Me, Me, Me, Monday: Eff Off, I Don’t Want To Join In!

Oh, Gods...make them all go away!

Being social wears me out.  Crowds at Hellmart wear me out.  Parties wear me out.  Interaction with more than five people in one room…you guessed it…wears me out. 

I don’t get anxious or have anxiety attacks, I just get tired and irritable.  I need to be alone to recharge my batteries.  I try to get away from all social situations before this happens.  *I* don’t want to be around me once I’ve reached this point.  When I do, I look for an escape route.  An excuse to leave. 

If you’ve ever seen this happen, it’s probably because you have an introvert in your life.  Or you are one.

For a while, I thought there was something wrong with me.  I grew up as an outsider, never feeling quite like I belonged.  I spent my time walking or riding my bike alone, reading, engaging in long imaginings and getting lost in daydreams. 

After a day of talking to people about work stuff on the phone, I’m worn out.  I usually arrive home and need an hour to decompress.  Alone.

I thought that I was supposed to LIKE interacting with groups of people.  But it’s just not my nature.  And since you’re reading my blog, it might not be in yours either.

Commercial media and advertising would have you believe that not being social is abnormal.  Turn on any cable channel and watch; you’ll see what I mean.  It starts early;  advertisements for children’s toys portray the toy being played with in the company of other children.  Commercials for kid’s foods always show a group of children…because social eating is cool and eating alone is just sad, right?

As an adult, we are supposed to buy products which prepare us to be social (clean up the house for guests, make dinner for a group, throw a holiday or Super Bowl party, have a bar-b-que), or for when we are being social (beer, snack foods, scented candles to impress visitors, detergents that make our kids’ soccer uniforms the envy of all the team mothers).  These advertisements make it clear that being social is normal and choosing to be alone is not.  The few commercials which show someone spending time alone, maybe reading, watching a movie, running, or cooking-for-one, portray that person as self-indulgent, selfish, lonely, or even a little creepy.

This annoys me, to say the least.

The advertising world wants you to believe that everything is run by extroverts.  That being extroverted is the key to all success and happiness.  Parents push their introverted children to “be more outgoing” and force them into group settings.  Then they wonder why those same children refuse to accept their advice when they reach their teen years.  They are confused when their young adult jumps on every bandwagon and caves under the slightest bit of peer pressure.  They don’t understand why their mostly quiet, very intelligent daughter listened to that loudmouth down the road and ended up on probation.

It’s because society has made shyness interchangeable with introversion.  And they’ve made it to be a problem that needed to be fixed.  But you can’t use an extrovert to “treat” introversion as if it’s some kind of affliction.  Not everyone needs to be an overtly social extrovert.

As an introvert, I am not shy.  I’m an excellent speaker and instructor.  I don’t freak out when I have to talk to people, I just prefer not to.  Because extroverted people annoy the sh*t out of me.

I’m quiet, but not lonely.  I prefer to be alone, but I’m not shy.  I don’t care much for socialization, except for my closest loved ones and my cats, but there’s NOTHING WRONG WITH ME that needs fixing.  So quit implying that I need fixing.

Someday, advertisers will realize that their campaigns are stupid and start selling to people who have no interest in following along with trends and “norms.”  You know…the other half of the population.

I’d like to hear some feedback from my fellow introverts.  What do you do to cope with the unrelenting onslaught of pushy sales and pushy people who insist that it’s not normal to choose to be alone?

“Me, Me, Me, Monday” is a new installment to the Dr. Pretzel blog.  Since you’ve not seen me in a while, this seemed like a good way to introduce it.  Enjoy!  Oh, and COMMENT!

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Seriously, It’s Not That Serious.

It amazes me how we complicate our lives with stupid stuff.  We complain, complain, complain about things that really, in the grander scheme of things, are not all that important.  So, without further adieu, I give you:

The Mayonnaise Jar & Two Beers….

(Author Unknown)

A friend sent this to me. I see a lot of folks getting seriously upset about not-so-serious stuff…so I just wanted to share. Please feel free to share your reactions.

