Thursday, June 5, 2014


I'm learning something about myself. It's something I've known in part for a while, but recent experiences have revealed it to me more fully.

I'm impossibly distracted by people. They are the most delightful form in existence, and I'm hopeless at ignoring them.

"Wait," you ask, "aren't you introverted? And haven't you said there's never a time when you don't want to be alone?" Yes, I have said those things. Despite how it may seem, what I've asserted just now is not in direct contradiction to them. It is possible to love people and want to not be in the room with them. It's an incredibly frustrating state of affairs that I often wish I could resolve, yet it's reality nonetheless.

How do I know this about myself? The last blog I wrote centered on Benedict Cumberbatch. I don't know Benedict Cumberbatch, so why do I care enough to write about him? Not only that, why have I spent the hours and hours it took for me to look him up online enough to be able to write about him, and watched movies and mini-series the likes of which I never would have seen had his captivatingly peculiar face not been in them? It's because he's interesting, and I can't ignore it.

Another piece of evidence is this: when I was in college, I spent more time thinking about my professors than anything they said to me. On occasions when called upon to write in-class essays, no matter how sure I was of the subject matter, I would always freeze over my pencil, at a loss of what to say, and often wished I had been asked to write about my professor instead. Or one of my classmates. Students are rarely the focal point of the class, and I mostly sat in the front of the room which disallowed me a clear view of my peers, but even they would have been easier to write about than, say, the significance of the Latin phrase repeated by John Milton in "Epitaphium Damonis." (Which, by the way, is heartbreakingly beautiful, and compelling, but still not as interesting to my brain as the people in my presence.)

I've mostly realized this, however, by living with my family for a very long time. A few years ago, when I graduated with my English degree, some circumstances arose which made it hard for me to move on with my life. I do believe reason was found in all of it. My uncanny ability to focus on the people I lived with was useful, and while I don't believe things should have happened differently, I do think that had my family been easier to ignore, it wouldn't have taken as long for me to make my own plans for my life. In the fullness of time, things are slowly changing, and I have had substantial time recently to live alone. As I expected it might be, it's one of the best experiences I've ever had. I have so much time to think. And it elevates my productivity levels immensely. The first time I spent a week alone, after many days of a new reality, I started to grow accustomed to the things I was able to do with my time. Then, my whole family walked back in at once, and as happy as I was to see them, a part of me was disappointed at how useless I suddenly felt. From my newly acquired perspective, I could barely get anything done. Before then, I knew I struggled to stay on task in the midst of everything going on around me, but the contrast between the old life and the new was more staggering than I expected.

So what do I make of this? Part of me wants to say, live alone the rest of your life so that you can control your human interaction. You'll be better off. That sounds appealing, but my whole self has yet to be convinced. There is also a part of me that suggests it's obvious I don't need to fight my nature, but rather find something to do with my life that demands uncompromising attention to people. My whole introverted self is not convinced of that either.

I expect I'll be wrestling with this a long time to come, perhaps even the rest of my life. Some battles aren't destined to be won this side of eternity. So as I'm still waffling, I'm gearing up to follow the advice of my latter self and spend two weeks at Camp Formosa. I suspect part of my sustained waffling is a result of the gift/curse of choice, because I do think if I could move in and work at camp full-time, I probably would do it without hesitation, despite my deep cherishing of solitude. But such an opportunity has not been presented to me, so here I am still waffling over what to pursue. For the time being, though, for a short while, I'll put my waffling on hold to spend some time with some of my favorite people on the planet. I don't get paid for anything I do at Camp Formosa, but I still consider it one of the most important jobs I've ever had. Maybe I should take that as a clue to help me find the answers to my questions.

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