Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Apparently, I Love People, Who Knew?

When I tell people I'm a writer, they almost always, at some point, in our first conversation make a reference of some kind that I must be an introvert. I almost always take offense but smile politely and respond with something to the effect that writing tends to be solitary work but that I enjoy people. I've struggled with this stereotype for a long time. Does the fact that I spend long hours alone with the voices in my head make me an introvert? I really don't think so. The fact that I listen to them, talk to them, and write down what they say may call my sanity into question, but it doesn't make me an introvert.

I've never considered myself either an introvert or an extrovert. I've even argued the point with friends. I love a good party. I love to be around people. I love to engage with other people in stimulating debates and interesting conversation. Sometimes I love sitting in a crowd and absorbing the energy around me. I love hearing people's stories and sharing my own. I will happily strike up a conversation with the stranger in the grocery store, sitting next to me on a plane, or at the next table in a restaurant. Yet, I can just as happily turn around and spend a day or a week in virtual solitude when I'm deep in my writing projects. Even then I'm never completely cut off from the world. I need the connection with people even if it's only through social media, texting, telephone, or whatever. If I don't have social contact on at least a semi-regular basis, I get more than a little grumpy. Same goes if I don't get my solitude to write...

I need a balance of socializing and solitude to function at my best. Personally, I think this is healthy.

People who know me well know I have an aversion to labels, so I hate it when people call me an introvert or an extrovert or anything else for that matter. I believe as soon as we seek to label ourselves or anyone else, we limit our ability to reach our full potential.

Too often we embrace a label and behave to fit that label because it's what's expected. If we look beyond labels, we may find possibilities open to us we wouldn't have even considered before. When we get the time to know ourselves without external labels, we set ourselves on a path to higher enlightenment.

I refuse your label. You can keep it. I'd rather soar into my full potential on wings built of both socializing with others and solitude perfectly balanced while defying any labels that seek to contain me.

So yes, I love both people and solitude... And, that's perfectly fine...

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