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‘Please kindly go away, I’m introverting.’ Beth Buelow.

grasshopperThe tutor in my online art class this week was ‘artist / writer / naturalist’ Cathy Johnson.  Before I had even read anything about her, or seen any of her work, my first thought was ‘Oh Oh.  Naturalist.  Does this mean I have to take my sketchbook out-of-doors again this week . . . because I am still not really comfortable with that.  At all . . . ‘

bighatSo I was pleasantly surprised to see that the first part of Cathy’s video class was all about how she, a self-confessed-dyed-in-the-wool introvert, handles going out and about in the big wide world to do her sketching and painting.  (She wears big hats and sunglasses, uses earbuds so people will think she is listening to music or a podcast, and positions herself in corners or with her back to a wall so that ‘no-one can sneak up behind me’ . . . )

At first I shook my head at her suggestions as it all seemed a bit silly but then, quite unexpectedly, I caught myself seriously considering whether that old hat I bought at the markets years ago would be big enough for me to hide under . . . and, you know . . . I’ve got some big sunglasses . . . if I wore that hat and those sunnies . . . and kept away from the main walking paths . . . then maybe I could go out and about with the sketchbook and no-one would bother me or even know who I was and . . .

OMGOh.My.God!  Hi.  My name is Sally, and I think I am an INTROVERT!

Gasp.  No, I must be mistaken.  I have never, ever thought of myself as an introvert.  I like my personal space, that’s all.  And, sure I’m not really a party person, or into the pubs and clubs scene . . . and I don’t like to be in the cinema when it gets too crowded  . . . or sketching where anyone can see me.  And some weekends I wouldn’t bother to go out at all if the dogs didn’t need walking.  Okay.  I can see where this is going.  Perhaps this does merit further investigation.

The dictionary defines an introvert as ‘a shy, reticent person’.  Pfffttt.   Well, I am not in any way shape or form ‘a shy, reticent person’ so there has to be more to it than that. Time to do some extensive research on the subject (i.e. ‘google’ it).

introverts-unite-mens-premium-t-shirtThe terms ‘introvert’ and ‘extrovert’ were originally used by psychologist Carl Jung in the 1920s to explain the different attitudes people use to direct their energy.  Extroverts were generally determined as being outgoing, having a wide range of friends and being comfortable working and playing in large groups. Introverts were seen more often as reflective, preferring to know a few people well, comfortable being alone and liking to do activities they can do on their own.

Well, I guess when you put it like that . . .

But I am not just going to take Jung’s word for it.  There are loads of on-line personality tests out there. Let’s shake it up a bit and see what they think.

The Quiet Revolution indicated I was definitely an introvert. Okay.  Let’s try that again.  Lifehack. Different questions, same result.  Introvert.   Mmmmm.  One last time. The Psychologies test stated I was a ‘public extrovert but a private introvert’.  (I do believe that is what is what is called ‘hedging your bets’.) 

So there you go.  Introvert.  (Not even an ambivert, which, considering I had never even heard that term before today, is no great loss anyway.)

Fire-Escape-Plan-Fire-Chiefs-of-OntarioBut seriously—although I have never associated myself with the word ‘introvert’, I can’t say I am all that surprised at the personality test outcomes.  I have always needed to spend a lot of time on my own.  My social energy definitely has an expiry date and I often spend an inordinate amount of time deciding whether I want to go out somewhere or not.  And then, more than likely, I won’t go.  (And if I do go, I usually have an ‘escape plan’ already in place . . .)

And it seems I am in good company.  Depending on where you get your information (i.e. which google search you believe) about 25% of the world’s population are introverts . . . or maybe it’s closer to 50% . . . or (my favourite)  ‘a minority in the regular population but a majority in the gifted population.’ (Gallagher, 1990; Hoehn & Birely. 1988.)

So now that I know, and (grudgingly) accept, that I am (probably) an introvert (at least that sounds better than ‘socially retarded’) what difference does it make?  None at all really.  I’m pretty happy being who I am and doing things the way I do them and I have no plans to make any drastic changes.

grouchoExcept maybe I will take some of Cathy Johnson’s advice.   A rummage around the house for a quick ‘disguise’ and I might just go and find myself a quiet corner out in the world (preferably with a brick wall behind me) and try a little outdoor sketching.

It could be the start of an all new (quiet) adventure . . .

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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‘How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.’ Winnie the Pooh.

living-aloneA couple of acquaintances and I were chatting recently over coffee.  I admit, I’d lost track of the conversation a bit (I was looking for something in my handbag) until there came the question ‘Don’t you ever get lonely living on your own?’ followed by a pointed silence.  I looked up. They were looking at me.  Me? Live on my own? Whatever gave them that idea?  And then I realised they was actually talking about living with other people . . . 

In spite of the fact that living alone still gets a bad rap in our society, it is a trend on the rise.  In Australia, 1 in 4 people now live in ‘lone-person households’ and that number would probably be even higher if more people could afford to do it. (For once in my life I have actually been ahead of a trend! Woo Hoo!)  And I get it—there are many advantages to living alone (and before you say ‘Yes but . . . ‘ I do realise there are disadvantages too—but not enough of them yet for me to want to start sharing my space again.)

