Differences in Processing Time

In 2015, I read Susan Cain’s Quiet, which is about the hidden power of introverts and the many talents they can bring to the table and how they are often overshadowed in America—a far more extroverted country than, say, Japan. Introverts tend to be misunderstood as “shy” or “rude” or “antisocial,” which has been a source of frustration for me throughout my life.

To me, the biggest difference between introverts and extroverts is what I call “processing time.” Extroverts are way better at making decisions in shorter time frames than introverts, at least in my experience. They come up with solutions faster and their witty comebacks are that much more effective and funny because they are spontaneous. Introverts need more time to process and consider all options. This may lead to a better-informed decision, but it’s useless in times when a quick decision is mandatory. And I find myself annoyed because I come up with the perfect witty comeback… four hours after the time when it should have been said.

I consider myself fortunate to work in a department that consists of mostly introverts (editors and writers). We understand each other’s “antisocial” tendencies and need for “processing time.” We don’t have too many long-winded water cooler conversations because we just want to get back to our desks and focus. However, I think I got a little spoiled by my workplace, because when I go out into the real world, where the majority of people are extroverts, I get frustrated when they don’t seem to understand my “slow” thought process and impatience with small talk.

Then I also realize that perhaps I am not being as understanding of extroverts as I ought to be, and I may be using “introversion” as an excuse to avoid social situations that might otherwise benefit me. So the need for a fine balance comes into play. There are times when a quick decision is necessary, and there are decisions that require more thought. There are times to go to parties and social gatherings, and there are times to go home and relax and read or watch a movie. Some projects would be better when worked on in a group situation, and others are best worked on individually. As with many other things, it’s a matter of understanding other people and what they’re like and how their brains function.

It’s not like in the days of elementary school when you can immediately write off that one kid as weird because he likes to play by himself, or avoid another kid because he likes to be the life of the party. In the real world, we have to work together.

 

Bridezillas and the “Perfect” Wedding

Confession time: I used to watch Bridezillas, that horrible reality show about brides abusing their future husbands, their hapless bridesmaids, their mothers, their future mothers-in-law, and basically everyone else they came into contact with in their quest to reach the altar.

Now that I’m planning my wedding, I understand the beleaguered brides’ plight much more than I did when I watched the show. I don’t sympathize with or condone their bad behavior, like breaking into bar fights on the day of the bachelorette party or engaging in unnecessary drama. But I understand the pressure, and pressure makes people do crazy things, like having a crying fit over something as seemingly simplistic as what kind of flowers to put in a boutonniere.

I still find it amusing that the most common piece of wedding advice I’ve gotten is “it’s your wedding; do what you want.” In all honesty, if I could do what I wanted, I’d just have a church wedding and avoid all the rigmarole and expense that comes with the reception. Hell, if I could do what I really wanted, I’d have the wedding at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The reality is that “it’s your wedding; do what you want,” but with several caveats: what the budget allows, what your family will and will not tolerate and/or pay for, what his family will and will not tolerate and/or pay for, what the church will and will not let you have at the Mass, and so on.

So… it ain’t Burger King; you can’t have it your way. In that sense, wedding planning must be the smallest microcosm of what marriage is going to be like: realizing that you can’t do what you want anymore, at least not without consulting with your future spouse. This has been particularly mind-blowing to me because I’m a fairly independent person. I like to do what I want, and I don’t like having to consult what seems like a thousand other people for their opinions, because then I begin to second-guess my own opinions.

Then there’s all the “informative” material: wedding magazines, wedding etiquette books, sites like Pinterest and the Knot and WeddingWire… and the list goes on. I read or scan through it and literally get sick to my stomach. It’s too much. Weddings are a business and an industry, and the vendors have to make money and will inundate you with aggressive advertising for stuff you don’t want or need. It’s easy to get bogged down in it all and forget that you’re planning for one day. One day. Yes, it’s one very important day, but it’s still one day. No wonder some women become bridezillas.

The fear of becoming a high-maintenance bridezilla has caused me to stay far, far away from all that “informative” material. I don’t want to read a sappy story about how Person X and Person Y met and planned the Best Wedding Ever and how they did it all incredibly cheaply and it all turned out looking like a Disney fairy tale. To me, it ought to be less about the wedding and more about the marriage, the journey together, the ups and the downs and the day-to-day stuff that can make you or break you (not to mention the spiritual aspect of it, but that’s another blog post). I just wish that for every wedding magazine, there was a marriage magazine, and for every happily-ever-after, picture-perfect wedding, there was a good, stable, lasting marriage.

I guess all the wedding hype is another symptom of how our culture is so laser-focused on momentary pleasure and making things look Facebook- and Pinterest-worthy, but I think that’s yet another blog post for another day. I’ve bored y’all enough. 🙂

That’s Just How S(he) Is

“Acceptance” and “tolerance” are two buzzwords getting thrown around often these days. As with almost everything else, there is a time and a place to be accepting and tolerant and a time and a place when acceptance and tolerance don’t quite cut it and something needs to be said.

Humans are flawed creatures. Even the person whose life seems perfect on the outside is a wreck inside, tainted by sin and all manner of “dirt.” We can’t expect perfection out of others, and we can’t expect it from ourselves. We are often our own toughest critics, which is why it can seem astounding when someone approaches us and says something along the lines of “You’re such a patient person” or “You’re really good at such-and-such.” We may not have seen ourselves in that light at all.

We tend to be a lot more sympathetic to and understanding of others’ faults and idiosyncrasies than we are of our own. We may be quick to forgive others, but we remain angry at ourselves for a long time, which often leads to lashing out at others.

Even so, as Jean Paul Sartre said, “Hell is other people,” so even though we may be more patient with others than we are with ourselves, other human beings are still annoying. When people act as their annoying selves, it’s important not to take things personally and remember that it may just be how that person is or a reflection of his or her personality. I’ve been told that I often come across as “cold” or “unfriendly,” but it’s really just my own shyness/introversion. It doesn’t mean that I don’t like you personally.

One of my coworkers always acts as if he is in an enormous rush, and I used to think that it was because he didn’t want to talk to me specifically or have any time for my newbie questions. Then I realized that he acts that way all the time around everyone. It’s just how he is.

Yes, these behaviors are annoying. Some of them are even worth mentioning to the person if they really end up hurting feelings. But most of the time, it’s not worth it to worry about or harp on something that’s just a mannerism that the other person can’t control (or for all you know is working on trying to control). In those moments, it’s good to remember to be “accepting” and “tolerant” and not take things personally. Chill.