A little spontaneity keeps conversation clean…

Time to revive the Thoughts Archive. This is the first in a series of articles based on personal characteristics with noun titles. Today’s topic is spontaneity, and how I was almost an asocial introvert.

In maybe eighth grade, my mom showed me an article called “How to Care for Your Introvert”, mostly as a joke. I was slightly offended on behalf of myself and also at the idea that introversion was inherently a bad thing. There’s also, I still point out, a difference between true introversion and something closer to 電車男-style otaku-hood, i.e. only having an online social life. That wasn’t me; my time spent posting online, anywhere, was minimal, and I had no part in online communities. I had a life, it just didn’t involve many outdoor activities, and I didn’t often invite people over. (Partly I think I just didn’t consider my house that interesting.)

Note: For the rest of this article, I’m not using the term “introversion” for just the typical meaning; it’s partly linked to lack of spontaneity and initiative.

Anyway, until partway through middle school (and not ending until sophomore year of high school) I was definitely an introvert, a quiet smart guy who hung out with the friends he had and, while perfectly happy to do something or meet new people, would not actually take the intiative and go out on his own. (Twisted pronouns getting confusing there…) I was the guy who, for the first half of freshman year, went to the library to do my Bio homework because I didn’t really have anyone to hang out with. Which was fine, it just wasn’t interesting or fun.

It wasn’t until sophomore year, when I actually knew people, that my introversion really ended. (Yes, I said “middle of middle school” but not knowing anyone in freshman year caused a relapse.) I had decided/known for my whole life that I’m going to be me (bending to social constraints is somewhat a learned behavior for me in some cases), and not try to be someone else. (I don’t exactly understand that mindset, actually.) So once I realized that it could have positive results, I started being spontaneous.

“Being spontaneous” is one of the best things for my life. Basically, when evaluating whether or not to do something, take “routine” and “social norms” out of consideration. “Likes”, “dislikes”, and “stupidity” stay in there, but going up in front of dozens of people from your dorm and singing “Summer Nights” (complete with a few moves from choir) is not “stupid”. It’s entertaining and fun.

If you’re not one for social humiliation, there’s still an advantage in spontaneity. You meet more people, you sign up for more things (and then drop them, not get overwhelmed), you take random classes, you join a musical. Life is just better when you’re spontaneous. (The suggestions page from one of our Welcome Week brochures actually includes “Be Spontaneous”.)

As far as the original introversion, there’s little chance of that left for me. It’s worth it to go out into the hall and just talk to people, so you get to know them and they get to know you.

There’s nothing wrong with introversion. My roommate is a lot like what I could have been, which is fine. He’s a friendly but quiet guy. But life is just a lot more interesting when you do things, say yes even when it means getting up, and don’t just follow the expectations of society.

This was not a very clear post. But next time someone asks you if you want to go somewhere, or you’re wondering if you should just go talk to someone else who has their door open, or you’re considering signing up for the Pool Players’ Programme at your school, try saying “Yes” for a change. And forget routine and social norms. Life’s just more fun this way.