on being a social hermit

While talking with my wife last night, I realized – once again – that the way I see myself and the way other people see me (due to my interaction with them) are in many ways completely dichotomous.

It seems like my entire life, I have been in a role where I was expected to be able to deal with people. I was born the second son, and soon became the middle. I have many of the middle child characteristics that we have heard so much about. I rarely stood up for myself (and sometimes still don’t) and, yes, I was always the peacemaker. Sometimes to the extent that I would patch up things between others while redirecting their mutual antagonism to a new target: myself.

My first job was as a librarian, where I regularly helped people in their research needs and quite often might just help them find a book that they might possibly enjoy reading (harder task for some than you might expect). At that same time in my life (sophomore in high school) I was also a lifeguard and swimming lesson instructor. In this role I was regularly called upon to deal politely with the clientele.

As I continued working as a librarian/lifeguard, I also went to college and gained my undergraduate degree in elementary education. As all ready notated in “How did I get here”, upon graduation I moved to South Texas and began my teaching career. After twelve years on the front lines of education, I began working as a education specialist, presenting to teachers and administrators. I’ve also been an IT Director along the way.

In all of these positions, my life was made much easier due to the fact that I can play the part of a people person. Not only do I love to get into a good conversation, I love to just listen to a good talker. I love to share my own experiences if it contributes to the conversation. I am at ease in most groups and I can make people at ease around me. I am able to relate to people of most generations and feel comfortable in their company.

So, you might be asking yourself, what? “You’re obviously a people person, good for you!”, you might be thinking.

This is where the dichotomy comes in. I’m not a *people person*. At least I don’t consider myself a people person. It is just as easy for me to sit at the outside of a group and watch as it is to be involved. Sometimes even more so. I don’t find it necessary to socialize after work hours very often. I am quite content to keep company with my wife, sons and various other family members.

In fact, back when I was in high school working sixty hours a week between the two jobs, my favorite thing in the world to do, on my rare day off, was to disappear into the mountains with my dog and a book. Sometimes two (books, not dogs). I could (and would still love to) spend a whole day sitting on the side of a mountain or along the banks of the river thinking and reading.

I guess this is why I would consider myself a social hermit. It isn’t that I don’t like people. Far from it. I guess it is that I just don’t feel that I am needed, and often wonder if, outside my small aforementioned circle, I would be missed. And I sometimes wonder if that bothers me. I’ve recently come to the conclusion, again, that it doesn’t. And I wonder if it should, lol.

My wife thinks that it would be impossible for me to give up my computers, iPhone and all things tech and make that move into the mountains now. I think she would be surprised. As much as I love this blog, enjoy my friends on twitter and am completely enthralled with the many podcasts I follow, I could easily give it all up if I could move to the mountains with my family and a dog of my choosing.

What about you? Are you a social hermit or a social butterfly? Could you give it all up? Would you be willing to quest for your Thoreau moment?

If someday, this site goes silent, and you never see another tweet from me, please don’t assume the worse. Assume the best. Maybe, just maybe, I’ve finally become the hermit I feel I was always meant to be.

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