Now that I’ve got your attention…lemme ’splain (as Ricky Ricardo so often said to Lucy).
I talk and write about the fact that I’m an introvert. And yet, ironically, I have a burning need to be around people. My Curry College COM students, especially those in my PR classes and members of the Curry College Public Relations Student Association, have heard this…a LOT.
Weird? Yep. The two don’t match? You betcha.
But there you have it. Maybe it’s a counter-reaction to having grown up on a farm in rural Dublin, Georgia, and having spent countless hours/days by myself, exploring the woods that surrounded our house and basically being my own best company.
School was “in town” where most of my classmates lived. Or, if they didn’t live in town, they, too, lived on farms miles away from me. At the end of the school day, I got on a bus, rode for half an hour or more, got off, and walked up the lane to our house. Alone.
I was happy, I guess. Or, if not “happy,” at least I was content. I assumed (if I even thought about it) that everyone else lived and felt the same way.
Then I went off to college and found myself surrounded by and interacting with hundreds of other humans 24/7.
I didn’t have a ton of friends at any of the schools (three, in fact…Auburn University, Middle Georgia College, University of Georgia) that I attended in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in something. But I had a few with whom I hung out and did all the things that, looking back, I would have been much wiser not to have done. And I thoroughly enjoyed each and every moment I was with them.
We talked. We laughed. We bitched and moaned about classwork, professors, other classmates…you name it.
Then I graduated…worked a couple of jobs (short-order cook for my Dad; record salesman for a friend’s family) in Dublin waiting for the inevitable “please join us” from the military (1968…Vietnam…etc.).
The “invitation” came, I joined the Air Force, and, in a demonstration of my incredible planning ability, wound up in Saigon, Vietnam, in 1969, teaching English as a second language to the Vietnamese military. And, once again, I found myself surrounded by millions of other humans 24/7.
And, once again, I made a few friends with whom I hung out and did all kind of things that, looking back, I would have been much wiser not to have done. This time, though, brought the realization that I really liked being around other living, breathing human beings.
I also found myself seeking out and taking on part-time jobs (bartender, library assistant, audiovisual support services) that had me interacting with other human beings. And I loved it!!
But…my introversion started making itself painfully evident. Yes…I interacted with others, but only to provide whatever services the particular job required that I provide. Otherwise, I was quite content to just sit in a corner and watch everyone else having a good time.
The key word here is “content.”
I didn’t feel “neglected.” I didn’t feel “unloved.” I didn’t feel “unnatural.” This was the way I had always been, and it felt perfectly “normal.”
Granted, I always did and still do admire those around me who appear perfectly at ease interacting both with friends and with strangers who they’ve just met. It’s just not “me,” and I’ve accepted that I’m not going to change.
And that’s the moral of this tale, my friends near and far. Recognize and come to terms with your frailties. Then find a way to use them to your benefit.
I’m happiest when I’m with living, breathing human beings…as long as I’m not forced to do anything more than simply be with them.
But I draw my energy from their own energy. I draw my creativity from the rich variety of personalities that are around me. And with that energy and creativity, I have been able to be something of a success in my professions of public relations practice and public relations education.
But I need living, breathing human beings around me for that to happen. In other words, I’m a vampire!