What Do You Want to Do With That?

In honor of heading back to school next week (senior year, which I am more than ready to be done with–but I’ll save that for a different post) I thought I’d address the age-old question directed those who dedicate their college years to studying literature, language, and composition (i.e. English majors). Or anyone pursuing a “liberal arts” degree, really.

It’s funny. I think when I first revealed that I intended to study English in college no one really questioned my decision. Probably because they thought (read: hoped) I would change my mind once or twice or six times at some point while earning my undergraduate degree. Because the average college student does, in fact, change their academic focus at least once in their first four years at school. But I think we all know I’m not average. ūüôā

Ever since I was a wee lass I’ve loved words–using them to express myself, to convey the otherwise untold life experiences of other people, to interpret those written experiences of other people. I don’t know how many people maintain the same interests as they navigate the early stages of life, but reading and writing have continued to serve as as ways to enjoyably spend my time and express myself and demonstrate some degree of talent. To¬†not¬†at least entertain the idea of pursuing a career in this area seemed foolish to me (but to each their own). English was what I wanted to study and I was certain I wasn’t going to change my mind (or I was certainly hoping I wouldn’t–hello, identity crisis).

Now I’m going to be a senior and clearly I haven’t changed my mind about my career path and will not be changing my mind at this point. Now that What do you want to do with that?¬†question that was initially asked in a joking manner is posed more seriously. This question becomes much more genuine, much more higher-stake. So my response should be genuine and thoughtful, right? Especially if I’ve known I’ve wanted a career in the English field most of my life. Right? Well…

You know, in all honesty, I don’t 100% know what I want to do. Does anybody? Really? Even the aspiring lawyers and psychologists and teachers. Sure, you have to complete certain schooling and achieve specific certification for careers like this, where experience and credibility are pertinent to your success. But with any career, even in my case where I think I know what I want to do, you can never really be sure until you enter the field and try out that dream career.

When it comes to responding to the original question, instead of prattling off an ambiguous, English major-related job title (that probably hasn’t been invented yet, as they say), I instead say the one aspect I want my unknown, English-y career to have–writing. I want to “go into” writing.

Then if Mr./Ms. What-Do-You-Want-To-Do-With-That inquires further I try my best to elaborate, though I don’t know how much of what I’m considering for a career is legitimate and how much is just some hybrid job I’ve made up after researching for careers in my field (Hey, I’m not worried about finding a job–yet–I’m just curious about what might be out there when I graduate. Don’t act like you’ve never done that before.).

I want to write–I’m thinking more in a journalism-related field than creative writing and novels, and not necessarily for a traditional newspaper. I want to write about things that matter to people, even if only a few. Community issues. Life events. Untold personal stories. I just want to write about life. I won’t even limit myself to writing. You don’t need solely words to tell a story. I can work with film. Art. Imagery. I want to be a storyteller. And I want that story to help someone. I want to help people. Maybe through a non-profit. I love non-profits. I’ve loved working with them thus far and I’d really like to continue that pattern in my post-collegiate career… And so on.

That sounds like a specific kind of career, right???

Yeah, I thought not. But doing something with any number of those qualities seems like a mighty fine way to spend your day (and get paid for it) to me. ūüôā Recognizing this response is a bit all-over-the-place, I usually stop after clarifying my preference for journalism over book-writing, because my inquirer usually assumes my “going into writing” means writing books. If I’m going to be a starving writer, I should at least get a book out of the situation. Or something.

And after nab my awesome English-y career or book deal or what-have-you, I can diagram sentences on the side! Or tell English-related jokes…

Knock-knock.

Who’s there?

To.

To who?

 

 

 

 

 

 

To whom.

Ohhhhhhhhh! Isn’t that so good?! Hilarious, I know!

Yeah… I’m going to be living on Ramen noodles for awhile… If I’m lucky.

Oh, also, before I forget–Happy One-Year Anniversary to me! ūüėÄ A year ago (literally, to the date, I couldn’t have planned this better if I tried) I started writing this blog on WordPress. So exciting! I’ll have my hard-earned Ramen noodles¬†and¬†my blog. Yes!

Okay, that’s all. For real, this time…

How Many Social Plans Do We Really Need?

You know what’s funny? And not funny in the literally-laugh-out-loud or weird way, but funny in a huh-sometimes-we-have-really-different-ideas-on-certain-things¬†sort. But do you know what’s funny in a huh-sometimes-we-have-really-different-ideas-on-certain-things way? The number of friends/acquaintances I’ve spent time with in the past couple months who expect me to have more than one plan in a single night.