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and 2 beers.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him.

When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.

He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes….’

The professor then produced two beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand.

The students laughed.

‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things—your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions—and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car..

The sand is everything else—the small stuff.

‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

Spend time with your children.

Spend time with your parents.

Visit with grandparents.

Take your spouse out to dinner.

Play another 18.

There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal.

Take care of the golf balls first—the things that really matter.

Set your priorities.

The rest…is just sand.

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the beer represented.

The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked. The beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of beers with a friend.’

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Hey, Parents: Quit Turning Your Kids into Wussies!

On the bus.

When I was little (5 or 6 years old), my mother would pack my bag and lunchbox and put me on a Greyhound bus headed to Grandma’s.  We were pretty poor and didn’t have a car at the time, so that’s how we did long trips.  In the city we took the Metro (that’s the bus for those who don’t know).

Sometimes Mom would ride along to Grandma’s too, but for the most part I traveled alone.  The driver knew where I was going, and he’d hand me off to Grandma when I arrived.  There were no cell phones then, I had all the information I needed attached to a safety pin inside my jacket, along with some change.  Mom wasn’t worried, and neither was I.  It was an adventure!  I spent the three-hour ride playing word games, coloring, reading, listening to music, or talking to an elderly seatmate.

I spent my entire childhood chasing adventures.  My family never owned or played video

It'll rot your brain.

games, and the TV was reserved for the news, Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, and Bugs Bunny on Saturday mornings.  From sun up to sunset, I was outside playing.  I climbed trees, dug holes, swam in rivers, ponds, and lakes, hiked in the nearby state parks, picked and ate berries or wild apples until my stomach ached, and rode my bicycle everywhere.

I did all of this without adult supervision.

Boy, things sure have changed.

These days, parents are so paranoid about what might happen to their child, regardless of how unlikely it might be, that they insulate them from life.  It’s disgusting and sad, really.  Parents (and grandparents) insist that the world is significantly more dangerous today than it was back when they were kids.  This is not true at all.  In fact, crime rates are much lower today than they were in the 70’s, 80’s and even 90’s (when they happened to dip significantly).  News stories abound regarding the major dip in crime over the last decade.  Seriously, Google it.

But, since Average Joe Citizen refuses to believe facts, so let me say it again:  Crime has decreased, not increased.

Kids are safer now than they were when we were kids, but you sure wouldn’t know it by the way the media behaves.  The availability and accessibility of information through the media, which has actually helped to decrease crime, also causes people to be paranoid about everything.  Even when the situation does not merit paranoia.

Uh oh, we forgot the helmet and gloves! Safety first!!!

You see, just because the media is constantly reporting bad things that happen all over the world, does not mean that it is statistically likely to happen to you or even someone you know. ZOMG!!!  There are kids being kidnapped all the time, right?!  And people being murdered in their homes by strangers!  And, EEEEK!  Strangers?!  We have to teach our kids about how bad they are!  If we let our kids outside unsupervised, they’ll get picked up by some creep in a white panel van and be tortured for months or years in their basements!!!  I know, if we wrap our children in bubble wrap and lock them in the house with their video games, nothing bad will happen to them!

Uhm, no.  Hell no.  As a matter of fact, there is an entirely “new” mode of parenting which says that kids become stronger and smarter with far less parental supervision, and that strangers are usually 99.9999999% well-intentioned.  It’s called the “Free Range” movement, and was basically started by Lenore Skenazy when she let her 9 year old ride the New York City subway home on his own.

He made it just fine, but she was dubbed “The World’s Worst Mom.”  Wow.

I didn’t know it until I happened onto Lenore’s blog, but I’ve been a Free Range Parent for my kids’ entire lives.  And I was raised by a Free Range single mom.  I was a Free Range Kid!

The thing is, it’s more likely that my kids will be brought home to me by some interfering, judgmental adult who will shake their finger at my Free Range attitude, than it is that my kids will be kidnapped or hurt by them or anybody else.

