Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Letter to another Un-happy INtrovert

This excerpt is from a letter written by me, several months back. It has been edited slightly to protect the recipient's identity.

"I think, like the skin horse, we just get more real over time. It's inevitable. We probably get finally as real as can be, one second before our lights go out forever. That would be the last joke life has on us: Haha, guess what, all those little things you thought were so important and fought so hard to swim upstream for, they are nada.

So, you're an Unhappy INtrovert. Doesn't surprise me (the Unhappy part) - the world, the social world, the everyday interaction of the human primate troop, is made by EXtroverted people and reflects their sunny ways, so it becomes the measure against which we non-happies automatically fail. Which I guess is good.. what a rained-on parade introverts would make if we were in charge of setting the overall tone of life. So, us introverts or unhappies or whatever we are have to do double duty figuring out what is, what we are, how to relate to a rear-view mirror image of ourselves while we learn to drive ourselves forward. It seems like a lot more work, so it's kind of a good thing there are endless combinations and permutations available for neuroplastic social adaptation. It has taken me two-thirds of a life time to become even remotely even-keel, let alone consider myself capable of making any kind of contribution beyond one-on-one. What a long process.

I do envy social effortlessness as displayed by extroverts/apparent "Happies". They seem to have so many fewer issues. Maybe they are less transparent to themselves or just fake it better or maybe they feel better just being around someone/anyone else to the point where they placebo themselves automatically, a brain mechanism that others of us (like introverts) must construct consciously instead. It isn't like they aren't smart or don't think, because they do. And they have sadnesses, which they mostly hide, which I used to think meant they were superficial. I misjudged their consideration for the feelings of others in the human primate troop, and their apparent jolliness in being connected and chatting and social, as outright behavioural lying. I didn't realize it was brain food for them, that they absolutely depend on it, crave it every day. Since I've aged, I'm a lot more nuanced about how I judge others' social motivations. We are all total liers, because of how troop-y we are as human primates. No one knows which side is up, because of all those built-in perceptual biases that fool us continually. We are all here, doing the best we can to get along and help each other. Stepping away from troop situations which become, or that we finally realize are, uncomfortable or incongruous with our centroversion.

I decided long ago to hitch my wagon to science, learned to aim for mere "contentment" in life. For me "contentment" is practically synonymous with "containment," in every aspect of life but writing, over which I have temporal and environmental control, i.e., feel safe. Safe enough at least. Steam valve writing."

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