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Thread: Does normal even exist?

  1. #11
    Senior Member SiouzQ.'s Avatar
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    I'm finally off work for the day - thanks Jilly for finding an opportunity to run with what I posted earlier today.

    I am rambling today so this probably won't make much sense - I am once again noticing my own quirks and behaviors and somehow feeling bad about it, again. I am an introvert who can pretend to be an extrovert a lot of the time but I love to spend time alone without making plans to see anyone or do anything with anybody. I just had two days off in a row and made no plans with anyone, but I really don't have anyone to makes plans with anymore. I have been isolating and being quite the recluse this past winter, just going to work and sometimes going out to an open mic to play my guitar. When I get to places there a lot of people I *know* and can sit with, but I don't really like conversing or hanging around. I just can't do it anymore and I don't know why. I jsut don't know where I fit in anymore...I haven't been feeling depressed or anything; I think I just don't like to socialize but I have been getting a little lonely lately as the weather warms up.

    The thing is, I am noticing more and more how much I am like my dad, who in retrospect, is probably on the Asperger's spectrum for certain behaviors. I came from a family of loners and introverts; my parents never really had friends over and our family was pretty insular. We are not that close as adults, either. When I stop and think about the social cost of being who I am, it's pretty sad. I have a hard time maintaining relationships with people. They tend to to drift in and out of my life. I have maybe two people right now I could totally depend on to be there for me through thick and thin.

    I don't really know what I am trying to say, other than it can be a painful way to live. I don't know how to change or adapt because it is part of my core personality, like having curly hair or green eyes. I tried many things over the years to be more "like" other people, trying to be a social butterfly, having to drink and smoke cigarettes as social props because things felt so awkward and exhausting. I don't smoke anymore (seven weeks so far!) and rarely drink and the things I used to do to be the tiniest bit social, like go to the bar for a music jam or to hear friends play have gone by the wayside, in large part due to my crazy work schedule.

    So I spend all my free time alone now. Most of the time it is great but then I start thinking how weird I am and it is bothering me. PMS is also bothering me right now so maybe that is why this weird feeling is being amplified.

    I am feeling so scattered tonight, I better just end here and hope some of this made sense...

  2. #12
    Senior Member pcooley's Avatar
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    I certainly don't think there's a normal, but sometimes, I feel like I don't fit into what accounts for in the ballpark with the people I hang out with the most. Most of the parents of my children's friends are Catholic. I'm Buddhist and a follower of Meher Baba. People let their kids eat utter crap -- chips and soda and pizza and hot dogs and endless junk food, and these are people that I think of as educated. I literally don't understand. I might occasionally, at a restaurant, say "OK, you can have a soda with your dinner," or on very rare occasions buy potato chips, or ice cream. But those things I'm embarrassed by, and a little ashamed that I'd let my kids have them. It's a behind closed doors sort of thing. Our friends are like "hey, let's get the kids together, you bring the soda, and I'll throw some hot dogs on the grill!" What? Do people really still do that? Without the least hint of irony? That also makes me realize that we've become the sort of parents kids are embarrassed by. "Hey, bring your friends over and I'll make tabouli and falafel!" No wonder my children roll their eyes at me. Throw in there our eight years of living without a car, and my continued push to drive as little as possible. (We broke down and bought a car because the charter school our daughter made it into is pretty far out of town, and she's doing track. We plan to get rid of it again when our kids get to college).

    I think my introversion has a lot to do with how uneasy I feel. I'm also -- clearly -- guilty of judging the people around me. I have to bear in mind that no - there is not real normal. We all meet on the common ground of our humanity. And even when we try to do everything right, we still do plenty wrong.

    Edited to add - which I always seem to be doing: It's almost as if I can't enjoy other people because my drive to do what I think is right, (healthy food, environmentally good choices, somewhat liberal radical agenda), doesn't sync with the conservative, Catholic, middle America social situation we find ourselves in. I could let go and enjoy the chips an hot dogs and soda, (though I have gotten to the point where I don't really enjoy soda much when I try one these days), but then, who am I projecting? How do I project this striving for simple living positively in the social setting we find ourselves in? And the thing is, I know there are other people like us in Northern New Mexico, but we're all doing our introverted thing. We only get drawn in to social circles populated by extroverts. We introverts kind of circle around each other and then go back to what we're doing.

  3. #13
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    I find it interesting that a label like "exceptional" is "not normal", but it's somehow better. But the broader label of "not normal" is usually portrayed as something inferior. There's a logical disconnect there.

    I think the negative connotation of "not normal" is primarily from those who get anxious when their world view is challenged and take solace in the perception that what they do is "normal" - and from those who use the label as a means of presenting their world view as superior to other, different world views.

    (I've quoted this before, but I just love this)

    Now, the Star-Bell Sneetches had bellies with stars.
    The Plain-Belly Sneetches had none upon thars.
    Those stars weren’t so big. They were really so small.
    You might think such a thing wouldn’t matter at all.

    But, because they had stars, all the Star-Belly Sneetches
    Would brag, “We’re the best kind of Sneetch on the beaches.”
    With their snoots in the air, they would sniff and they’d snort
    “We’ll have nothing to do with the Plain-Belly sort!”
    And, whenever they met some, when they were out walking,
    They’d hike right on past them without even talking.

    When the Star-Belly children went out to play ball,
    Could a Plain Belly get in the game? Not at all.
    You only could play if your bellies had stars
    And the Plain-Belly children had none upon thars.

