Recently I've been forced to take a long, hard look at myself. At my reserved, introverted nature and decide for myself if its a defect or just a choice. I specify 'myself' because for most people in our society its a defect without a shadow of a doubt. There are people who would say theres something wrong with a person if he chooses to be alone when he can be with others. As if there is something wrong in wanting be alone. I'd personally rather be alone than with people I don't care about. So... lets talk about me.
I'm a reserved person. Primarily because of my childhod. I believe that most of what a man is, comes from his upbringing. I was brought up in an ultra-conservative society by ultra-conservative parents. Talking freely and expression of feelings was not common. In fact it was actively discouraged. I was also discouraged by my father to make friends. As the word of my father was law, I had almost no friends at all. Combined with the fact that there was 4-5 year age difference from my elder siblings, I had a lonely, quiet and mostly word-less childhood where my only constant companions were books. Growing up, I hardly talked. No wonder I'm not very comfortable around people. I can never think of what to say!
I moved to Singapore aged 17 on an engineering scholarship. Everything changed then. I realized that I had to get over my inhibitions if I were to survive alone in this foreign land that was completely different from the place where I'd had spent all my life until then. I made a herculean effort to overcome my reservations. I believe that I overcame them well enough, so much so that by the 4th year of university I was part of the university debating team. Now people who know me.... umm... no.... thats not right.... the people that I like know me as a fun-loving, fairly talkative guy.
So why I am I still a reserved person having overcome my inhibitions?
The primary reason is a very selfish one. I don't like to be hurt by others. Maybe I'm too sensitive. Whatever the reason, I hate to give others the possibility of hurting me. And this possibility boils down to expectations. We are hurt by others when they fail to meet our expectations. If I expect nothing from nobody, nobody can hurt me. Except friends. Because a friend is a person from whom we have certain expectations. Because a friend is a person to whom we have given the power to hurt us. This is why there are extremely few people I consider friends.
The other reason is complex in its simplicity. I don't like most people. I don't care for most of them because I find them endlessly disappointing.
You might think 'who the hell are you to judge others?'. And you'd be right. I have no right to judge others. In fact, I'm not judging them. Judging others implies expecting people to behave as us AND criticizing them when they don't. I couldn't do this for two reasons. First, I hardly think about others, so to think about someone enough to pass judgement over them would be a waste of time for me. Secondly, I couldn't care less whether others think or act like me. I am very comfortable with who I am and so never feel the need to validate myself through others. The fact that others don't think or act like me or that others don't agree with me, does not in any way reduce my convictions in my thoughts and actions. Arrogance? Maybe. I prefer to think of it as independence of thought and an unshakeable belief in myself. And so, I never expect people to behave as I do. I just feel that if people are not the way I expect them to be, I'll have the minimum possible to do with them. They are free to be as they like. Not the same as judging others. This is important for me because this habit of judging others is one of the habits that puts me off most people. For most people, as soon as another person doesn't think or act like them, that person is a weirdo! I dislike this kind of thinking and I certainly don't think like that. I just feel that I cannot get along with certain types of people... thats it... I don't think they are weird. In fact, I don't think about them at all!
Anyway, I feel that there is too much pettiness, jealousy, envy and just plain malice in the world. I'd rather not acquaint myself with that aspect of human nature! Perhaps I'm naive. I know that my ignoring it doesn't change the fact that human nature has its faults. But I prefer to look at the positive side of things. I look for simple, little things in people. Honesty, sincerity, strength of character, confidence in themselves... unfortunately there are very few who measure up. Never mind! I'll associate myself with the few that do. And failing that? There are always my beloved books :-p