Let me set the scene: It’s early summer evening–early enough where the sun is looking hazy, like it might go down soon, but still emits rays of heat on full blast, like it’s mid-afternoon. A friend and I are hunkered down in a favorite local eatery, chatting around bites of food, because food,¬†always. Or maybe we’re strolling around a neighborhood or the downtown enjoying the scenery or general ambiance while talking about everything and nothing. Then about an hour into our quality time together, my friend will inquire, “So, what else do you have going on tonight?”

That’s when I pause. My mind comes to a halt.

Bus_Fall

Only slightly dramatic…

WHAT?! Are you really asking me this? Does my introversion mean nothing? I mean, maybe they’re perfectly aware of my antisocial tendencies and simply have high hopes for my introvert self. But if that’s not the case. Then what about the time? Sure, we started hanging out in the early evening, but depending how early, it could be nearly or after 8 now. What in the world would I be doing after 8 on a school/work/week night? Oh yeah, after we get done here I’m just going to go over to my other friend’s house for a second dinner. Or go grocery shopping for this week’s supplies (actually, that’s not a bad idea–late night grocery shopping is significantly less people-y). In any regard, I’m really curious as to what my friend has in mind for a late work night plan. I can bet whatever unplanned thing I’d be doing after we part ways for the night would likely not match their ideal (think: reading a riveting novel, watching an old favorite movie with my brother, writing down my thoughts for the day, etc.).

Realizing the introversion and, perhaps, middle-aged person (for not making social plans after 8 pm) evident in my would-be response, I’m usually at a bit of a loss on what to say, despite being asked this more and more often. Aside from my inner-turmoil, I pause, taken off guard, and, hem and haw, amounting my plans of introvert relief to “not much”. And then my friend usually takes me out from under the microscope and steers the conversation to something else.

Perhaps it’s presumptuous of me to think whomever I’m hanging out with to know better than to ask this question. But I’d like to think if I consider us friends and we’re hanging out, that they’d know a few things about my social needs. I mean, I’m pretty vocal about them if you haven’t figured out already.

For one thing, I¬†am¬†an introvert, and a pretty extreme one at that despite my default jovial setting when placed in social situations with people I know/like. So when I do make plans, I am committed to those plans, and likely will have nothing else going on that night so as to recuperate afterwards. How many social plans do you really need in one night? Honestly. People can be great, but I can only take so much. I usually have to psyche myself up for one hang out session–do you really think I could really handle multiple engagements in one night? That I could maintain my Awesome Quinn persona for so long with so many different social situations? You do? Well, thanks for having so much faith in me. But no. No no. After we’re done here, I’m going to go home and recover from people by myself.

For another, my close friends–specifically my childhood best friend (Going on 15 years now! :D)–tend to hang out for longer periods of time. A few hours to an entire day (though not all the time) is pretty typical for us. If we have plans to hang out sometime in the afternoon, more than likely we won’t part ways until bedtime. Part of it’s just because we’re so fond of each other (I mean, being friends I’d hope so…), but I another part of it is we don’t get to see each other as often with school and work and other Grown Up Responsibilities. So when we spend time together, we make the most of it. But as I said/wrote, this is common of all my close friends. And my close friends (or at least those I consider close) are really my only friends. As in the only people with whom I spend copious amounts of time outside of my family. So, to me, hanging out for three or four or eight hours is totally normal (“normal”). It doesn’t occur to me anyone else’s reality could be different, until…

WHAT ELSE DO YOU HAVE GOING ON TONIGHT???

Sigh.

Until next time, Friends!

So, Why DO We Care What Others Think?

Anymore, to worry about how others perceive our persona is pretty much the norm for humans. Or so they say. Hence the spur of¬†don’t worry about what others think¬†posters/etc. as of late. But, because this is my blog and thus have to make the post applicable to me because of I’m selfish that way (writers: write what you know) *INHALE* individuals with social anxiety disorder, or SAD, experience this on a much grander scale. So I’m going to be focusing on them primarily. But don’t worry, non-chronic SAD-folk. I think you just may get an inkling of an answer too…

Anywhere from¬†oh, I hope *insert new friend/acquaintance’s name here* likes me and doesn’t think I’m too annoying¬†to¬†I sure am talking a lot/not talking enough in class–everyone probably thinks I’m a know-it-all/antisocial¬†to¬†everyone’s totally staring at me; I wonder what embarrassing thing I did now, we SAD-folk worry about it all, assuming there are people involved. And sometimes not even then. As far as I’m concerned, I feel like I have an audience hidden in the shadows watching me. ALL THE TIME. Well… not all the time–let’s not get weird. But, I mean, in situations when, theoretically, no one has any reason to be paying attention to me, I’m convinced everyone’s watching my every move, judging the way I walk, sit down, eat my food, etc. And it’s just… exhausting. And totally unreasonable, which I’m well aware of (preposition ūüôā ). Pretty much all SAD-folk know their anxiety and worries and paranoia(?) are seemingly minute and nearly irrational. But that doesn’t mean we can automatically change our mindset and BAM! we’re cured! Worry begone!