It’s also very unlikely that you, the person who is reading this right now, has

Buy a few tickets and send your kids outside, for godsakes.

ever been kidnapped, has a child who has been kidnapped, or even knows someone personally (who knows someone, who knows someone) who has been kidnapped.  Think about it.  Why is this so?  Because you have a better chance of winning the lottery or being hit by a train (or even both at the same time!) than you do of having a kid be kidnapped.  But the news gives us so much information about the very few children who are kidnapped each year, that we feel emotionally connected to them and the possibility that it could maybe happen to us.  And that’s scary!

But real life isn’t that scary.

Seriously.  The numbers don’t lie.  Of the over 40 million children in the USA, just about 150-200 are kidnapped (in the traditional sense, by a “bad guy/stranger”) each year.  Less than half of that number ends up dead.  All those missing child statistics out there are very misleading and do not account for the fact that most of those reported missing are runaways, kids who were taken by another parent, kids who are late for curfew, kids whose parents mixed up who had visitation that weekend, and so forth.  Sites which claim that a child “goes missing every 40 seconds” are not being forthright the situation involved in that missing child report.

Statistically, it’s ridiculously safe to let your kids play outside.  They are more likely to be

Being "Free Range" does not mean being stupid. Have one of these. Owies happen.

in a car accident with you than be kidnapped.  You can leave them alone, all day long if you like (provided that they are of an age where they are no longer running into traffic and such), and nothing will happen that can’t be fixed with some Bactine and a Band-Aid.

My boys are 8 and 10.  On the weekend, they might check in for lunch, and that is it.  I don’t see them all day.  Sometimes they come home soaked to the skin from swimming in the creek.  They ride their bikes on the roads all over the neighborhood.  They climb trees and build forts and get scraped up. They’ve never even been to the emergency room (yet), because I’ve taught them to use their heads and not rely on adults as the end-all-be-all when it comes to common sense.

I build a bonfire every few weeks in my back yard and leave them outside with it.  I give them hotdog roasting sticks and they cook their own dinners over the fire.  My only rules:  Don’t run near the fire, don’t cook food if there is anything plastic burning in the fire (not because of “the chemicals,” which are probably there, but also because it tastes bad and ruins the food), and the fire must stay in the fire-pit, not on “cool torches carried all over the yard.”

Why do I do these things?  Because I want my kids to learn to function without me.  My job isn’t to handicap them, it’s to give them the knowledge and foundation they need to soar higher and more successfully than the rest. I also want them to have FUN.  As cool as I am as a mom, I’m even cooler because I leave them alone to do things and only step in when I’m really needed.

Unfortunately, many paranoid parents these days are hindering their children’s development by turning them into complete wusses.  These children can’t do anything on their own, and end up turning into inept, moronic adults who make poor choices in life and pass their paranoia on to their children.  Helicopter parents have been proven to hinder their children’s growth and potential.  Nobody has fun when they’re around.  It’s an epidemic and I refuse to catch it.

Teach your child to do the right thing, unafraid of statistically unlikely events. Let them soar. And go fishing on their own.

If you’re interested in learning more about Lenore Skenazy and the “Free Range Kids” movement, check out her blog.  She’s a sharp cookie and has also written a book by the same name (“Free Range Kids,” not “Sharp Cookie”).  I credit her completely with all references to Free Range Kids, paranoid parents statistics, and so forth.  Check her out.  Her book is on Kindle too.  I bought it.

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Read My First Guest Post!!! — “Dear Sanctimonious Religious Types: STFU – Matthew 6:1-7”

Check out my very first guest post about the big tornado down in Joplin over at Shoes Never Worn.  Big thanks to K. Syrah for featuring me!

K. Syrah writes one of the few blogs I actually read on (nearly) a daily basis.  Check out her work after you read mine!  I regularly read her novel, Carry Me Home, which is being published chapter-by-chapter, in a serial format on Eat Your Serial.  It’s an excellent read, and I’ve already pre-ordered my copy!

UPDATE! 

