The Introvert and the Most Hated Man in America

It happened again this past weekend. My wonderful wife informed me that yet another person thinks I am a horrible a-hole. That brings the number up to 42 (btw one of my favorite numbers and you nerds know why). That’s right I’m currently hated by 42 people and it has nothing to do with politics. That number is much higher.

I used to care a lot that people didn’t like me. That ended after countless numbers of private meetings by well intentioned third parties. As the middle child, I was the reconciler and the mediator. Now I’m just the tired.

In the grand scheme, 42 is a pretty low number. It’s less than .05% of people I know. Most people who know me will tell you that I’m usually a nice person or that I’m a very quiet person. Which brings me to the subject of being an introvert.

As an intorvert, I have a incredibly small number of close friends…my wife being the closest. It’s a challenge for introverts to make friends and worse, nurture close friendships. That’s me in a nutshell. I was recently at a party with our local improv community. To me, being at that party was a huge victory, because I never go to parties and when I do I rarely talk to people. I was at the party for about 90 minutes (personal record) and talked to 5 people–two of whom I barely knew. 

What was a huge victory for me, can also come across as a huge failure. Why? I was there only 90 minutes and only talked to 5 people. Again, after 5 hours of poundering what should have been a personal victory, I stopped caring and claimed my victory.

So, why do 42 people hate me? Believe it or not, they all have a lot of things in common.

People Who Hate Me Have Something to Prove

I have a neighbor who believes she is the moral authority of the neighborhood. Word got out that I used to be a pastor and things turned ugly when I wouldn’t go along with her abrasive-style of legalism. Every so often one of my neighbors will tell me what this person is saying about me. As an introvert, I’ll just sit there and take it.

I’ve worked for two managers in a Christian workplace, who hated me with a passion. For one manager I began to impress on of our Executive Vice Presidents and this become a point of jealousy. The other hated me because during planning meetings, I would express my opinions which often did not fall in line with hers. I may sound a little petty at this point, but there was a day with the first manager came to me after 8 years and made amends with me. A lot of truth and crying came out of that encounter.

Both managers felt that I was given responsibilities that I did not deserve and let it be known to everyone in the office. As the introvert, I just sat there and took it.

People Who Hate Me Are Disappointed When I’m Not There For Them

I’m a very empathetic person. If you talked to me, I’ll listen to your story and I’ll feel the emotions that you’re feeling. Empathy. The problem is I’m not a trained therapist or licensed counselor. On top of that, I have my own sh!t to deal with.

I’ve had a few roomates in my life that were going through a lot of personal stuff. As a good roommate, I would listen and listen and listen. For those of you who are empathic people, you know where this is going. When a depressed person talks to you, you become depressed. It takes a while to snap out of it. There’s also this overwhelming sense of hopelessness, because you have no idea how to cure a chronically depressed person. And nice I live with this person, I felt like their 24/7 counselor. Emotionally, I’m drained. As an introvert, my only course of action is avoidance, which leads to perceived betrayal, which then leads to suffering (nerds, you like that?).

Let’s go back to my neighbor. I move in with my beautiful wife and my new infant daughter. Happy and ready to start a family. After about six months, word gets to me that my neighbor hates me because I won’t mentor her two teenage sons. Selfishly, I chose to devote my time and energy on raising my wonderful daughter–the joy of my life.

On Being Passive Agressive

If I was ever to be accused of fanning the flames of those who hate me, that would be my Passive-Agressive tendancies. Yes. Guilty. I’m passive agressive because I avoid conflict like the plague. It’s the only fun I have and the only way I can get back at people. Yes, I’m a bad person.

One day at work, I just about had it with this particular manager. I asked for and was granted an emergency vacation and I took my wife and dog to Lake Tahoe to compete in the World Series of Poker. When I got back, I found out that said manager was on administrative leave and about to be fired. That was one was of the happiest days of my life. Not only was a lot of stress and unnecessary fighting behind me but I found out I wasn’t the only person being tortured.

Yes, I’m a bad person. Soon after this manager’s departutre, I realized my experience with these two managers had taken its toll on me personally. My spirit was broken and my desire to give 100% to a job I loved was gone. 

Years later, I was finally put out of my misery when the company had to layoff staff and I was let go “without cake.” As an intorvert, I wish I had stood up for myself more.

Coming to Grips that I’m Not Mr. Popular

As an introvert, new peope I meet often have one of two reactions to me:

“I’m a really nice person.” When we meet, I’m cordial. We have a little small talk. We have something in common and we friend each other on Facebook.

“I’m not a really nice person.” When we meet, I’m cold. We don’t say much. They block me on Facebook.

Under what circumstances will you meet “nice Alan” versus “not nice Alan”? I wish I could tell you answer. I want to believe it’s the position of the moon. Shoot, I want blame it on you. I’m an introvert and that’s my reality.

Evangelicals Losing The PR Battle and It’s Not the Devil’s Fault

I hate to start a blog this way, but I will. God has laid it on my heart to figure out what has gone wrong with Evangelical Christianity. Believe it or not, I am a proud Evangelical Christian. I love God. I accepted Jesus into my heart and I love the church.

