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To Bare One's Soul

Updated: Dec 4, 2018

Have you ever wondered whether you're an introvert or extrovert? I have. It's trickier to determine than you might think. How do I classify myself? On the one hand, I used to be very shy. When I was young, I used to keep pretty much to myself. As I got older, though, I found myself wanting to be around people, loving to be at parties, talking, making jokes.

So what am I then? An extrovert or an introvert?

Well, apparently many people are both. That is to say that they can be an extrovert at times and an introvert at other times. That sounds like me. If you want to know if you are more of an introvert or an extrovert, the question you need to ask is which one are you when you feel the need to recharge?

Bingo. I'm an introvert. An introvert that loves to be around people, loves to be the life of the party, loves to dance, loves to meet new people, laugh, make jokes, and even occasionally have a couple glasses of wine and get up in front of a crowd full of strangers and sing karaoke.

The key is, it needs to be on my terms. I have a safe zone. I can't say exactly what the boundaries are for that safe zone, I just know it's there. If I'm relaxing, recharging, enjoying my quiet time, and all of a sudden there are people around, I might not be properly equipped to deal with it.

People that know me are often surprised to discover this. How could this be? Social anxiety? This guy? The guy who goes out social dancing? The guy who just belted out Pearl Jam in front of a room full of strangers? Yeah. That guy.

I can't set the parameters for the safe zone. I just know when I need to be there. The same goes for sharing personal information. I've met people who need to bring other people into their private lives, as though it's necessary for them to involve others in every aspect of their existence. Sometimes I think it's narcissism, but often times I think it's just how extroverts roll. That's how they recharge. That's how they get their energy to deal with life; by bringing others in.

Not me. Don't get me wrong, I have been known to share private information from time to time, occasionally discussing my feelings on certain matters, inviting others to take a peek behind the curtain, as it were. But again, it always needs to be on my terms.

Writing takes that away. You can no longer control how or when people get to gain access into your soul. It just happens. The funny thing is, you'd think writing fiction would give a person separation from their innermost thoughts. Au contraire.

Many people assume writing fiction is all about revealing things about yourself that you want people to know, secretly divulging aspects of yourself in your characters. Quite the opposite, really. What actually happens is you end up exposing things about yourself that you don't want anybody to know about. It's true. That's the magic of fiction.

That's also the magic of reading a novel. You are getting the writer's innermost thoughts, feelings, fears. It's not necessarily intentional, though. That's the thing. And that's why it can be magical. And as a writer, I can tell you that's it's an odd experience to learn something about yourself through one of your characters.

Writing a blog is an entirely different animal, of course. This is intentional. This is staring directly into the eyes of the beast and saying you don't really give a fuck. You just have to tear down that wall and invite people in.

I have to admit, it has been a big challenge for me. When writing fiction, the story is mine until it's completed. So when I'm in the process of writing, I can climb inside the story and not have any concerns about leaving my safe zone. How much safer can you be than inside a world that you created? You get to put your characters into certain situations and they get to show you how they are going to deal with it. You get to reveal things about yourself and also learn things about yourself all at the same time. You don't have to be concerned that you are revealing too much or not enough. You just write. And then when you're finished, you have an editor look at it and she can tell you whether or not it's all a bunch of crap.

But then you get to this point where I am right now. You worry. You agonize. Is it good? Is it crap? It's not really about needing validation. It's about exposing yourself. You can't suddenly go back to your safe zone. You have to let go. And letting go can be excruciating.

I enjoy writing. And I enjoy writing like this. It's conversational. And as I said before, I don't mind sharing things about myself. The challenge comes when you click "publish post." Now it's out there. And you can't take it back. I can go sit in my safe zone––which ironically is often times sitting at my computer writing––but now there's a part of me that's traveling through cyberspace and cannot be brought back into the safe zone. And I just have to deal with that.

Let the anxiety begin.

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