Saturday, 20 June 2009

My Credo

A credo (Latin for 'I believe') is a statement of personal belief. Every year in January, I try to write a credo. In previous years, I have written down platitudes that bear little actual resemblance to my true behaviour and beliefs. They were just things that I aspired to, or thought that I ought to do or think.

This year, I sat down and thought really hard about my daily behaviour and attitude, and tried to find the beliefs behind them. I wrote up a credo that truly is what I believe.

The reason I've dragged it back out again to have a look at it is an old issue of mine that I've struggled with year upon year, the issue of 'socialising' with others. Every year I make resolutions that I know I can't keep, resolutions to be more 'sociable'. I am much more solitary than most people. I have always been that way. When I was a kid, I had only one or, at a stretch, two close friends, and that's all, and I felt happy that way. I was not raised in a home where the family ever took traditional vacations (other than going to visit relatives or the rare trip to the river), visited anyone else's home, or had guests in our home (who weren't relatives from far away who'd come for a rare visit). So 'socialising', other than going to church functions, is not something that was part of my paradigm. It never was. In college, I met a few people I've remained friends with, then I married a boy who hung out with my brother and was thus around enough for me to get talking to him. Throughout my life, I've got my fill social interaction at work with colleagues, and when I get home, I enjoy just being at home. I don't feel the need to talk to other people. I actually don't care about it at all. That's not to say I don't 'care' about other people, but you could say I care about them in the abstract. I want them all to have a happy life and get on with their lives, and if it's all the same to them, I'll get on with mine. Going out just to be with other people as some sort of social obligation feels like a theft of my precious time, the time that belongs to only me. I know that is totally foreign to a lot of people, but to me, it is normal. I feel happy having my husband as my best and only friend, and some nice people at work who I enjoy interacting with but who I don't necessarily feel the need to get together with outside of work hours. It's only when I compare my life with other people's that I feel there's something wrong with me and I should try to be more like them. They're always planning things, going places, spending money, eating crap food, getting together, not having 'time' to work out, watch TV or write a blog. Shouldn't I be like them? What, I've always wondered, is wrong with me?

All this has been brought on by going to my work friend's house tonight. They have given up inviting me to things a while ago, because I always opt out. I do it as kindly as I can, but the truth is I just don't want to go. But tonight I bit the bullet and went. Of course I was the first one to leave the event, but then I arrived first. (I always do that. Get there right on time, and then leave first. Probably because I want to get it over and done with.) While I was there, I enjoyed listening to people talking, and took part when I could--but when I'm ready to go I'm ready to go. Anyway, on the way home, I was thinking, why is it that they seem to enjoy this so much and I don't. I like talking to people socially, but only for about an hour or two, then I'm ready to return to the comfort of my home and my solitude. I don't like stuffing myself with lots of unhealthy food or drinking alcoholic drinks. I don't like sitting up late, knowing that everyone is wanting to go but not wanting to be the first one out. Why can't people just get together for a chat? For me, the nearly perfect social situation is the 15-minute staff break. We get a drink, laugh and talk, then we all get up and go back to work before the conversation gets boring and the whole thing starts to feel like more of a chore than a pleasure, which is what a group social situation feels like to me. One-on-one, I can talk to you for hours, but put me in a group, I clam up, slink around in the background, and check my watch until time to escape.

What deep beliefs make me act this way? What deep-held notions cause my daily behaviour? Does it even have to come from a belief? Maybe some of us are just solitary creatures.

Here's the credo I wrote on 21st December 2008.

I believe in privacy and solitude.

I believe in independence and freedom.

I value my own comfort and security.

I do not wish ill for anyone, but I feel no need to socialise with people in order to feel love for mankind.

I value peace.

I want to live and let live.

I eschew cruelty to animals and people.

I believe that people should show kindness to one another in ways comfortable and appropriate to the individual, not as they want to be treated, but as the person on the receiving end would like to be treated.

I believe everything in existence deserves to be free of pain. It is our moral obligation to see to that.

I believe that it is everyone's responsibility to make an informed decision about how they live their life--and if they CAUSE NO HARM, they should not have to answer to anyone for any of their life choices. Ever. Or be made to feel bad for them. You can have an opinion about it, but you should not condemn someone for living in a way that does no harm, no matter how different it is from the way you live.


Anna Down Under said...

Gee, Carla, I could have written this post! There's nothing wrong with you, I'm the same way!

I, too, get my socialization at work, and prefer my evenings and weekends to stay at home with my hubby, who is also my best friend.

It was hard for me to be on the business trip to Melbourne, as I shared a hotel room with another co-worker. She's a lovely person, but it was weird for me. I was out of my comfort zone. I imagine I'll be asked to do this again in the future, and of course I will go. But I didn't like it.

They've sent out an invitation at work for everyone to get together for a night out, and of course they're all asking if I'll go this time. I generally don't. Hubby doesn't have a gig that night YET -- but things could change. I haven't replied to them yet, but I really don't want to go. I like them all just fine, and hope they have a great time. It's just not MY idea of a great time to go out with a crowd of people. Also, they're going to a Vietnamese restaurant, and I have no idea if I'll find vegan choices there.

Anyway, don't feel like there's anything wrong with you -- you're fine. People like us just value our own time and like to spend it doing the things we enjoy most.

It reminds me of when I said something recently to a guy at work about how much overtime I've had to work lately. Most people's opinions are the same as his was -- 'so what, you get paid for it!' But for me, it's not about the money. I moved to another country so I could spend my time with the man I love, and working so much overtime takes away from the time I can spend with him. That just confused the guy at work though, he didn't get it. Ah well ...

stickbooth said...

I cannot tell you how deeply this affected me. Even though we have giant differences in our outward behaviors(you and I)we clearly share some of the same values when it comes to solitude and privacy. As for you list of beliefs I know that I can certainly vouch for the last one- no matter how strange my life is, it is mine and I have always felt comfortable and free from self-censure when we talk(chat). Great blog today!