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.