When you discover that you are missing something essential to the success you seek, you can react a number of ways. I’m currently working on fixing one of my issues. If you knew me, you’d know that I’m not the most social person around. As a matter of fact, I’m actually pretty comfortable being by myself. I would always explain it to others by saying that I revel in solitude but even I’m having trouble seeing that as nothing more than an excuse to be antisocial. I’m beginning to see this personality trait as the social “inefficiency” it is, so it’s time to do something.
I’ve always appreciated a comfortable distance between me and those around me. Most of the circles I find myself in, I notice that I have nothing in common with them. I’m in a fantasy football league, but I’m not that big of a fan. I used to play video games with friends, but now I seem to have lost interest in them. I relocated to a different region of the country and yet the only friends I’ve made are my colleagues at work but I don’t socialize outside of work. I’m so put off by useless “small talk” that when I’m in an elevator I pretend to be texting just so I won’t have to hold a conversation with others around me. One of my favorite things to do in the world is visit art galleries, but I don’t do that anymore because I don’t want to engage or be engaged in conversation with strangers, even those that share my interest in art. I’ve noticed myself withdrawing and becoming what I term a “Social Claustrophobic.” I’m not yet sure if I’ve actually suffered from this condition, but I now recognize my children avoiding interaction and more importantly competition, which, I think is essential to developing self confidence and humility. I am now wanting to change, not because of what I’m missing per se, but because of what they might miss.
I remember being in my teens and being terrified at the thought of hanging out with people. “What would I say to them?”, I thought, when I would get invited by a friend to attend an event or just go for a drive. I had no idea how to respond to the opposite sex in a social environment and there was no one to help me get over this fear so I morphed into being a loner. I thought it was just good ole fashioned teenage boy nerves around the opposite sex and while some of it could be explained that way, I was just as nervous and unwilling around other boys. I was encouraged by my parents to just go hang out and be myself and in my teens, that sounded like bad advice. The older I got, the more I could justify not socializing. It actually became my thing in my 20’s. I was the tall, dark and enigmatic guy. The antisocial “artsy” type that women wanted to explore and get to know. I was a hit with the ladies who wanted a challenge, but I missed out on opportunities to get to know others who just wanted to have a conversation.
Now my work and my schedule justify my distance from people and I’m smart enough to be able to disguise it as being really busy all the time when in reality, I am a bit lonely. It’s no big deal really…I can handle my loneliness, I’ve grown accustomed to it, but I don’t want my sons to miss out on opportunities because they are following my pattern. I would rather inspire them to build relationships their entire life and to constantly cultivate them. It will make them better people in the long run, I’m convinced of it. And it’s not too late for me. I live near one of the culturally richest areas in the country, Washington, DC. and I fully intend to spread my wings and get out there and interact with people. I too can be a better person. I’ve just gotta make a little effort and start by just being myself.