Thursday, June 19, 2014

Learn Yourself and Be Yourself

Society these days considers one narrow-minded set of personality traits as acceptable and considers the rest of us to be inferior.  I am of course speaking of the massive bias against introverts that we currently have to deal with.

I've known for a long time that I'm introverted.  When others were going out in groups on a whim to see movies together, I was at home reading (1984 and The Hitchhiker's Guide trilogy are some of my favorites), playing by myself (thanks, LEGO!), or just lying on my bed lost in thought.  When I do go out and do things with others, I'm more of a "okay, we're done now, let's not stick around and talk when we could be going somewhere else and doing something else" kind of person.

It wasn't until a few years ago that I actually developed the mental maturity to take a step back and look at my own life.  Considering its ups and downs, I realized how I'd been doing it wrong all these years.  I'd been drawn into the "system" and had been way too concerned with things like popularity and "being cool".

Once I took a look at things I realized some other things about myself.  For one, I don't get my daily energy until the early afternoon, and it carries me on into the next morning.  I can get up at 6 AM and, because I don't get my energy until 1 or 2 in the afternoon, I'll very easily still be awake at 5 AM the next day.  Maintaining a "normal" sleep schedule causes a lot of internal stress for me since I have to go to sleep when I'm feeling the most awake, and a weekend of getting a lot of sleep and not doing very much while awake isn't enough to recover from that stress.

Through my observations, I realized how ridiculously easy it is to adjust one's own sleep schedule to suit your needs.  It's nowhere near scientific levels of verification, but I used my theory that I adapted from my observations of myself to help my mom.  She works at a bookstore, and needed to adjust sleep for the midnight release of a Harry Potter novel and still be able to get up at her normal time.  She followed my suggestions, and it worked.  I'd type it up, but I'm incapable of bullshitting to the level necessary to write a 150 page single-spaced 12pt Times New Roman thesis on the subject when all the details at their most concise level take up a maximum of two pages.  Also, to be honest, it's so ridiculously simple that anyone could come up with it, so an overly wordy explanation of it is probably already out there somewhere.

I also very quickly diagnosed myself with social anxiety disorder.  Looking at the symptoms thereof while reflecting on my life as a whole, social anxiety disorder very easily and simply explains pretty much everything, and the engineer in me likes that.

The worst part of having adjusted my life to better suit who I am is that nobody else seems to understand.  My mom acts like I'm at fault when I complain that my sleep was interrupted while the sun was up.  Let me wake you up while you're trying to sleep and we'll see how much you like it.  The time of day doesn't matter, people shouldn't be making lots of noise anyway.  My dad "helps" me look for employment by yelling "GET A JOB" at me.  It's basically the equivalent of someone playing an online game and yelling "YOU SUCK" at a newer player and expecting that to magically make them get better at the game.  He sees every single thing I tell him about who I am as an excuse to not be "normal" rather than a rationale for the abolition of the idea of "normal".  I even had to explain to him what Impostor Syndrome was, because I get it constantly and he thought it was "another excuse" that I was "making up".

Last night I was randomly searching things related to introversion and employment when I happened across this TED talk, which is very good at explaining exactly why introversion isn't bad and why society needs introverts.  The speaker has also written a book which has received some critical acclaim.  What we need is more people understanding what introversion really is.  There's so much misinformation out there regarding it.  We're not aloof, we're not loners, and we don't hate social interactions.  We just value our alone time.  Also worth noting is that with the internet facilitating communications, we can be social while simultaneously having our alone time.

So why is this titled "Learn Yourself and Be Yourself"?  Because I feel that as a society, we all need to collectively take a step back and observe our own lives.  Only once we understand who we truly are can we be truly happy.  Disclaimer: I have zero college degrees in anything.

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