Apparently Shoes Never Worn is no longer (sob!)…so I’ve been so kind as to provide a copy of my post right here on the Dr. Pretzel blog!  You’re welcome.

Yesterday evening, a massive tornado ripped through Joplin, Missouri. It left behind a swath of damage 3/4 of a mile wide and nearly six miles long. So far, the death toll is about 89. That’s the latest news as of 5 a.m. Monday morning. I expect that the numbers will change over the next several days.  They always do.

Immediately following any disaster in the USA, hundreds of thousands of individuals and organizations start posting comments on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. They post at the bottom of every news article about the disaster. Each update in the news brings another post from many of the same people who had posted previously. They get a bit repetitive.

I was watching the Weather Channel last night when the news broke that a tornado had just hit Joplin. A Weather Channel storm chaser was just minutes behind the storm and had come upon the devastation immediately after. He was emotionally overcome several times by what he saw. In every direction, homes, businesses, trees, vehicles, they were all destroyed as far as the eye could see.

I immediately hopped online to look for more news about the tornado, which was still moving east. Over the next few minutes, internet news outlets began releasing the story.

That’s when the comments began.

For every 20 posts of “We’re praying for you” and for every 30 Tweets of “OMG! That’s SOOOO awful what happened in #Joplin! Jesus help them!” there was just one or two “I’m looking for so-and-so who might have been in the tornado.” or “Please help me, I need insulin and I’m at this location in #Joplin.” Those “help me!” posts are the ones which needed the most visibility, yet people won’t shut up with their “prayers” so that the calls for help can be seen.

This morning I opened up my Facebook to see that the Missouri Army National Guard had posted a link to a page for Joplin, MO Tornado Information. I clicked and “liked” it, only to read post after post of “we’re praying for you” with the occasional “I’m looking for” buried beneath the offers for donations and help.  Offers for help run the gamut, from baby clothes to childcare assistance to money.

These are long posts, often with links, which overshadow the simple requests for help with contacting a potential victim.  On sites which were created to help with contacting or locating victims.

Now, I’m all for helping people in need, and good thoughts and intentions are very nice, but the people in NEED are TRYING TO TALK TO ONE ANOTHER!  STFU!

I’m in the military. The Army National Guard, specifically. We’re trained to think a little bit differently than the average person when it comes to emergencies. We don’t think so much about how to leave the area or how to bunker down, but how to get to that area and how to help clean it up.

We also know that sometimes the best help you can provide is to stay out of the way and pay attention. We pay attention to what the state emergency response agencies tell citizens to do. If they say “we have 60 agencies here right now and we really need you to stay out of the way,” we stay the hell out of the way. If our units need us to help, they’ll call. We’re ready to go.  Our willingness is exhibited by the uniform hanging in our closets.  We don’t need to post our “prayers” or get in the way to show that.

Right now, the 35th Engineer Brigade is down in Joplin aiding in the search and rescue operation. I’m not in the 35th, and though I wish I could help, I’m only going to be in the way if I get in my car and go down there right now.

Just like those good-intentioned folks on Twitter and Facebook pages meant to assist families and victims in contacting one another who are just mucking up the works and making it harder. If this is you, STOP. You’re in the way.

If you’re going to pray for someone, do it on your own, in your living room. Your god might hear you there, but it’s more than likely that your god doesn’t appreciate you getting in the way of a rescue effort. Don’t muck up the sites which were created to help victims and their families find one another.

To my fellow Soldiers who are down in Joplin: This is what we train for (among other things). “Always Ready, Always There.”  Be safe while leading those in need to safety.

To the families and loved ones of possible victims:  Your best bet for finding a missing loved one is to go to the Red Cross’ Safe and Well site to search for them.  If you don’t find them there, do not give up hope.  Try again in a few hours.  The Red Cross, Missouri National Guard, Missouri State Emergency Management Agency, Federal Emergency Management Agency and many other emergency response organizations are working tirelessly to help the people of Joplin.

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Friday the 13th is Just Another Day

Nope! You don’t taste like bad luck at all!

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