You're just different.
Normal? Who is normal? I spent almost 50 years as a therapist and realized that the patients I had were much more stable and more realistic than most of the people walking by my office and not coming in. Or, is “normal” the person who accepts being a cog in the machine and a brick in the wall, and knows how to go along to get along.
To quote Paul Simon:
"And I don't know a soul who's not been battered
I don't have a friend who feels at ease
I don't know a dream that's not been shattered
Or driven to its knees"
And that was in 1984. Things are much worse now.
I don't not like to talk, so I'm going to relay a email conversation I had with a friend on Facebook about a year ago. He asked me if I was happy. I replied happiness is fleeting, a temporary thing, like when your favorite sports team wins a game or Indiana Jones saves the day. I prefer 'content.' Content is a state of mind, a balance between being angry and aware. That is a much more realistic view.
Oh, Jessica. This touches my heart. I'm an old retired art teacher who had classes filled with the people you describe. They were the "outsiders, the "uncool," the quiet or quirky ones. They were the creative, the wildly individualistic, the surprising and definitely the most interesting kids I had. I learned a lot from them.
They were direct and honest for the most part. Unlikeable? Only if the whole goal is to be in some shallow clique.
I find your writing very refreshing and thought-provoking. I'm listening because I believe you have a great deal to say that I have been trying to learn.
I'm glad you're doing you authentically.
perfection from beginning to end
I needed to see this today, thank you.
Your writing inspires my own. As your essay popped up in my email this morning I was working on this piece, which seemed at least tangentially related. I'm not sure it makes sense, but I've only one cup of coffee on board.
There are 8+ billion humans on this planet, each one unique. There are an estimated 8+ million species of plants, animals, and fungi, of which only about 1-2 million have been identified. That seems to be rather a lot of diversity.
In “I Contain Multitudes” Ed Yong writes “there are more bacteria in your gut than there are stars in our galaxy.” “We are made of around 30 trillion human cells and 39 trillion microbial ones.” We are not who we think we are.
As above, so below. Each of us is a universe of organisms. The Earth is an organism on a larger scale, in which we are microbes of the Earth. The Earth is a microbe of the Milky Way, which is a microbe of the Universe, which is a …?
Our fellow microbes, those within and those around us, are all sentient, in their own unique way, and contain their own universe of organisms and sub-atomic particles. An anthropocentric view obscures the experiences of these creature’s worlds, their form of thought and feeling veiled to us. That constricted awareness does nothing to diminish the experience or significance of all these universes intertwined with ours.
Like it or not, our thoughts, feelings, actions affect both macro and micro universes around us, just as those microbes in our guts affect our thoughts and feelings, and just as the society, environment, climate we live in do.
As it turns out, our notion of “self” may be all in our mind. The ventral medial prefrontal cortex of the brain is where the concept of self as an individual develops. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-our-brain-preserves-our-sense-of-self/
The notion of “self”, of independent individualism, may be a miscalculation, and ultimately a fatal one. Think about if the microbes in our gut were acting in harmony towards the most sustainable environment possible. Compare that with those microbes acting only in their own interest or of their particular species, with no regard to sustainability. The dictations of the societies we create, at least the current ones, are based on mining individualism for resources to be exploited for the benefit of a few. Some of the past Indigenous societies offer examples that we are capable of supporting uniqueness while working together to benefit the universes around us. As above, so below.
Have you read Jim Sinclair’s “Don’t Mourn For Us” essay? It’s written for the parents of autistic children but I’ve found it really cathartic myself. Part of the message is that we (autistic people) are already working hard enough. Non-autistic people could try working to understand us for a change.
My piece for Monday draws on it--but I’ve also been thinking about Sinclair’s argument quite a bit in some more philosophical work I’ve been doing on empathy. And how it’s not autistic people who lack empathy 😉
Anyhow, loved this. Thank you for writing it. ♥️
You are one of my favorite writers, and I aspire to write with the skill and passion you do. The post title is something my mom tells me at least once a week when I can't grasp people's irrationality and hypocrisy and say, "Am I the problem?". I have ADHD, and throughout my life have been accused of being "bad at reading social cues", "too serious", "too intense", "too judgmental", and "expecting too much". Regarding the last one, I always think, "well, it feels like too much is expected of me routinely, but I can't say it's too much without being criticized". I wish whenever someone says this to me I could pull out this post and demand they read it, (although most wouldn't be bothered). LOL. This post touched me and as always, came at the right time. :)
Sometimes a writer grabs me so intensely I literally can't stop reading until their words end. You probably don't know how many people deeply admire your courage.
And also, you wrote a book?
Is it out?
Thank you Jessica🙏
This is unquestionably the best description of the introvert's life that I have ever read. I wish your book was not just on Kindle. I would very happily pay a more normal book price to you directly if you were willing to provide a copy in any other form. I adore your articles, every one.
The are more articles in the news about how young adults shouldn’t want to buy houses they can't afford anyway. It’s much better to rent, or pay off someone else’s mortgage, than to have any equity or stability. It's so much more flexible, or easier to move to a poorer neighborhood when you inevitably have to.
I teach an ESL class on Saturdays and showed my wallet as an example of "fixing" something. It's a black wallet and had a tiny tear, so I fixed it with black duct tape. A few students joked that maybe I should buy a new one, but I was so happy when a new, younger student said "Why buy a new one? It still work(s). The tape is cheap."
This is a 19-year old kid already working 50 to 60 hours a week who saved up a few hundred dollars so he could learn English. Two students commute over two hours each way.
I should not have taken this job. I already work too much and I should have let someone who needs the money take it, but it's one of the only things left that makes me feel good about myself. Maybe I was the best applicant available for this term, but a kid like that is going to learn no matter who's teaching.
I'm a fortunate type in that I have never cared who does or doesn't like me. In return I am happy to say those that do like me tend to be very likeable (and intelligent) humans.
On smiling, I truly thought all of that smile therapy BS was debuked 20 or 30 years ago.
"If we study a topic and learn a lot about it, we’ll share it with the ones who really care."
I love that statement and just recently discovered the same tactic. I would get frustrated with people that didn't listen to something I spent countless hours studying and learning. Now, I don't really care if they listen or none. I realize they are just mentally lazy and it is their loss.
Thank you from the depths of my heart for articulating something I have felt so deeply, especially lately.
I love reading your stuff. I’m a Gen X who doesn’t fit the mold and what you say resonates with me. I also have polar opposite kids so this helps me to help them. Thank you!