SAD_Cure

I shouldn’t find this as funny as I do.

Recognizing the perceivable simplicity of our worries though, I was tempted to do a little digging on why individuals with SAD care so much about what others think of them and why they’re left under the impression they have an audience watching at all times. I guess that was a little too specific, as I wound up relatively empty-handed in regards to particular SAD mindsets. Instead, what came up in my results was more… general: why SAD exists, or, in other words, causes of SAD. Here’s the long and the short of what I found:

There is no particular cause for social anxiety–no one thing that does it. Shocking, I know. The overall impression I got was SAD stems a bit from both genetics and environmental factors (otherwise known as nature vs. nurture).

The biological argument is, essentially, SAD isn’t so much passed down to children (although this is¬†a possibility–though more research needs to be done to prove this)¬†as it is¬†learned from the child’s parents/familial environment. So, if your parent or sibling has an anxiety disorder and exhibits symptoms of that disorder explicitly or implicitly–especially in the early stages of your life–you become increasingly likely to develop a similar anxiety disorder.

Though an SAD-specific gene has yet to be found (as far as I know), there is a part of our biological makeup that has been connected to anxiety causation. Any guesses? You may be familiar with the neurotransmitter,¬†serotonin? Yeah. Aside from managing our “bodily processes,” this guy also regulates our mood. Only, when you have too much serotonin in your system, your nervousness, er anxiety, increases. Thus, the official conclusion is individuals with anxiety (social or otherwise) have too much serotonin in the body. But, you know. Controversy.

On the environmental side of things (not limited to parents/families/close living environment), you may undergo a series of “trigger events,” or social scenarios during your childhood that (for lack of a better term) “scar” you enough that you develop what we know to be SAD or some kind of social phobia. Notice events, plural, as I don’t think any one event can serve as a catalyst for a mental disorder. These events, though could theoretically relate to anything social, are speculated to be related to trauma (like in those coming-of-age stories I seem to love so much), your environment while growing up (i.e. parents)–especially if the household was strict or protective, mass bullying, traumatic events (kind of like those in coming-of-age stories),

As I said, I didn’t find what I was looking for in terms of SAD-folk and their worries of acceptance, but I’m pretty satisfied with what I¬†did¬†find. Even so, knowing that the worry of pleasing and being accepted by others is common among humans, I looked into the reasoning behind this. And in doing so, I think I actually found the answer to the questions I was asking initially.

Humans are social creatures. And as much as some of us claim to hate people, abhor mankind, enjoy minimal social interactions, we need people and social interaction (minimal as they may be, sometimes) to survive. As a college student with a full-course load, two internships, extracurriculars, volunteering, etc., I, personally, become tired of humans real fast. Real. Fast. But something I’ve noticed about myself is when I feel the least inclined to interact with other people is when I find I need it the most; I feel so much better after socialization. Happier… And then usually exhausted because introversion. But anyways.

We need other humans to survive. And to ensure our survival, in theory, we need to be accepted by other humans in order to have friends, life partners, and families. And despite usually achieving acceptance in at least one if not all of those categories, we usually strive for acceptance in all even remotely social activities. People like being liked. That’s how it is (Though some will claim they don’t care. But hey, did you just read like a sentence ago about the need for social interaction to survive? Yeah, you care. A little bit.) But more so they need to be liked, accepted rather, to survive. And from that need to survive stemmed the need to be accepted and in other words liked. And so arose the universal worry about caring what others think. People with anxiety just have an extreme case of this worry… At least that’s how I see it (Hey, I sort of tied my blog title into a post for like the first time ever! Score! ūüėÄ ).

As for letting this supposedly oh-so-curable fear go, I’ll leave that advice to the¬†don’t worry what others think motivational posters/mugs/etc.

 

Other_Opinions

Alas, ’tis true. But so is survival… Ergo, needing people to like me… you know… some of the time.

