What is the Most Surprising Thing About You?

Friday, the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium tackled the topic: “What is the most surprising thing about you?” Eight other bloggers – Ramana (aka Rummuser), Ashokgaelikaa, Lin, Maxi, PadmumShackman and The Old Fossil – write on the same topic every Friday (loosely speaking – after all, here am I, and it is – arguably  – Tuesday). I encourage you to drop by the others’ blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic.

The question is surprisingly difficult for me to answer. What is the most surprising thing about me? I must confess that after living with myself for just over half a century, there’s not much that surprises me about me. Open book that I am, I’d be surprised if there’s anything left to surprise you with, for that matter.

Maybe the thing that surprises most people about me is to learn that I’m an introvert. I can do a decent imitation of an extrovert for short periods of time, but it’s not who I am. I am an introvert – which is not at all the same as “shy” or “antisocial.” I really do enjoy spending time with my family and friends, but group activities – parties, for example – can be quickly overstimulating and exhausting. At least online, you expect it to be a little asynchronous – if I suddenly vanish in the middle of a chat, I don’t have to explain that I need a little “quiet time” like a toddler who has hit a wall and needs a nap. Extroverts are energized by others; introverts are like batteries that have been drained by overuse and need at least an hour or two to recharge, or they start producing brain static like an old TV. We prefer “depth over breadth,” and are a bit confused when too many people and things are coming at us all at once.

I must fake it well, though – people who’ve known me for years, including my dad, are skeptical – or were, initially. “YOU? An introvert? No way. You are so not an introvert.” I just smile and mentally hide under the stairs with a good book and a few of my imaginary friends – who all know better than to talk to me while I’m reading. Ahh, now you know where I go when I daydream. There are many nooks and crannies in my imagination…

My mother – who majored in Psychology and Early Childhood Education – once remarked that she worried, when I was little, that I might be autistic. I also suspect that, had I been born a couple of decades later, more than one of my teachers would have recommended I be put on ADD meds. “Doesn’t pay attention, doesn’t follow directions” was a common theme on my report cards. The fact was, I was so absorbed by the world inside my head that I appeared not to pay attention – although I generally had excellent recall, if pressed to repeat what the teacher had said. Ironically, I spent most of my career writing technical documentation and documenting processes. It all seems to work out, in the end, which is exactly what my mother concluded, early on – she said, “It didn’t seem to interfere with you getting anything done; I finally decided that if you were autistic, you were high-functioning enough I just wasn’t going to worry about it anymore.”

So, who knows? Writing this, it occurred to me that she might have been on to something. I decided to look a little deeper, and did a search for “introversion autism spectrum.” This theory that my mother had about me – more than forty years ago – seems to be gaining some credibility in the field, today. According to a 2011 article in Psychology Today, “A Theory About Introversion, Extroversion, and Autism,” there’s a researcher named Jennifer O. Grimes who believes that introversion is a trait on the autism spectrum, and not merely the opposite of extroversion. That makes more sense – because I’ve never felt exactly the opposite of extroverted. I can be “outgoing, sociable, enthusiastic, and relatively impulsive” in small doses.  I just need some down time and recovery, afterwards. That said, when I was in 9th grade, a nun called me “too introspective.” You know there’s a problem when a nun says you’re “too introspective.” Hey, I was just enthusiastically sharing all my impulsive, social adventures in the real world with the unicorn in the back yard of my inner imagination – it only looked like I was vapidly staring out the window. My teacher was so rudely interrupting the conversation…

Grimes’s thesis, “INTROVERSION AND AUTISM: A CONCEPTUAL EXPLORATION OF THE PLACEMENT OF INTROVERSION ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM” is interesting – and much of what I’ve read so far (not all of it, as I only just found it a few minutes ago) resonates with me.

But really…

Who am I to answer the question, “What’s the most surprising thing about me?” What do you find most surprising, if anything?

 

Please don’t say, “That you can walk, talk, and chew gum at the same time.” I’m not very good at chewing gum.

HollyJahangiri

Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle; A Puppy, Not a Guppy; Innocents & Demons; and A New Leaf for Lyle. You can find her books on Amazon at http://amazon.com/author/hollyjahangiri. For more information on her children's books, please visit http://jahangiri.us/books.
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12 thoughts on “What is the Most Surprising Thing About You?”

  1. As usual, I enjoyed reading your blog. I find out so much new about you with all of your writings! You never cease to amaze me!

  2. Though I am not a regular reader of your blog, having recently discovered it, or should I say bothered to look for it, I have read your thoughts and ideas via Facebook posts.

    I enjoy the way you express yourself, and I am amazed with the wide range of topics thatyou enjoy and read about. I used to think I was prolific, but jeez…
    Rasheed Hooda recently posted…You Gotta WannaMy Profile

  3. Surprising thing about you or about me? The most surprising thing about you is the curiosity you have on things like introversion autism spectrum or Jennifer Grimes in trying to explain your childhood, which ended up with you being accelerated and graduating college at a young age. lol

    The surprising thing about me… I have to admit that’s a scary one. I could say that I’m still alive but that would be a bit melodramatic. That I’m not rich; that’s too depressing because I know a lot of people who think I am (but I’m not). That I’m not all that brave on way too many things, yet when my back is up against the wall have accomplished some very intriguing things. That I haven’t killed someone else… nah, that would have been when I was much younger with a temper I barely kept in check.