    When the Star Belly Sneetches had frankfurter roasts
    Or picnics or parties or marshmallow toasts,
    They never invited the Plain-Belly Sneetches
    They left them out cold, in the dark of the beaches.
    They kept them away. Never let them come near.
    And that’s how they treated them year after year.

  4. #14
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    There's a very old saying (you can judge how old by the language and the use of the word "queer" in it's original meaning)

    "All the world is queer but thee and me and sometimes I wonder about thee."

    Each person has their own idea of what normal is and no two are the same.

  5. #15
    Low Tech grunt iris lily's Avatar
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    DH and I, both introverted (me more so than he is) live in an abnormall neighborhood where people get involved in many neighborhood improvement projects, and through these get to know a large number of people.

    If we lived in the normal places we would be socializing 1/3 of the time that we do now. As it is, I've cut back on socializing because some of our best friends have moved, because I am doing too much gardening, because I don't do many neighborhood projects any more.

    Still, we know a fair number of people. Whenever we go to an event outside of our neighborhood I play a game called "find someone we know." This week we went to to a Republican fundraiser out in the county. Rand Paul was speaking and it drew a crowd from all over the state. Bored in the lead up to it, I told DH "I'm going to circle the room and find someone we know." This may not be the action of an introvert, but I can chat up anyone that I know for a short time. I circled the room twice, didn't find anyone we know (except for politicians, they don't count.) I couldn't believe it, it's the first time that game had failed! Later, after the event was over and people were disbursing, we ran into one of our neighbors, a Tea Party guy. So, the game did work after all.

    Last spring we attended a fundraiser for Circus Flora. Finding someone I know wasn't hard at all since neighbors on our block and other friends attended. But one person there looked very familiar but I couldn't remember his name, and I wasn't sure where I knew him from. So when I walked up to him with my usual line: I know you. Do you live in The Square? his answer was no, he used lived in The Square 12 years ago. As we talked, come to find out that it was his house that our close friends bought a dozen years ago.

    All of this just proves my long held belief that Lafayette Square is the epicenter of metropolitan St. Louis and perhaps the world.
    Last edited by iris lily; 5-4-13 at 9:13pm.

  6. #16
    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jilly View Post
    Kestrel, that is me, too.

    It is reassuring to hear that others think it does not truly exist.
    I could have written Kestrel's response, too. DW calls me a "high-functioning Introvert" in that I can get along in pretty much any social situation so long as I know it's coming, there's a modicum of personal interest in being there, and I have time to "recover" afterwards. Sometimes (okay, often) I have to push myself a little to go to such functions, yet I usually have a pretty good time of it once I get there. It helps that DW also is an introvert and does not need to be the life of the party.

    SQ, the social-anxiety issues you are facing can be addressed. You can learn how to make conversation (tip: ask a leading question and let the other person just run with it). The key, though, is that you have to want to learn. It's like changing any other habit. If relieving some social anxiety also relieves some personal anxiety, so much the better. And it won't be like hitting a switch, the same way overweight people don't become thin overnight. If you choose to change, there is a continuum of behaviors which will be comfortable to you, maybe for a moment; maybe for years. That's okay.

    One of my favorite quotes comes from Douglas Adams' "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy": "We have achieved normality -- whatever that is."

    [EDIT] I don't mean for this post to be a "fix-it" post -- just an illustration (from my experience) that not only is severe introversion possible, but if there's an interest in doing so, the effects of that introversion can be minimized somewhat.
    Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome. - Booker T. Washington

  7. #17
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    I am an introvert who can pretend to be an extrovert a lot of the time but I love to spend time alone without making plans to see anyone or do anything with anybody. I just had two days off in a row and made no plans with anyone, but I really don't have anyone to makes plans with anymore. I have been isolating and being quite the recluse this past winter, just going to work and sometimes going out to an open mic to play my guitar. When I get to places there a lot of people I *know* and can sit with, but I don't really like conversing or hanging around. I just can't do it anymore and I don't know why. I jsut don't know where I fit in anymore...I haven't been feeling depressed or anything; I think I just don't like to socialize but I have been getting a little lonely lately as the weather warms up.
    I really don't like most socializing, it's like there's nothing in it for me (there are some exceptions). It feels like overwhelming effort, like I view I should socialize like some might view: I should go the gym, or I should work on my taxes (not always overt fear - but more drudgery). Fear it could be, but it manifests as overwhelming boredom. I don't always plan my time off well, because I'm so exhausted by the time I get to days off. I'm burned out. Maybe socializing bores everyone this way but they are just more disciplined (just like some people have never had to file a tax extension!)

    I came from a family of loners and introverts; my parents never really had friends over and our family was pretty insular.
    This I relate to the most, my family exactly.

    It's true the end result of it is spending much of one's time alone, no two ways about that one.
    Trees don't grow on money

  8. #18
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    I think normal went from general society morals, to a concept tv pushes/advertises at people. They try to interchange average, with normal, even though they are not the same thing.

  9. #19
    Senior Member SiouzQ.'s Avatar
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    You summed it up pretty well for me, ApatheticNoMore. I am pretty exhausted when I get off work and the chore of trying to be social is just too much anymore. Just going any where after work on most days is too much anymore. I plan my days and week around when I work which varies, A LOT. I never know if I am going to have the energy to go out and do something so I don't plan anything, I just wait and see what I feel like doing, and sometimes it's doing absolutely nothing.

    I just fear with the way things are going that I will not have any friends left at all...

  10. #20
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    Do not worry, there are other introverts in the world. Connect with those in your social group who are introverts, and you'll understand each other and it'll be fine if there's no hang-out for 4 years.

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