On Being Anti Social

I don’t usually have epiphanies, but when I do they cause giant earthquakes at the very core of my being and then I’m not the same person anymore.

I remember the beginning of my adolescence being tainted with a tumult of an internal sorts, between wanting to be popular and wanting to be left alone at the same time. Then suddenly I was 19 one day and I had to make the choice of a lifetime. Because of course, adults aren’t supposed to be confused or divided on the inside, I told myself then, hah. After diligent observation and consideration and experimentation I chose the path that felt most natural, most comfortable and most congenial. Pleasantly I severed all my social connections and embraced my extremely introverted tendencies. That got me all the time in the universe to read books, to have Hannibal marathons, to master the four-suite Spider Solitaire, to teach myself Norwegian, to sing Gaelic songs in excitingly long showers, to travel without limitations, to write without hesitations, to make a new paper-mache monument everyday and to quietly stare at the inky blue black sky shaped slate every night and peruse the scrawls made of stars.
It was a good life.

And like all good things ever, it stood in complete contrast with the rest of my family. My parents live on social philosophies which were poles apart from mine. My behaviour was an incessant source of irritation to them and theirs to me. I just couldn’t fathom how I could share genes with people so abnormally active in social engagements. My father proactively uses social media to stay in close touch with not only his college friends but also his schoolmates and school teachers and staff. Just last month, his group organized a huge reunion for a clerk who was retiring from their school after 34 years. And I don’t even know my neighbour’s name…

This morning, I woke up to see my mother running around preparing breakfast for some distant elderly relative from the other side of the town who has been admitted in a hospital near our house. I couldn’t decipher the logic. Dad was significantly understaffed at office, which meant a lot of extra work for him and yet he went on to spend his entire morning running around, to help these relatives at the hospital. He could’ve simply delegated the hospital duties to a cousin or someone. It was nothing serious after all. And my mother spent her day helping dad’s friend’s wife shop for local ethnic clothes for her two year old niece.

Then it struck to me. Though my parents do their social bit selflessly, tomorrow should trouble strike them, people will come to help. Because they’ve helped people at every occasion that they could. Or tomorrow, if my parents choose to throw a party, people will happily come to attend. And me? I could go AWOL for a week and even after that perhaps my neighbour’s dog would be the only one who notices. In a smaller and more primitive setting, if the world was a really a village and it was struck by a flood, my chances of survival would be the least. Because, one, no one would remember warning me about the flood; two, no one would notice my absence. The deeper I delved into this realization, the more closely I could make sense of the core structure of civilization and societal living. We may or may not want to live in a society, but we certainly need to live in a society. Tortuous as it may be to the anti-socials, our survival is connected with our societies.

Being anti-social isn’t depressing or lonely, if you do it right. I am thoroughly proud of being able to enjoy my own company. Narcissistic, that may sound, but its an art very few have wholly mastered. But being anti-social is also a privilege that can be afforded only if you are obscenely rich and don’t need to engage with the society because you can simply purchase everything you want (unlike me) or if you are so bloody popular that even when you don’t interact with the society, your people never forget you (unlike me) or if you have been lucky enough to inherit the love and care and attention of your society that your family has earned over the years (like me).

If you too, are like me, then I propose we try an interesting social experiment from tomorrow:
Instead of looking elsewhere all the time, if we bump into our neighbours in the lift or in the parking lot, we will say hi. Nothing more, we don’t want to freak them out or get freaked out.
We could probably ask them their dog’s name too. And who knows, perhaps an year later we could be asking them their name too!

 

46 Comments

  1. I prefer to call it alone-ness and there is a fine balance. It depends if you work and get social interaction there. If you work and then maybe one evening join a group and then a few hours on one weekend day that should suffice. But alone-ness is still important to us creatives. Imagine if none of us had ever been alone where would all the great art be. Great post.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I’m glad you discovered your introversion early on. I have only just had that earthquake moment and I’m 37! All that time I was pretending to be extroverted. All that time I tried to emulate others instead of focus on my strengths.

    It is easy to totally shut off. I mostly forget to make conversion. It feels introversion can be a black hole drawing me in. You are right. We should acknowledge people more. I shouldn’t be so selfish.