Don’t you feel so knowledgeable?! Okay, actually you might already know a lot of this from your psychology class (Apparently two years ago is too far back. All of this was like a distant memory for me), or maybe just common sense. But hey, learning! ūüėÄ

I promise to switch to something less SAD-y for next week’s post. Though knowing me I could probably work it in!

Oh, That’s Not Normal? I Guess I’ll Go… Question My Actions Now…

What is “normal” anyway? That’s a pretty subjective term, anyway. Reminds me of that joke about society urging people to be themselves, and then when they become brave enough to do so, are judged for it… because it’s not “normal”. You’re probably wondering what I’m talking (writing) about, what evoked this train of thought. Well…

I was at work, and had taken a break to talk to a co-worker (GASP! Shocking I know…) and as is per usual in human conversation, I was asked about my plans for that day after work.

Ever since I came home from Italy, I’ve been making the effort to be a better daughter/sister/friend/worker/etc. (if you recall my Selfishness post) by my standards. Part of this involves hanging out with my dear younger brother. Now, we’ve gotten closer over the years as he’s gotten older and so we would hang out (watch movies, take walks, play cards, etc.) pretty regularly. But after I began college, I wasn’t around as much to do that. And when I was home, I was often too busy to spend much time with him–especially recently as I finished finals and have begun to move closer and closer to graduation and all that entails. So basically for me being a full-time student and devoted sister-friend doesn’t always work out. But with moving home and having time off of school, I planned for things to change.

Even with my jobs, I do have a bit of free time some days. And on those more open days, I leave my free time free for my dearest, now 15-year-old (yikes) brother, for whatever he wants to do (if he wants to do anything in particular, sometimes he doesn’t, but it’s nice to have that option ūüôā ). Anyways, the particular day I was asked about my after-work plans was an open-Max-hang-out day. I related a condensed version of the above while another co-worker entered the conversation and listened. When it became clear I was finished talking I was met with a comment along the lines of “Not many 15-year-olds want to hang out with their college-age sisters.”

Now, the comment wasn’t unkind; in fact, if what communication expertise I’ve gathered from my studies were any indication, I’d say the remark was made with admiration. Like what I’m doing is just so worthwhile… yet, different.

Different_Ash

Fantastic Mr. Fox… Anyone?

I don’t remember how I responded. But I remember my internal reaction–a jumble of thoughts flew through my head at once:¬†Why not? Why wouldn’t a younger kid want to hang out with their older sibling? Is that not something siblings do? Not at this age? Should my younger brother not want to hang out with me? Is this not considered normal?¬†This was one of those instances where I was so used to a certain aspect of my life, I hadn’t even considered the possibility of another reality.

What if? What if my brother weren’t who I know him to be? What if we didn’t have the bond we do? Didn’t spend time together like we do? Anything aside from what I have now didn’t occur to me, and that was so grounding, gratifying. What if I didn’t have what I have now? Had something else? I don’t know how things would be different, but I know there would be pros and cons to the situation just as there are in my current sibling bond. I think you know where I’m going with this, and I think you know it’s going to be terribly clich√© but c’mon, I can’t not; even with all the rough patches–including a rather field-y patch at that–I wouldn’t change a thing. Because, let’s be honest, my brother nor I nor all the other individuals close in his life would not be the same if he were different.

‚ÄúThe crisis might be what sticks in my mind, but the in-between moments are the ones I would not have missed for the world.‚ÄĚ –Jodi Picoult,¬†House Rules

So yes, admiring co-worker, maybe 15-year-olds don’t typically hang out with college-age siblings. Maybe it’s not normal. But mine does. And it’s my normal. And we have a pretty smashing time. You know, most of the time…

Love your siblings. And your parents–particularly your father today, as society demands. But if you remember my Mother’s Day comment, don’t show appreciation for loved ones just on their acclaimed holiday, but everyday–explicitly and implicitly… in your own way. Happy Father’s Day (if applicable). ūüôā

Also, is anyone impressed by abilities to cram the weirdest, opposing references into my posts? I think it’s my new talent…

I’m Going on an Adventure… AGAIN!

Considering my most recent post (Let’s Talk About (Write About?) Selfishness), this probably won’t make sense, what with my argument about not doing things to challenge myself socially, but I still stand by what I said. We’ll just say this is one of my first steps toward implementing that challenge… though I committed to this adventure¬†a few months ago and just immortalized the challenge yesterday… Anyway. Adventure! Again.