I’ve been meaning to write about my experience as a Christian and God has finally told me to start writing. My problem is I have a lot to write about and I just don’t know where to start. This is the starting point. When I write about Christianity, I’ll give you a little taste of what has burdened my heart.

God, Jesus, the Bible and the Church is not being portrayed very well in the media and popular culture. We are reviled. We are hated. We are misunderstood and we are no longer a source of wisdom in the world. Remember when the Gospel once meant “Good News?” Remember when Jesus was once considered a savior to the lost.

I know what you’re thinking right now. As Christians, why should we care how the world sees us. “Consider it pure joy…when you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2). To Christians, it is a badge of honor to be persecuted, made fun of and mocked.

This is wrong. We are being persecuted, ridiculed and mocked for the wrong reasons. We should be persecuted because we love a God that died for us and forgave us our sins. Instead, we’re being persecuted because we have appointed ourselves as the moral authority to the world. We are mocked because we see ourselves as God’s moral police around the world.

We are ridiculed because instead of coming alongside the hurt, the sick and the weak, our only interaction with non-Christians is to pray the pain away, pray the sadness away and pray the gay away. Instead, we’re called to invest time and love in the lost and the sick.

We are losing the PR battle with the world because we stand up on our high horses and tell the world what they are doing wrong: gay marriage, abortion, AIDS, etc. The problem is that we are so focused on telling the world that they need to accept Jesus as savior, instead of showing how Jesus has transformed our lives.

As an early believer, I thought my purpose in life was to stand up for God. Correct the false teachings of the world and establish the church as the moral authority in the United States and the world. Today I’ve come to the realization that God wants me to be a walking example of Jesus Christ and let him handle the rest.

More to come…

 

On Marriage Equality – A Message to Both Sides

A Message For Both Sides: Today is one of those days where half my friends on Facebook will dislike the other half of my friends on Facebook. That saddens me.

I have great friends who are gay. I treasure our friendship and wish nothing but good things for you and success in the future. As a Christian, I believe you were created by God as I have been and regardless of what my fellow believers tell you, you have access to God’s Unconditional Love, Sacrifice and Blessings as I do.

To my fellow believers, remember that we can not control the course of history. That’s God’s job. We are fortunate to live in a country that values our beliefs. Did you know there are countries out there that will literally cut off your head because you are a Christian or you are gay? Is there no common ground?

We can become spoiled living in a world of religious freedom, compared to the world that Christ actually lived in 2,000 years ago. Sure, we can bunker in, protect the last vestiges of Christianity left in America and shield ourselves from perversion. Or we can take the high road and act as Christ would if he were to walk the earth today. There was a time when the poor and the sick was our responsibility. A time when we loved our neighbor (sinner and saint/gay and straight) as ourselves. A time when we were servants, washing the feet of our even those we considered our enemies.

Faith, hope and love? The greatest of these is Love. Let’s stop being clanging cymbals to a lost world.
To those who wish to argue, show me in the Bible where legislating God’s Moral Will takes precedence over loving our neighbor and I’ll happily engage you in conversation.

Creating Sketch from Improv – My Day with Kevin McDonald

I’m super late in posting this. Last summer I took a weekend trip to my friends, Dorian and Krissy Lenz, improv theater in Phoenix-National Comedy Theater. I visit about once a year. Last year, I had the privilege of visiting the weekend Kevin McDonald from the Kids in the Hall was leading a workshop.

We learned the tricks of the trade as many of the Kids in the Hall sketches started as improvisations, often bad improvisations. At the beginning of the workshop, we broke up into groups of four and quickly performed an improvisation.

I’ve learned that improvisers can be incredibly judgmental people. I am certainly on that list. Almost immediately upon entering the classroom, I began separating the good improvisers and the bad ones. I’m so horrible. Fortunately, humility got the best of me, and I let fate decide my team. My team consisted of myself, a main stage performer and two novices.

We banged out a good improv based on the suggestion of Hunchback. Once our basic improv was set in stone, we were given three opportunities to refine it as a sketch and perform it in front of Kevin and the other classmates.

One thing I learned is to stop telling people how I would do it. Sure, I’d make a suggestion but ultimately the individual performer has to be comfortable with his/her performance and I’m just meddling if I expect more.

That night, all of us performed the sketches, and our hunchback sketch was the last sketch of the night. Check out the video and if you’re ever in Phoenix and want to see some amazing comedy, check out National Comedy Theater in Mesa.

My First Book about Improv Comedy is available now on Amazon Kindle

 

Book Cover
 I did it. I finally published my first book – Yes, And: The Most Overlooked Concept in Improv. It’s available exclusively on Amazon and for the Kindle.

I’ve been a professional improvisor since 1994 and I currently perform with the National Comedy Theater in San Diego. When I first started, improv was just starting to become a popular art form.

I love improv comedy and I believe that anyone can do it. It’s my passion to share what I’ve learned about this art form and elevate the artform.

The concept of “Yes, And” is the foundational principle in improv. The problem is it is one of the most overlooked concepts in improv shows today.

My book takes an in depth look into “Yes, And.” I deconstruct the principle. Show you how we’ve misused it and neglected it. I also show you how to master the principle to improv your improv group and show.

“Yes, And” is the first in a series of books designed to help you produce a short-form improvisation show. Purchase your copy now at Amazon for the low price of $2.99.