Unwinding a Paradox


I have a work friend with a stutter, not terrible, but definitely noticeable. He had mentioned that when he was younger that he was in drama, had moved to LA to pursue an acting career. And once I asked him how he was able to perform with that stutter, and he said that it only affected him when he was speaking impromptu, like casual conversation, if he knew what he had to say, like a script, the stutter went away. Well that is how I view my introversion, if there is something that I am prepared for, it goes away.

I was always something of an introvert as a child. Spending a lot of time to myself, working in my own dream world. And yet, when I got to middle school and high school I found that acting was something that I enjoyed, it got me out of my shell. Same with sports like basketball, or even later in college when I was in a sort of band. And of course later I got back into role playing and that has become my biggest social outlet since then.

Which seems strange for such an acclaimed introvert to seek out such a social thing for his main hobby. Because Role playing games (not the ‘role playing games’ people play on computers and consoles, I don’t think of those as true role playing) are a social event. You seek out other people and then spend 4 to 5 hours interacting with them.

But here is the thing, about acting when I was younger, and the role playing games now, in my mind I am not really having to be ‘me’ when I play (or run.) In my Denver game, where I am a player, I barely know these people, or anything about them other than the host, and even then very little about what has has done the last 18 years. All the talk at the table, and interaction isn’t about me or my life or the other players lives, it is about the game, and what our characters do and say. I don’t have to make ‘small talk’ or talk about daily stuff, or make jokes or try to be interesting, that isn’t a part of the conversation.

In fact one of the reasons why I kind of broke off from my old group is that the time spent playing had gradually gotten smaller and smaller, instead people just sat around and chatted. And to be honest that wears me out. I like the table top miniature games because you have to focus on the game rather than chat, I just don’t have the time to keep up as the games change so much.

This is the answer to the paradox of why an introvert can choose to love an activity that is seemingly very social. Because the social aspects of it are very controlled and focused and don’t involve the day to day things that most people like to chat about.

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