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I’m A (Karma) Chameleon October 18, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Mindfulness, People, Writing & Writers.

fotostockchameleonLike many writers, I’m an introvert by nature.  I recharge by being alone and don’t need much in the way of social interaction to be content.

My need for solitude is one of the reasons I choose to live on quiet islands (this is our third!) rather than in the middle of a bustling city.  I would wither away in short order if planted in the heart of Manhattan.

Despite introverted tendencies,  I’m a chameleon.

When I’m around other people in social settings, most attendees would assume that I’m extroverted because I’m often the life of the party :

* I feel comfortable talking to people on any number of subjects.  When I don’t know anything about the topic under discussion, I ask questions.

* I enjoy telling anecdotes and funny stories to make people laugh (or think), and listening to others share their stories and histories.

* I am equally comfortable under the spotlight . . . or sitting on the sidelines watching the world go by.  Plant me at the edge of the crowd (or in the middle of a party where I don’t know anyone) and I become so absorbed  watching the interactions playing out before me that I never worry about what “they” are thinking of me.

I expect being an attorney did me a world of good in overcoming my introverted tendencies when around my peers.

To effectively represent others, lawyers must ignore any self-consciousness they feel while “on stage” in front of judge and jury.  They stop worrying about their own reputation and focus on how their clients are being perceived by the fact finders.   They shed their shells and develop thick skins in the process.

But once an introvert, always an introvert.

Being around people for too long drains an introvert’s batteries.  We tend to withdraw from the public eye in order to recharge.   In contrast, extroverts  recharge in public.  When no one  is around, their batteries start to dry up causing them to crave opportunities for social interactions.

While there are exceptions to every rule, I expect that most serious writers are introverts, not extroverts.

Being introverted causes one to be a bit more thoughtful, contemplative, and observant.

For writers . . . that’s a good thing.

Quote:  There is only one trait that marks the writer.  He is always watching.  It’s a kind of trick of the mind and he is born with it. ~ Morley Callahan

Related posts:  We Are Not The Labels We Wear * A Writer’s Life For Me * Introverted vs. Extroverted (Maggie’s Writing Blog)


1. Paula Tohline Calhoun - October 18, 2010

But can one become a writer if not born one? And are you automatically a writer if you are “born one” even if you don’t actually write? (In the literary sense.)


nrhatch - October 18, 2010

I don’t know, Paula. I only know my own experience with enough clarity to comment on it.

My love of words started early and has never left me. I read voraciously from the start, and wrote stories, poems, and journals (with observations about life throughout grade school, high school, and college).

I never thought, “I want to be a writer.” I just wrote for the sheer love of words.

Paula Tohline Calhoun - October 18, 2010

In that case, I certainly qualify! My father taught me from an early age to LOVE words. They are a passion (witness some of my poems). I started writing poetry when I was quite young, and wrote a few pretty awful short stories (my older brother really liked them!)when in Jr. High School. I have always written little ditties like my Odes, but less complicated, and written for birthdays and anniversaries. etc. I only recently (in the last couple of years)became seriously interested in writing seriously (!) and I am still somewhat ambivalent about its “commercial (public) value,” but it is definitely something I enjoy, and more and more each day. I hope I am improving, because I am spending more and more of each day doing it!

You are one of the reasons I have kept it up, and I appreciate your encouragement, while at the same time not massaging my ego with unnecessary and uncalled-for flattery I thank you!

Paula Tohline Calhoun - October 18, 2010

There should be a period before the last “Thank you!” 😀

nrhatch - October 18, 2010

What a wonderful comment to return to. Thank you!

And, yes, you definitely qualify.

Those who put words on paper with the SOLE aim of being published to feed their egos are not necessarily writers worth reading.

Those who put their SOUL down on paper generally are writers worth reading.

You fall in the latter group.

2. cindy - October 18, 2010

I can only have so much of a party and no more, I get to a stage where I almost panic to be home alone again.

nrhatch - October 18, 2010


I’m happy enough to go to parties (food, fun, and festivity) and other social gatherings. But if I’m around too many people for too long . . . it starts to “suck the life out of me” and I’ve got to run for the recharger. 😉

3. Agatha82 - October 18, 2010

Very true about having to recharge batteries in private. People totally drain me, usually takes me days to recover. Parties make me want to hide under the bed so I avoid them. They’re not pleasurable for me…

nrhatch - October 18, 2010

As the investor in A Christmas Carol said when invited to Scrooge’s funeral, “I’ll go, but I must be fed.” 🙂

4. Barbara Gunn - October 18, 2010

What a fun song thanks!
Morley Callahan was absolutely right writers are always watching.

nrhatch - October 18, 2010

My favorite early photo of me is sitting on a beach, staring at a single grain of sand.

I was no more than two.

5. souldipper - October 18, 2010

As a retired Anglican Priest who is a Priest’s Psychologist, Richard has lived in various countries fulfilling his role. His wife, Yvonne, loved the social demands that were placed on them. He didn’t like them.

Over dinner one night, he said, “Our marriage has had only one challenge that we never have been able to overcome. When we go out, I am exhausted after an hour of people. Yvonne is being energized and is only starting.”

Yvonne, a woman whose very presence was one of love, told me once, “I battle with patience.” I was shocked, but after Richard’s comment, I could understand the battle.

People energize me, but I, too, reach a saturation point. Depends on the evening’s theme. However, when I have had enough, I listen to that inner voice – and quietly exit.

nrhatch - October 18, 2010

As long as my social engagement are 1-2 a week, I can party with the best of them. But after a night out . . . I want a night in.

Aah, the wisdom of our inner voice.

6. jannatwrites - October 18, 2010

Oh, I wish I could be an extrovert. At a party, I’m the one grazing at the buffet table because I’m too shy to talk to people – especially a large group already established in conversation. (If the party host has pets, I’ll be off away from the action talking to the animals.)

I don’t know if I can even visit Manhattan because the thought of all those people so close together freaks me out a little (I live in a sprawling large city.)

nrhatch - October 18, 2010

I have found myself gravitating toward pets and kids on occasion. Easier (and more fun) than adults at times. 🙂

Even watching bustling sidewalks in movies makes me a bit claustrophobic. I’d much rather be in the middle of nature than on a crowded sidewalk or busy street.

S~P~A~C~E! Aah . . .

7. Joanne - October 19, 2010

You’ve just described me… Even though I do entertain, my real comfort zone is in my inner world.

nrhatch - October 19, 2010

Aah . . . alone at last. 🙂

8. withduckandgoose - October 21, 2010

i’m an introvert by nature too. but like you, i can talk to anyone about anything, and i’m fine doing it – i just won’t actively seek out the people to talk to. we’re kindred spirits – i can completely relate to most of what you say, especially personality stuff 🙂

nrhatch - October 21, 2010

Thanks! I’m glad that we resonate on the same wave length. 🙂

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