I am an Awkward Introvert and It’s Still Not Cool

There was a review in the newspaper recently(I think the Washington Post) for this book

Apparently it is now cool to be socially awkward. This is after the recent book Quiet and the movement that made people think it was cool to be an introvert. Suddenly, everyone was an introvert. The Internet was full if articles about introverts. People were sharing them declaring themselves an introvert. Based on the activity I saw on Facebook there are no extroverts on the planet. Of course, this isn’t true. I’m sure many of the people declaring themselves introverts were actual introverts I’m also sure many of the people were extroverts jumping on the introvert bandwagon. Blockbuster superhero movies, new Star Wars movies, new Star Trek movies, dreck like The Big Bang Theory, etc have made it more mainstream to like things that used to make you a nerd.  The above book now puts the socially awkward in the cool column.

Now, speaking as someone who has been a socially awkward introvert my entire life, I don’t buy the cool thing. Sure, some socially awkward nerds make it big and enter the cool category, but many of us are still just awkward people who tend to stand in a corner alone at a party. I don’t want to be an introvert. I would rather be someone who enjoys being with other people. I don’t want to be socially awkward. I would rather be someone who can attend a party or a social event at a conference and mingle like a normal person. I wasn’t cool in high school, I wasn’t cool in college and I’m not suddenly cool now because the socially awkward have been declared cool. I think my socially awkward introvert culture has been hijacked by people who have always been the “cool kids” and now are “socially awkward” or an introvert because that’s the new in thing.  This cycle will eventually end. It will once again be cool to be an extrovert and at ease in social situations and the cool kids will abandon us once again.

Trust me. Being me is not cool.

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One Is The Loneliest Number

Note – this post is more personal and introspective than usual. You should read it fast before I have second thoughts and delete it.

A friend on Facebook shared an article this weekend that said the biggest threat facing middle aged men is loneliness. While I am surprised that people think it is the biggest threat facing middle aged men, I’m not surprised that middle aged men are lonely. I am a middle aged man. I think I was born a middle aged man. Loneliness has been a constant in my life. I can be in the middle of a crowd, at a party, etc and still feel alone. I have many acquaintances and not many actual friends. I talk to people at work and then to the two people who live in my house and that is the extent of my social life. I do occasionally have a text conversation with my brother.

In person, I pretend a lot of times that I think I am someone that everyone loves, but really, deep down, I always assume I am someone that people don’t really think about at all. I’ve always felt that way. I was part of a social group in high school, but felt that I was the one who didn’t really belong. I felt the same with groups in college and I feel the same today. In every group, I feel like I am the expendable one. I have social anxiety when it comes to parties and other gatherings, so I would rather just not go. This leads to the life referenced above. I spend most of my life isolated from the world. It’s OK now while my family is there, but I am looking toward a lot of alone time when my daughter leaves for college next year.

Another problem is that I have always had more female friends than male friends. I now work in a world that is predominantly women. In the one group I socialize with on a regular basis(I am the expendable one) I am the only man. This also is a limit to developing close friendships. It is harder and more complicated when the friendship is across genders. You always have to be aware of any impressions of impropriety and there are limits on what you can discuss from your personal life.

So, no, I’m not shocked that loneliness is a problem for middle aged men. I would like to say that since I am aware of the issue that I can take steps to do something about it, but that would be a lie. I will continue to spend my time watching TV and reading books when my family is not around. It just seems easier that way.