    I will endevour to make more conversation – thanks to your post.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I understand you. I have times where I feel that I NEED to be around people and other times when I NEED to be alone. I always said that if I won the lottery I’d spend I year traveling ALONE..

    Sometimes I need to getaway but I really don’t have that luxury right now (recent college grad that lives back at home).

    Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s quite interesting you were able to recognize your introversion at a young age. My high school and even college days were exhausting from trying and finding ways to fit in, doing what most people do my age, etc. I recently ‘discovered’ myself and currently obsessed about, thus resurrecting my dormant blog. One thing I’m happy about is finding a lot of ‘us’ in the blogosphere.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ditto. It’s heartwarming to find people of your kind, more so because we don’t have to talk face to face, hah. (I’ve been told that I’m not compatible with the systems of social conversations)

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I wouldn’t dare to say we have a generation gap, but in the last five years a lot of literature has been written and distributed about self acceptance and introversion, I believe. Partly because of this surge in the use of social media. I think that has a lot to do with my ‘self discoveries’. But I can relate to you very well. I too started this blog four years ago and then got lazy about it, busy trying to impress the world outside. Only a few months ago I realized that I wasn’t meant to impress anyone, but only express myself.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Exactly my thoughts. I’ve had a few journals/diaries over the years that I meant to post over a blog but never materialized. I got busy with life goals and, along with it, a burn out that I’m still recuperating from since last year. But the time actually paved the way for my self discovery. And although I might have accepted a little of myself then, it’s only now that I’m fully embracing it without fear or judgement from anybody else. I’m no writer but writing certainly became a refuge since then. And of course, the need to connect deeply is inherent.

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      5. I started with 0 followers in December and now I like to believe I’m part of this warm and supportive community that is truly accepting and admiring. It’s a pleasure 🙂

        Like

  4. Can definitely relate. I had the thought that there would probably only be 20 people at my funeral and it would all be family because none of my family would know any of my friends to contact to let them know about it. I would definitely be okay with living alone with books and music, but at the same time definitely know that relationships and not doing life alone is where it’s at. Just got to learn to do relationships – hehe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wrote this post mostly for myself to record and remember the epiphany. It’s pleasantly surprising and overwhelming to have so many people tell you how they can relate to it. Thank you so much for sharing, you’re absolutely right

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      1. See here is a perfect example. I’ve only been here two weeks and I’ve connected with you two beautiful souls on a level I never did with people I work with everyday. It’s not quantity, but quality and and depth that we crave, so I think we’re going to do just fine with relationships, because we are good at being alone, too.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve been living at this house since 1999. I only started walking our dog down the lane across from our house 2008, and down their lives a couple and their dog. At the time they had two, a collie and a lurcher, and both myself and the couple knew the names of the dogs, not each other. Even though we’d occasionally get each others mail (the posties occasionally mix up our houses because so few of them are on the map), it was only just before Easter this year that we “reminded” each other of our names. Took 8 years, but we got there. I’ve even helped look after their chickens. Progress 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. In recent years, after realizing I’m introverted, I feel I can finally be comfortable in my skin! Although, I have figured out to fake extrovert, when needed. This is handy!

    I think there is a quiet introvert movement in this world (of course quiet… introvert…). And the leaders… where are the leaders… Oh yes, introverts!

    But seriously, it seems like the leaders in the field are writers, from what I can see.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I can relate to this on so many levsis. Being able to socialize is very important, but for some of us an abundance of alone time I’d absolutely necessary. I’d kill for some alone time during the daylight without me being at work.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s a very original read, great work!
    On a separate note, I don’t enjoy the romanticism being introverted gets. There is a charm when it comes to being able to head a group of people.
    I’m an ambivert, we are boring.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Brilliant. I love what you did with your time off. I spent years alone like that but I never really examined myself to any depth. I suspect you are much more unforgettable than you seem to think, in the piece. Thank you for sharing this.

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  10. I really relate to this post. I often find that I am forcing myself to keep socialising because I will always naturally prefer to be on my own. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying your own company but there’s always this balance between social commitments and ‘me time’. Sometimes I think life
    Would be easier if I was a more naturally outgoing social butterfly, but we’ve all got to be true to ourselves! I’ve just written a post on social media, love your blog and would love to get your thoughts on it! 😊X

    Liked by 1 person

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