I love living by myself.  The whole house is my space (well—except for Molly’s spot on the end of the couch (she could give Sheldon Cooper a run for his money . . . )  

mineI can be as clean or as messy as I want. (I am not a messy person, but if I was, it would be my mess.)  I can channel-surf the TV as often as I like (so *&^%ing annoying when someone else does it)  and I never, ever, ever, have to watch any sport.  I can eat (or not eat) whatever I like, whenever I like (no judgement)—and the only one giving me a hard time about not doing any exercise is me.  I can rock around the house to my favourite music (without headphones) and sing very loudly and—well, I could go on and on . . .

harlequinDo you think that sounds incredibly selfish?  You are probably right (although you’re possibly also just the teeny-tiniest bit jealous?) but you know, in my defence (not that I really feel I need a defence)  I am well aware that I can be rather ‘challenging’ to live with, so I like to consider living on my own as a kind of  . . . public service.  Seriously.

So, having now convinced you of how content I am, I must also concede that I honestly am not sure if I would be as content if  didn’t have a dog . . . or a cat . . . or a bird . . . or a hamster . . . or some other kind of ‘critter’ sharing my home with me.  For, in truth, in my years of living ‘by myself’ I have never ever had to come home to a completely empty house.

Most people who share their homes with pets will attest to the love and companionship their pets provide, but they also give us a sense of purposegive me a sense of purpose.

hermitWhen living alone it becomes very easy to think only of yourself.  To think only of your own welfare and your own needs.  My girls give me something else to think except myself. They rely on me for their food, exercise, health and wellbeing.  I am insular by nature (‘Please kindly go away . . . I’m introverting) and sometimes I think that if it weren’t for my girls (and the fact that I have to go out to work for a living of course) I would never want to step outside of my comfy little house at all.

But my girls are are everything I am not.  They are social creatures.  They are loving, and cheerful, and playful, and hilarious, and they like to get out into the big wide world and meet other people (although they still love me best) and I like to think (to hope) that some of their happy nature rubs off on me.  I am definitely a nicer person when I am around them.

So, living alone.  Yes or No?  Yes.  Absolutely yes.

Living alone with a pet . . . or three . . . even better . . .

doggies-at-the-window

‘My girls’ — Molly, Mabel and Maude

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘You say freak, I say unique.’ Christian Baloga.

eccentricI heard a news report the other day where yet another young man had been arrested on suspicion of being a terrorist sympathiser.  When one of his neighbours was interviewed about the arrest she said that she was not at all surprised the man had been arrested because he was definitely ‘weird’.

Now I don’t know whether this man was guilty of being a terrorist sympathiser or not, but the thought came to me that there could be a lot of people out there in the world in serious trouble if one of the main criteria for being considered a terrorist suspect was merely to be considered a little ‘weird’ . . .

pryingUnfortunately, it’s a sign of the times.  So many awful acts have been perpetrated upon unsuspecting and innocent people over the last few years that any sort of behaviour not deemed absolutely ‘normal’ instantly arouses suspicion.  The authorities are now even actively encouraging all of us to keep an eye on each other, which would be great if we were all doing it to ensure that our friends and neighbours were all okay and not in need of any help, but, sadly, the intent seems more to be on the lookout for any ‘odd behaviour’ that might reveal an underlying evil or sinister motive.

I think that’s kind of sad—and just a tiny bit worrying for those among us who may have the odd strange little habit or quirk that someone who does not know us well might misinterpret as suspicious or dangerous behaviour.  (And no, I’m not talking about myself in particular here, just in case you were wondering . . . )

To be a little bit weird is not all that new of a thing.  The world has always been full of weird (and wonderful) people.  History is rife with them.  Polite society commonly refers to them as ‘eccentrics’. (Not-quite-so-polite labels include abnormal, aberrant, odd, queer, strange, peculiar, bizarre, outlandish and freakish.)  To be eccentric means to be unconventional, slightly strange or ‘off centre’ and, according to Dr David Weeks (Eccentrics: A Study of Sanity and Strangeness) some of the characteristics defining an eccentric person include:

a nonconforming attitudeeccentric
creativity and intense curiosity
idealism (they want to make the world a better place)
a happy obsession with one or more hobbies
high intelligence
opinionated and outspoken
mischievous sense of humour
little interest in the company of other people (or their opinions)
non-competitive, nor in need of validation or reassurance from the rest of society
are aware of their difference to other people

(Does any of this sound familiar?  Take this short quiz to see how eccentric you are.  Go on—I dare you.)

nonconformistSo, eccentrics are often highly intelligent, nonconformist introverts whose creativity and curiosity knows no bounds.  Unlike those diagnosed with a mental illness, eccentric people have not lost touch with reality—they know they are dotty, but they are usually quite happy with their dottiness.

Dr Weeks’ study concluded that eccentrics were happier and healthier than the rest of us, saw doctors far less often, lived longer than their non-eccentric counterparts and certain eccentric individuals (such as Albert Einstein, Dr Patch Adams, Nicola Tesla and Alexander Graham Bell) had made major contributions to mankind.

Well, if that is what being ‘weird’ is, it doesn’t sound all that scary to me.  In fact, I think it sounds pretty cool.  Perhaps what we should be doing is more actively encouraging individual eccentricities and oddities instead of trying to smother them and make everyone conform to the ‘norm’.

And maybe, just maybe, if more of us were to take a leaf out of the eccentrics handbook every now and again and really embrace our own inner weirdness without worrying so much what other people might think, we might not only become a happier and healthier population but perhaps become a little more tolerant of all the other weirdos out there as well.

It’s definitely something to think about . . .

smiley-people

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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