Southern Man

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ten Myths About Southern Man

Surfing the 'net this afternoon led Southern Man to this post on The Anchoress (who in turn references this post at Carl Kingdom (as you can see Southern Man is most fastidious with his references (as well as with his deeply nested parentheses))) which was entitled (in case you haven't tired of this very long sentence and clicked it already) "Ten Myths About Introverts." And what caught Southern Man's attention was the very first comment in that first post in which "Jenny" laments that she always tested as INTJ or "as my professor strongly implied, all the wrong types." After picking himself up the floor from laughing Southern Man (who almost always tests as INTJ with a soft N but with I, T, and J hard against the wall) took pause to reflect on the Ten Myths and how they applied to his own life.

Now Southern Man has long known that he was quite introverted (or "reserved," as he prefers to say) which means, in a nutshell, that he is drained by social interaction and energized by solitude. That doesn't mean he doesn't like to socialize - quite the opposite - but he prefers his socialization in small doses and with relatively small groups, and the solitude of The Land always leaves him refreshed. Southern Man has also long known that he was more rational and considerably less emotional than most folks. In post-divorce reconciliation counseling with the incomparable Dr. Jim Talley Southern Man and his ex-wife took some fairly comprehensive personality tests that showed (among other things) that Southern Man was about three standard deviations off the norm on the objective side and his ex was something like 99% subjective (a combination which explained a lot of our communications issues) and we talked quite a bit about how our different personality types had contributed to our marital difficulties. Introverted, rational, unemotional - is it any surprise that Southern Man found himself in careers that emphasize structure and order and inflexible rules and logic? Or from the age of ten or so began a lifelong fascination with Mr. Spock? But the qualities that make him a terrific computer science professor and Star Trek trivia expert are rather a hindrance when it comes to social interaction and relationships.

So Southern Man will imitate The Anchoress and riff off (not "rip off") the Ten Myths as posted by Carl Kingdom.

Myth #1 – Southern Man doesn't like to talk.
This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. And Southern Man hates small talk; he does not do phone chit-chat well at all (just ask teen daughter). But get Southern Man talking about something he's interested in (Star Trek, or geocaching, or politics, or his dreams for The Land...) and you can hardly get him to shut up.

Myth #2 – Southern Man is shy.
Shyness has nothing to do with being introverted, but Southern Man needs a reason to interact. If you want to talk to Southern Man, just start talking. And don’t worry about being polite; he'd be so focused on content that he probably wouldn't notice anyway.

Myth #3 – Southern Man is rude and uncaring and cold and unfeeling.
Southern Man doesn't see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries so people whose communication is more emotion-based (Southern Sister comes to mind) finds Southern Man to be downright heartless. Indeed, she has mentioned Southern Man and Asberger's Syndrome in the same sentence many a time. And Southern Man admits that his preferred mode of communication is not the best choice in many settings and he often feels a lot of pressure change the way he communicates so that he can better fit in, which is one reason that he finds social interaction so exhausting. So this one occasionally seems to be true but he's working on it. But the truth is while introverts may seem this way their love and emotions run very deep and very strong; they just struggle to express them.

Myth #4 – Southern Man doesn't like people.
On the contrary, introverts intensely value the few friends they have; however, they can usually count their close friends on the fingers of one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend then you probably have a friend for life. When it comes to relationships introverts (and Southern Man) are serially monogamous; they focus (often intently) on one person at a time, which makes the ending of relationships particularly painful. Another downside of his introverted nature is that Southern Man's social circle is fairly thin. He's working on it.

Myth #5 – Southern Man doesn't like to go out in public.
Nonsense. Southern Man just doesn't like to go out in public for as long as extroverts. Twelve-year-old daughter knows this well; by the end of an outing she's just warming up when Southern Man is ready to return home and recharge. Introverts also like to avoid the complications that are involved in public activities; they take in data and experiences very quickly and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it” - they’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for introverts like Southern Man.

Myth #6 – Southern Man always wants to be alone.
Southern Man is content with his own company and comfortable with his own thoughts. He thinks (and plans, and daydreams) a lot and he loves to have problems to work on or programs to write or puzzles to solve. But introverts can also get incredibly lonely if they don’t have anyone to share their discoveries with. While Southern Man considers himself off the dating market at this time a part of him craves an authentic and sincere connection with the one person with whom he can share his thoughts and dreams. And he would love that person with a depth that few extroverts could match. Sadly, at his age this will probably not happen and he's working to accept it and move on. That's quite a challenge for someone who's been in long-term relationships almost continuously since high school.

Myth #7 – Southern Man is weird.
Introverts are often individualists. They don’t follow the crowd and prefer to be valued for their novel ways of living. They think for themselves and because of that they often challenge the norm and they don’t make decisions based on what is popular or trendy. Southern Man's plan for the next five years, which involve improvements to The Land and living out there to the greatest extent possible, are not what most men think about. And Southern Man doesn't care one whit.

Myth #8 – Southern Man is an aloof nerd.
Geek, perhaps, but not nerd. Introverts are people who primarily look inward and paying close attention to their thoughts and emotions. It’s not that they are incapable of paying attention to what is going on around them, it’s just that their inner world is much more stimulating and rewarding to them. Southern Man often catches himself lost in that inner world (particularly when dreaming of what he wants The Land to become someday) and must work hard to bring himself back to reality - and then do something in the real world to bring that dream closer to reality.

Myth #9 – Southern Man doesn't know how to relax and have fun.
Southern Man typically relaxes at home or outdoors or at The Land rather than in busy public venues. And like many introverts Southern Man can spend an hour at a big party standing in a corner talking to a few people and be having a great time. And Southern Man is getting better and better at relaxing and enjoying himself during the day; he's rarely as stressed out as he once was, and that's a Good Thing.

Myth #10 – With therapy and medication Southern Man could become a perfectly normal person.
Why? Southern Man is content with the way he is!

And there you have it - ten myths about Southern Man, dispelled for your pleasure. Read them carefully; to know him is to love him!


At Thursday, December 15, 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Food for Thought...hmmmm.

There is nothing wrong in being an introvert

At Thursday, December 15, 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was volunteering for the Stephen Ministry program, I was required to take that Myers-Briggs personality test. I tested near the center for all 4 axes. I guess that makes me boring.

What I do know for certain is that I absolutely hate this sort of thing. It gives people one more reason to stick you in a category and expect you to live up to it.
This is because, growing up in the 50's, I was in the "girl" category, which everyone knew meant I couldn't do math. I still run across this shit! Never mind much evidence to the contrary, including a PhD in computer science.

Also, people try to categorize me because of my age and religion, and they are usually 100% wrong.
I hate categories. I hate generalizations. I hate personality tests.

One thing I totally agree with you about...I hate people that think they know me better than I do! I've been me for 60 years. I have a lot of experience with me!

Girl Programmer.

At Thursday, December 15, 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I stand and applaud you Girl! I hate being put in a box. Nothing about me "fits" in a box. I tire of being told this is "where" I fit or "this" is my whatever...

I am me. I do not apologize or make excuses any more.


At Thursday, December 15, 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can a teacher be an introvert?


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