Sunday, July 10, 2005

the pathology of introversion

If I knew the code to open the Task Manager for my brain, it would show up on my desktop perpetually lit at 100%, like it had spyware all over it. Most of these processes would be background stuff, but sometimes one might be something useful. Like, say I'm trying to figure out what kind of career doesn't require another degree but might make use of my desire to spend all day researching things and then writing about them. If I suddenly decide to take some time out to play a game of Zuma, my brain will still happily cycle in the background, occasionally interrupting my consciousness, looking for a bit of data to fill in some gap, like making me google "private investigator licensing requirements". Eventually it will spit out the answer (investigative reporter? you think?), regardless of what consciousness it might be interrupting. Even if I've moved on from Zuma and have decided to sweep. Or organize my fonts.

It does this constantly. My brain is a speed junkie, and if it can't find the good shit, it'll rummage through the cupboards and find the brain equivalent of outdated, ephedrine-laden diet pills or some dusty vivarin to keep it going. If I don't have it working on anything important, (like when my freelance business is slow), then there's no telling what it's going to chew on.

While I was busy thinking about this, my brain, being bored and not having enough to do, started mulling over another theory. I don't know how other people work, but as I am very conscious of my actions, and hyper-responsible for any possible repercussions I may set off, I don't, in general, do anything without working through a variety of possible reactions and choosing the best possible course. If I'd like to say something to someone, I will go through it in my head, and play both roles of the interaction in as many permutations as time allows. When I write email that requires diplomacy, I sometimes will edit for hours just to make sure I neither offend or instigate with my words.


Now, you might already have put these two volatile brain activities together and made the same discovery that I did. When my brain is both undertaxed and preparing for a human interaction, it sometimes just locks up for hours. With nothing else to do but calculate an endless variety of possible outcomes to an endless variety of possible inputs, it will crank away like that computer in Wargames without a Ctrl-Alt-Del in sight. Phone calls I might make go no further than my sitting in a trance with my finger hovering over "call". Emails I might send sit on my desktop in a state of perpetual editation [sic]. The dark side of being thoughtful is apparently being paralyzed.

And, as you might imagine, this becomes even more troubling when I am suddenly thrust out of my comfy 24x7 one-person life and pressed into a real-time conversation with someone. It might, in fact, explain my introversion, and why it gets worse when my work is slow. (It also might go a long way towards explaining why some of the most extroverted people I know - sales guys - don't seem to be troubled by an excess of thinking... hm...)

Anyway, the fact that my brain has spent so much time hypothesizing tells you how bad things are. I need more to occupy my time, and evidently, I really need to get out of my house. Looks like it's time once again for the palliative job search.

sigh.

1 comment:

Jennifer Z said...

On the other hand, while your mental washing machine is on its perpetual spin cycle, at least you're no longer having fantasies about old fart virgins whose major career aspiration is to preach to the masses, wearing a white robe and pointy white hat. (If that seems like a bad visual, I refer to the Roman, not the Southern -- or scary Chicago suburb -- version of that costume.)