Through the Prism

After passing through the prism, each refraction contains some pure essence of the light, but only an incomplete part. We will always experience some aspect of reality, of the Truth, but only from our perspectives as they are colored by who and where we are. Others will know a different color and none will see the whole, complete light. These are my musings from my particular refraction.

5.12.2006

Number 18 Expanded

Near the end of Sue Ellen's party Saturday night, she started examining the group dynamics and commented that the introverts and extroverts were fairly evenly distributed instead of hanging together as usually happens. When asked, she started listing the obvious introverts. I was not one, which surprised me--I've rated extremely introverted in every personality test (Myers-Briggs, etc) I've ever taken and certainly perceive myself that way. I said I should be included on the list, since introverted is not the same as shy and quiet, but she wasn't so sure. As evidence she held up the fact that at her last party I went into the quiet room and started breaking them up. Huh. Did I do that? I wouldn't do that, would I? Surely I'm empathetic to their desire to escape people and the requirement to constantly socialize. I would expect so, anyway. But it's gotten me thinking.

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Jim Ryun had a relatively short but brilliant career as a runner in 60s. He was the first high schooler to ever break 4 minutes in the mile and for a while held the world record at that distance as well as the half mile. I've read what he did for his workouts, and they were massive. No wonder he couldn't keep it up forever. One of the other things I read that's stuck with me was a training technique he used. I'm sure everyone can relate to getting to that point when exercising (even if some reach it more quickly than others) when your body says, "Enough. You're pushing me to my limits and you must slow down or I will give out." Ryun said that whenever he got that signal he would basically say, "In your face," and speed up. He would push through the moment with a bit of mind over matter until he trained his body to go for more. I'm not after any world records so I've not really adopted it for my workouts, but it's a principle that's stuck with me: when your instinct is to back off, push harder.

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I transferred to a new high school my sophomore year. I was quiet and shy and didn't make friends very quickly. Lunches were awkward because I didn't know anyone to sit with. Somewhere along the line I adopted a group to eat with. After a couple of weeks a guy wanted to join us but all the seats were taken. "Why didn't you save me a seat?" he asked a friend. "Why'd you let this guy [pointing at me] sit here instead of me?" "He's bigger than me," was the reply. "I'm not gonna make him move." I had thought I was making new friends, but I realized then that I hadn't said a single word the entire time I'd been eating with them and no one had ever spoken directly to me. I was just kind of peripherally a part of the group, silently observing their interactions.

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The above is just one example of my general high school experience. I didn't say a lot and didn't interact with too many people. I don't know that I ever made a conscious decision, but somewhere along the line during my college years I started working to become less shy. I suppose I've succeeded, because now people doubt my introverted-ness. I still think of myself as the quiet, nice guy--kind of the way I see Captain Barbarossa--but have to admit I'm more assertive and outspoken now. The thing is, while there were many things about being withdrawn (and awkward) that I didn't like, I never doubted my niceness. Now I constantly wonder if I've said something I shouldn't have, if I'm selfishly seeking attention or missing the flow of the conversation or making a fool of myself or, worst of all, saying something offensive or hurtful. I used to worry that people wouldn't like me because they didn't notice me or know me; now I worry because maybe they do.

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