A little over a month ago, I went on a seemingly miniature adventure by comparison, in which I stayed overnight at an abandoned resort with fellow students from my school brought together by a passion to advocate for inclusion of diversity on campus. I was very anxious in the days, hours leading up to that adventure. And proceeded to be pleasantly surprised after the true adventure had begun. But despite this scary-turned-unforgettable experience being what it was, I’m still experiencing mass amounts of worry prior to my next big adventure even though it too is bound to be unforgettable. So what is this adventure at which I keep hinting? Well, I’m going to…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ITALY

*insert envious gasps and celebratory music here*

I’m going to Italy for three(ish) weeks on a class trip that aims to simultaneously envelop us dear college students into the standard tourist-y routines typical of foreign visitors yet integrate us into the everyday routines and habits of the locals. Very contradictory, I know. But considering this is my second time overseas and the first time was with a very large group filled with only tourist activities, I’m actually really¬†excited for the latter goal of this adventure: the integrating into native lifestyles bit. Well excited, relatively speaking…

This promises to be a unique opportunity not everyone gets offered… well at least those who don’t attend my school (it’s very common to spend time abroad at my university. I’m actually considered unusual for my lack of abroad experience.). It’s exotic, it’s timely, inexpensive (relatively speaking, from what I’m told). Which is sort of why I convinced myself to go. And while I was excited back when I committed so many months ago, now that the beginning of this adventure draws nearer and that more people know about it and the pressure to feel excited is heightened, I’m feeling somewhat less excited and more anxious.

Anxious about what’s going to happen while I’m Italy. What’s going to happen to the people I care about back home while I’m away. Whether I’m going to genuinely like and maybe even befriend the other people on this trip. Basically, all the big scary unknowns everyone’s so fond of fearing. I realize a lot of this worry stems from things I can’t control. And if I can’t control them, why worry? Well, doesn’t that just sound so easy? Yeah, on paper (computer screen?) maybe. In reality it’s not that simple. That’s just not how I’m wired; worrying is what I do.

I’ve been working myself up about this trip (clearly) and will continue to do so, even after the plane takes off, after we’ve arrived in Italy and settled into our convent-turned-bed-and-breakfast (so cool, right?!), after a few days of being enveloped and integrated into the Italian culture. But then, once the novelty wears off, the worry/anxiety will dissipate into their usual everyday doses, and I will begin to enjoy myself. Maybe even as much as everyone assumes. And I know I will–to some degree, if my track record is any indication. Everything usually works out just fine. I just have to be Quinn and dedicate ridiculous amounts of energy worrying until that sense of enjoyment arrives. Sigh, I’m so weird…

So yes: adventure. Woot woot! But fear not dear readers, for you will not be without my disorganized ramblings of a blog while I’m gone. This is an academic trip, as in while I’m in Italy I’m to be completing coursework, requiring use of my laptop/Internet. So… blogging! Funny enough, I’m actually required to keep a blog for my class to recount my experiences, so I may simply dual-post on my class’ site and here (though I think those posts will be significantly more academic than my informal ramblings. Hope that’s okay…). I can’t promise consistency nor my usual disorganization, but there will be a post at some point in the next few weeks while I’m away. At least one. Hopefully more. We’ll see… ūüôā

Ciao, for now! I guess. That rhymed! Yikes…

Oh! And depending on where you’re from/when you’re reading this: Happy Mother’s Day! Should circumstances allow, do something for your mom. Talk to her. Spend time with her. Let her know you love her in some way. If it were up to me, I’d say we shouldn’t need a holiday as an excuse to do these things; we should be loving and celebrating the people we love regardless of the day. But if you need the excuse of an officialized holiday to call up your estranged mother to chat, then so be it. Hey, you’re making an effort. Go you! ūüôā Okay that’s all.

Let’s Talk About (Write About?) Selfishness

Specifically my selfishness. How’s that for irony? As much as I’d like this to be some phenomenal self-help piece applicable to all readers, I know that’s just not possible. So like most posts, I’m selfishly using my own experiences to maybe, kind of, on the off-chance, indirectly help one or two people in addition to myself. Yep.

Lately I feel I’ve been selfish (hence the theme of the post). Beyond regular human capacity. And I don’t mean selfish in terms¬†of greediness or only looking to benefit myself, but rather placing my needs above the needs of others so as to ensure my personal well-being/stability. While of course, caring for yourself and ascertaining your own needs are met is vital to, well, living, I think there’s a limit to just how extensively those needs should be met. And I think I’ve exceeded my limit…

In former posts I’ve mentioned my introverted tendencies/social anxiety/simultaneous people-admiration yet fear of socialization; I’m pretty open about these aspects of my personality. But that wasn’t always the case.

