The Social Paradox

If asked, I would generally describe myself as an anti-social person.

You know, someone who tends to prefer to be alone. Someone who will sometimes go out of his way to avoid interaction with other people.

I’ve always been quite introverted. I enjoyed my time alone, even as a kid. I would stay indoors most days and build Lego sets instead of running around outside. Being around people always drained my social batteries quite quickly. And it has stayed that way to this day. I don’t get out much. I stay inside and write, play online video games, and learn Japanese.

When around others, I tend to get anxious. My palms will get sweaty (a horrible and uncomfortable affliction!), my chest will feel tight, and I’ll become increasingly aware of all the little things about me I don’t like; my shirt being wrinkled in a silly looking fashion, or my breathing sounding heavier than it should, or the like. Being near people is difficult. Talking to them is even worse! I can never think of conversation topics, and awkward silence ends up ruling the majority of the discussion.

So why, in spite of all that, do I crave the attention of other human beings? Why do I want to talk to them, to be their friend, to love them? The people that drain my energy and make me want to just curl up under my covers with music blaring into my ears are the same ones who I want to get to know better, who I want to spend time with, and the people I want to count as a near and dear friend.

Social paradox, indeed.

People fascinate me. I love them. The needlessly intricate relationships they maintain, the constant struggle with their own stressful problems, and the emotional highs and lows they experience. It shapes them all to be interesting individuals. Whenever I am in a conversation with someone, I always feel like I’m not getting enough. If I could obtain a superpower, I’d choose telepathy in a heartbeat so I could delve into people’s minds; the reasons why they are the way they are, the desires and passions that drive them, those are the things I want to know about a person when I meet them! Not where they work, or what they are doing currently, or how many kids they have.

But as much as they fascinate me, they also scare me. They are unpredictable; they’ll read something a certain way, or draw some conclusion, and fly off the handle. They get jealous, hateful, judgmental, and they hurt others. And the worst part? I can get the same way.

I love to be around people and converse with them, but I get anxious doing so, and run out of the energy to maintain myself at a social level quite fast. And opening myself up to others can also mean getting hurt in the process.

It’s a tough world out there, friends.

Humans are a social creature. That’s what all the experts are telling us anyway. I used to blatantly defy such logic, claiming to myself that I was better off being by myself and that others were just annoying and boring. It took me a long while before I realized that I enjoyed talking with those who opened up to me, that revealed their inner thoughts. Not all people are cookie-cutter; on the contrary, almost everyone is intrinsically different, they just all appear to be the same on the surface for one simple reason:

They are all just as scared as I am.

They all want to be accepted too. They also want to know what people think, but are worried that they’ll be shot down or condemned if they show their true colors. So they fashion themselves personas, hollow shells they wear as protective barriers against a harsh world that exists around all of us. It makes it easier to deal with things when you have a public face, but it also confuses those of us who want to know you better. It can scare us off.

But I digress. I seem to have lost my way in the mire of thoughts I have relating to socializing.

In the end, my relationship with those around me is a strenuous, yet worthwhile one. I love talking to them, but I need my alone time too. Spend too much time alone, however, and I’ll fall back into that vicious cycle of not wanting to venture forth and mingle, of just staying in my basement and feeling lonely. And I really don’t want to return to that.

It’s a delicate balance.

Less-than-eloquently yours,
Brendon “nervous wreck” Regier


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About Brendon

I am a global terrorism warlord, meth kingpin, and hacker extraordinaire who has a moon base, at least fifteen wives, countless armies at my disposal, and a discover card. Oh, I also frequently make things up when I'm bored.

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