predominantly formed. The world of people is beautiful, energising (or depleting), enjoyable, but unnecessary in many respects.
For the benefit of those who feel I should be less anti-social, accommodating, interactive, apologetic or tolerant, here is what I am, as accurately as I can put it. Take it or leave it.
- I enjoy my own company; others are not necessary.
- I stay up late.
- I?ll rise early but only because I have committed to someone.
- I?ll dig deep.
- I?ll go long.
- I am introspective.
- I dislike crowds, a lot ? they?re really stupid.
- I like one-to-one conversations but not idle talk or gossip.
- I have little time for pretence.
- In unfamiliar territory, I?ll stay on the edge and observe.
- I?m slow to get to know you. Some people interpret that as rudeness, that I am unapproachable.
- I?ll take the hits.
- I work well in a team (believe it or not).
- I am incredibly impatient with people who are not up to speed with me.
- I like detail, and if you don?t, we won?t get on.
- I like to write.
- I think about the nature of my existence all the time.
- I am sensitive to people. I can feel you even if you can?t feel yourself (spooky).
- I regard most people as crazy. They suffer from functional dysfunction.
- I don?t cry easily.
- I marvel at the complexity of the world.
- I couldn?t stand the rat race, so I left.
- I can work for days in solitude.
- I have a very high standard even though I realise I?ll hardly ever reach it.
- I?m a realist perfectionist.
- I?m a fan of the unpopular.
- I dislike trends.
- I get uptight and ratty when I?m working and interrupted.
- I do not have a broad span of attention, i.e. for multitasking.
- I am deeply interested in how we got here and where we are going (very poorly phrased statement but you get the picture).
- I am resolute. I know I?ll never find the answers, but I?ll keep looking.
That?s all I?ve got.
Thanks for taking the time to read my stuff. Every morning you?ll find me sharing a new thought on life, art, work, creativity, the self and the nature of reality on The Reflectionist. I write also on The Creative Mind. If you like what I?m creating, join my email list to receive the weekly Sunday Letters
You?ll also find me here
My Site Twitter The Larb Podcast