Acknowledging my social anxiety in particular¬†is an act relatively new to me. I just started coming to terms with it and talking about it a few months ago. And ever since, I haven’t been able to stop. This is great! I’ve become more self-aware, self-accepting. I’ve made great progress from where I was prior to talking. But now I feel I almost use this facet of my personality as an excuse. To do things. Not do things. To justify my periodical antisocialness. While yes, social anxiety can be and at times is in fact a valid reason for certain situations, I think I may be… taking advantage of this part of me.¬†I think, ever since I’ve begun to talk about my social anxiety and come to grips with it, I’ve gotten so comfortable with this part of my life, I treat it like I treat all constants in my life–like a… security blanket. Like I’m just a little too comfortable with this part of my identity.

Because I’m so comfortable and so easily able to justify my behaviors or decisions by my anxiety, I easily refuse to take advantage of opportunities (big and small) that hold the potential to sprout my growth socially. Because saying no and staying with what you know is so much easier than the alternative. Than trying something new. Or even not so new.

Ever since coming home for the summer, I’m finding it harder and harder to be the person everyone is expecting–the person I want to be. I want to be a daughter, sister, friend, student, employee, writer, explorer, investigator (and probably more but this list seems long enough). But I’m also introverted and socially anxious. And those bouts of reality combined with my aspirations don’t always¬†work. It’s not impossible, no, but it is… a challenge. Or so I seem to think.

It¬†is¬†a challenge to be all this, all I want to be, but I think with my comfort in excuses, I’m exacerbating this challenge into something bigger. So as to simply not do all I want to do and to give up. Well, my version of giving up, which isn’t very similar to most peoples’ interpretation of the idea, but… And (in a very roundabout way) I think that’s selfish. I’m using facets of my personality and meeting the needs of those aspects to not do things. And that’s¬†not¬†okay.

Take_Care_Selfish

Oh good… Silver lining

I need to find a balance, a way to somehow be all that I want to be yet still care for the parts of me that need extra TLC (i.e. time alone/away from people). I just can’t get too CAREried away in the process of caring for my needs. Ha… that wasn’t funny. Sorry.

This potential balance achievement is going to be a journey–not so easily completed. Maybe not ever completed. Maybe full balance isn’t possible, but rather a trial of give-and-take that varies each day. I guess there’s one way to find out.

Alright dear reader(s) who were totally helped by my rambling bout to self-discovery: remember, take care of yourself. Meet your needs. But… don’t forget about those needs you share with others. Those need tended to too. Ha! To too. Yikes, I need a good laugh… And less ellipses.

I realize this is not my usual posting time. Don’t worry, we’ll return to regularly scheduled programming; I already had a post in mind for that but I was feeling really passionately about this topic, ergo the gift of extraneous blogging. You’re welcome! ūüôā

Why is Peopling So Difficult?

Also, why are so many of my posts titled with a question…usually beginning with “why”? I¬†guess even as an English major, having concrete answers for the seemingly inexplicable provides solace…¬†at least some of the time.

As human beings we crave social interaction (which I affectionately refer to as “peopling” when in verb form)–to some extent. The drive to be social brings us together, it evokes a commonality among¬†humans. But that extent, the degree to which we crave and seek out social endeavors divides us. We have different preferences, different means, different limits to how we choose to fulfill our socialization need. And in recent weeks, I’ve begun¬†to notice how easily my need is met by such minuscule human interaction.

I am an introvert. This is nothing new, and I fully accept and embrace this¬†about myself. Introversion is awesome! And rather refreshing in such a social society. But my level of introversion seems to be rising more and more lately. I’ve been told I’m personable, easy to talk with, and generally appear as an outgoing individual. Here would be important to note that in these instances when I’m commended for my above-and-beyond social performance, I’ve only had to be social¬†for a short while. Also important to note in these instances are the additional factors come in to play: a) I’m in a good mood and/or feeling socially at ease, b) the other person/people is/are intriguing/pleasant and we thus are able to connect, c) I enjoy the surrounding environment/situation eliciting¬†the social interaction, and/or d) all of the above. But all of those factors, even combined, can only amount to Pleasant, Social Quinn for so long. Or apparently not so long.

Jane_Eyre_CAPTION

Jane Eyre understands. Select the image to learn more about the inner-workings of an introvert.

I’ve come to find through my college and work experiences¬†my absolute maximum capacity for social pleasantry is about a day… if I have to be around people the entire time… and can still find a few minutes to escape for introversion solace. So technically not even a full day, really… Yikes.