    I’ll go with being married… yeah, that’ll be the one since I never asked any of the women I had a relationship with out first. You wouldn’t believe the number of surprised people. lol
    Mitch Mitchell recently posted…5 Ways To Be Better On Social MediaMy Profile

    1. Heh…like I said, I’m high functioning. 😉

      I’m glad you’re still alive. You’re rich enough – not to fulfill your financial goals, maybe, but you have your wife and your health and you’ll get there. You also have a really nice back yard; I’ll bet it’d further your goals and do you a world of good to walk out there in the woods more often.

      I’m glad you never killed anyone. 🙂 Getting the temper in check is part of being an adult, and a man. You seem, to me, one of the more easy-going people I know – so while I’m not exactly surprised to hear you have a temper, I’m always a little surprised to hear you say how much of one you had when you were younger. But I have a friend locally who’s much the same, and we’ve talked at some length about it – and I think I can sympathize.

      My husband can probably relate to what you finally settled on as “most surprising.” He once said he planned to wait till he was 30. Hah. I accelerated that plan by 5 years. Seriously – can you imagine? We’d only have been married 25 years, now, if he’d been left entirely to his own devices. 😉

    1. I think that’s part of the point of Grimes’ thesis – that introversion and extroversion exist as separate, interdependent traits – that they are not opposite ends of the SAME spectrum, as is popularly imagined.

      So far, I can really relate to what I’m reading there, but kind of resent implications that this is “abnormal.” As if we have to be “fixed” in order to be more “sociable” and suit others’ social preferences. 🙂 And as for “communication deficits,” I see that I have communication strengths and weaknesses; I write well, but I don’t feel as comfortable with extemporaneous speaking or crafting charts and graphs. I know extroverts who are good at those things, but can’t write three coherent paragraphs into a sentence. The world needs us all, and I don’t see one as “better” or “worse” until they put each other on the defensive about it.

  4. Hey Holly,

    Yeah, you’ve surprised me! I wouldn’t have thought that introvert would be a part of you but I’m glad to know that’s where you land on the spectrum. (It doesn’t matter to me where you land, just glad to know a bit more about you.)

    Not long ago, I discovered Pam Weber’s blog (patricia-weber.com, do you know her?) about introverts an in answering some question she’d put forth, further discovered that what you call “faking it” for short periods of time, she calls “ambivert.” Well!

    That would be you … and me … ambivert. I think that would surprise most folk I know, both online and offline (in social and business venues). Like you, I need time to recharge (and will disappear to get what I need). I’m not big on imaginary friends but hiding in plain sight is a specialty.

    About once a year, I read something about autism, aspergers, etc., so I’ll add Grime’s paper to my 2015 reading on the subject. 🙂

    Thanks for the surprise today. (I don’t like surprises all that much either — that’s not so much about introvertism as it is about being a control freak — but this one was nice! LOL)
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    1. Hi, Vernessa! I’m never really sure if “ambivert” is the right term for me, which is why the notion of “extrovert” traits and “introvert” traits being on separate spectra made sense to me. Someone sent me a link – one of those “You may be an ambivert if …” kinds of posts, not anything as scientific as Grimes’s thesis – and I didn’t relate to it at all. But I relate 10/10 to the ones describing introverts. I used to say “I’m an introvert who likes people. In small, controlled doses.” (I really do like people – I just need to recharge and maybe hide behind the sofa, like a cat, for a while. 😉 ) I know extroverts who do NOT particularly like people. They are just energy creatures who seem to need a crowd. But I do know a lot of us supposed “ambiverts” (I shouldn’t just the term by a few “You may be an ambivert if…” posts, should I!? It’s a convenient shorthand for “mostly functional in any realm, with a strong preference for retreating to a cave filled with good books and solitude, on a regular basis.”)

      EVERY one of these applies: http://www.buzzfeed.com/jenniferschaffer/yes-im-outgoing-but-secretly-im-shy#.vb6k7jZwz

      THIS, except for 3, 4, 6, 13, 14 (I’m not shy, nor intimidated by anyone – although, if you read the comment below the picture, if this is about having a point and making it, then wondering why anyone insists on filling the air with small talk, yes): http://www.buzzfeed.com/jessicamisener/awkward-moments-every-introvert-understands#.elnLnpRw5 (23 – OMG, I’m SO busted…but really close friends understand and coax me out from behind the sofa till I reluctantly go and have a good time).

      Totally – everything on this list (but it has repeats for emphasis, I guess): http://www.buzzfeed.com/erinlarosa/problems-only-introverts-will-understand#.rqlv5ned0

  5. No, I’m not shy or intimidated or scared or anti-social … I like this one, got a good chuckle: “When someone asks, “Are you OK? Why are you so quiet?” for the zillionth time.”

    I want to say (well, actually I have said to various people at one time or another), “is it okay to just be QUIET, to think, to not talk incessantly …”

    Haha, a lot of them resonate with me.

    Geez, I like solitude. But I so enjoy public speaking, too.
    Vernessa Taylor recently posted…Too Much Paper? Adopt A Managed Print Services MindsetMy Profile

    1. I’m not sure I “enjoy” public speaking, but I don’t think I’d mind it as much as presenting to a small group. Something I learned during my brief stint as a theater major – you can almost be alone on a stage. Especially if there’s lighting in your face and you can’t see anyone out there.

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