Don’t get me wrong: there is an abyss of resources out there (i.e. the internet) advocating for introverts (their well-being, habits, problems in extroverted societies, coping mechanisms, self-love, etc.), and that is AWESOME! But those resources only get you so far especially when you’re going about your introverted existence. It’s one thing to read and talk about, but another to actually do (as is the case with pretty much anything). Especially when other people are involved. It’s like that society-wide instruction that encourages everyone to embrace their true selves. Yet when they comply, they get scorned for trying to be too much like their true selves, too individual and not enough¬†like the “true self” society already has outlined for its occupants.

Society

Introverts have gained a massive following in the past decade as more and more people are coming to grips with this facet of identity. But that doesn’t mean everyone is entirely on board with the concept. I don’t mean they aren’t willing to accept, they just don’t appear to fully… understand what being an introvert entails. If they did, they wouldn’t continue to push introverts out of their comfort zone, asking them¬†to spend so much time peopling even after trying to set the record straight on the concept of an introvert.¬†Or maybe they still would. Pushing us introverts out of our¬†comfort zone and all that.

While¬†I’m perfectly content with my introversion, I work to embrace it, why push me to my limit? I suspect to expand my horizons, maybe even extend my limit. But asking me to repress my introversion for a little while longer kind of challenges my efforts to embrace it, like even my extroversion, as sporadic as it is, still isn’t enough. And I find this rather frustrating. Kind of like I find people frustrating sometimes. Thus, lash out via the written word to the internet…

…I don’t think I really conveyed anything coherent in this post other than my struggle with extensive socializing and apparent disdain for people (even though I’m interested in studying them???), but consider it an elaboration on the title question, “Why is Peopling So Difficult?” Maybe you have an answer or insight you’d like to share. In which case, by all means share–I (and fellow introverts alike) would love to hear.

I hope your week has just the right amount of peopling in it. Until next time… ūüôā

It’s Happening

That moment supposedly every college kid endures while in school, in which they question their career ambitions, the meaning of life, whether 2 and 2 really equates to 4, etc. Call it what you will–a breakdown, an identity crisis, a mid-life crisis (a few decades early)–but after remaining confident in the belief I¬†was set to breeze through college knowing exactly what I wanted to do, I have begun to experience my breakdown/identity crisis/mid-life crisis. A few years too late.

I’m going to pause right here to integrate some perspective before continuing. I realize this is going to seem over-dramatic, unimportant in the grand scheme of things–considering all that’s going in the world right now (though when is there not something going on?)–but as made clear in a former post (Connotations of The FUTURE), uncertainty begs discomfort. And I don’t like discomfort. It makes me uncomfortable.

That wasn’t funny.

I have a lot of feelings on this right now and I feel the need to work out my seemingly unimportant crisis so that I may become less uncertain and thus less uncomfortable and if that means writing it out on my public blog for all to see, then so be it. Oh my word I’m rather defensive today, I am so sorry… uh… back to the post!

Feelings

Always.

So. I’m going through a minor crisis of the identity sort (if you hadn’t gathered) right now. Have been for awhile, but it hadn’t really come to head until a couple weeks ago while I was writing an article for work.

My school prides itself on sending students off campus to get “real life” and “outworldly” experiences (which actually is pretty ironic–that’s like saying, “Our academic institution offers students top-notch experiences…By sending them as far away from campus as possible.” Rather, my university¬†connects its students with these opportunities. But anyway.), and the central focus of my story was on a fellow student participating in one of these “real life” experiences. My university is partnered with a non-profit organization and program that integrates students into city-living in the hustle and bustle of Chicago, as this a place known for its diverse¬†communities and need for assistance. The idea is a student aspiring to work with this sort of group lives in the same type of environment as said group. Thus, the student gains perspective, an improved insight into what their “clients” experience on the daily. As a sucker for both non-profits and the observation of daily lives (that aren’t like mine), I became pretty smitten with the idea of taking on an experience like this. What better way to learn to serve people than to live their life? In the non-creepy sort…

I’m going to backtrack for a moment (ah, digression): depending on how familiar you are with my blog, you may or may not know of my English/communication studies double major status and my aspiration to write. I want to be a writer–perhaps in journalism though not so sure about the traditional newspaper sort. And what I’ve been told about aspiring writers in college is to plow forward and study English or communication or journalism (something writing-based), but pair it with a subject about which you’re passionate, about which you’d like to write upon achieving your professional writer status. So, say, if you wanted to write and specialize and in money-related topics you could major in English and finance. Or something.

Coming into college, I learned about this study-writing-and-subject-of-interest rule early on. But I didn’t know what the subject of interest was for me. I have a lot of opinions on various things in life, but not enough passion to dedicate my writing career to a particular field. So instead I paired English with communication. Essentially¬†two¬†writing majors. So I guess I’m the most bestest all-knowing writer of all time! (You caught that, right?) And simply don’t have an area of focus.

Which brings me back to the city-living partnership with my university. Up until that point, I’ve noted my passion for helping others and likeness for non-profits, but didn’t know how to merge that with journalism-esque writing. This experience seemed like a good place to start and gave a name to the subject with which I’d like to pair my writing skills: sociology. I’d like to write about people and they way they work, they way they live. Actually, I’d love to do it… I think. So where’s the crisis?

Remember near the beginning of this post I talked about experiencing my crisis a few years too late. Yeah… timing is not my friend here. I’m a year away from graduating (and on time, I might add, so maybe timing can be a friend), and switching up my area of focus now would, essentially, “throw a wrench” in that plan. I’m not such a tightly-wound ISFJ that I’m opposed to altering my college/career plans (I have too many P’s in my life anymore to be such a big planner), but I am a year away from finishing a degree for which I’ve worked really hard. I mean that. Full semesters. Multiple internships. Volunteer/leadership/”outworldly” experiences (though not in Chicago). It would seem so… undermining to the work I’ve put in for the past few years. Like it didn’t really matter, that these experiences that I¬†have undergone (even if not Chicago–sorry, like I said: smitten with the idea), that have shaped the person I am today, both good and bad, don’t matter. And they¬†do. I am certainly not unhappy with where I am headed career-wise. I’m not displeased with my decisions. Yet I still wish I had uncovered my interests sooner. I know I have had plenty sociology-esque, groundbreaking experiences (though on a smaller scale) without active pursuance of a sociology degree, but I’m going to wonder what could have been had I traveled down that path.

Alright, so maybe I’m not really having a crisis. Maybe this writing process really did help me sort out my “lot of feelings.” I am, however, a little disgruntled now. I know, grand scheme of things, don’t linger on what ifs–I got it. Just let me have my feelings.

UPDATE: I Went on an Adventure!

And I’m back now. And clearly fairly okay if I’m writing this…

I wish I had some sort of surprise ending for you with how everything turned out, but with as many stories that exist, there are just as many endings, and of those, rather well-known endings, so the ability to actually surprise you with my follow-up is pretty non-existent. Unless you don’t possess the talent of easily predicting things much like myself, in which case, prepare to be surprised…or “surprised” (if you already know where this is going).

In my last post, I expressed my mass anxiety in anticipation of the aforementioned adventure (a retreat on diversity and leadership) as well as my lack of confidence in believing I was an ideal candidate for such an opportunity. I experienced these feelings while writing the post and the in the days that followed all leading up to the retreat. And then those feelings became¬†heightened at the beginning of the trip and began to feel fairly justified during the first few hours. I knew next to nobody. I didn’t feel like the right type of person for this sort of experience. I didn’t know what to expect. Ultimately, I felt way out of my element, and thus feared the next couple of days would be absolutely miserable for my mental health.

And then something changed…

I can’t pinpoint an exact moment when my anxiety melted away, when my nervousness was replaced by near giddiness, but early sometime after our workshop began would be a fair assumption. During this time, focus shifted onto the central issues of the retreat–the primary reasons my fellow students and I were in attendance; our objective is to promote both a diverse and an all-welcoming and inclusive environment for students on campus. Priorities transitioned to others and ¬†their needs, and because of that, I wasn’t so worried about myself and sense of comfort or lack thereof. Everyone at this retreat was brought together by a common interest–one about which we are¬†all¬†passionate. From that, connections were formed and vast progress in planning for the future dynamic of our campus was made. *happy sigh*¬†It really was just a great time. ūüôā

The only complaints I have are the lack of recharge time for my introverted self (seriously, I was around people for 36 hours straight with no privacy–how I’m still pleasant and functioning I don’t know) and with that, lack of sleep. College students, when banded together, do not seem to like to sleep…

Overall, my adventure did not begin with excitement like that of Bilbo Baggins, but I can say it ended with utter happiness similar to Annie’s and Hallie’s when they found out they were twins. (I know the reference seems kind of random; I was aiming for an adventure/camp vibe here. It works, right?) Very much a success!

The_Parent_Trap

Aww! Does that just emanate connections and inclusiveness or what?

…But I shall still no-doubt be overcome with unreasonable amounts of dread and anxiety come my next big adventure! Oh, anxiety, whatever would I do without you?