The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

31 July 2013

Of hamster balls and grocery stores

What a co-ink-i-dink. From two different people through two different sources I came across helpful - and entertaining - information about introverts.

Also co-ink-i-dentally, I disregarded my inner voice of reason and went shopping.  The kind that involved large, sprawling, crowded stores - more than one.  I should have known better. For an introvert, the task of selecting the very best broccoli in a superstore amid a large and seething crowd is not only not fun, it is draining.  Exhausting. I bought a bath mat in one over-sized store, and groceries in another, and felt at the end of it just as if I'd been on the presidential campaign trail for a month. Too much visual information, too much stimulation, too much noise, too many people. Too much! I should have gone to my local and modest grocer, but I was tempted with the thought of exotic cooking oils, and housewares.

It's not that I don't like people, it's just that y'all wear me out! One of the helpful and entertaining articles about introverts I read described us as being in a human-sized hamster ball. That is our personal space boundary, and to us it is sacrosanct. We might invite you inside it, but if you poke at it without invitation, we will get cranky. (I become abrupt and take an actual step back.)

Poking might look like the lady I work with who peppers me with personal questions in a loud voice, and the large male patrons who loom over the desk, hands braced on the counter, fingers tapping, voice booming. In both scenarios, I become a figurative porcupine, curling up around my vulnerable underbelly, protecting myself against all comers with my spiney quills. Once in defensive mode, it takes a while to uncurl again.

Few people are welcome inside my hamster ball, but the ones that are tend to appear in it without me noticing. They've somehow got the knack of breaching the walls without laying a siege. I don't know how they do it... they must suck their own personal space up nice and tight when they approach me.

I don't want to give the impression that I'm totally antisocial because I'm not. I've had wicked good times at barn dances, amusement parks, Church basement socials, and Depeche Mode concerts - but then I stay at home and crochet for a few days, needing that time to process what happened and replenish the inner reserves.

Blogging is a hamster ball friendly venue. We can get to know each other at a very safe distance, and the rules are pretty much up to me. It's ideal, really, as long as I don't rely on it to the exclusion of real life with its contingent space-invading human beings.  It's good to be challenged, to be prodded out of my hamster ball.  And to get groceries from time to time.


  1. Hi, there. Just barging in again...

    So, yes. Personal Space Invaders. I wrote about them some time ago on my other blog. I do understand the problem - and the uncomfortable feelings.

    Also, I wouldn't have picked you for a Depeche Mode listener. It's just odd because this is the second mention of them today I've had and it's not a usual subject of conversation.

    And when people say I'm anti-social I tell them I'm selectively social. There's a difference.

  2. Selectively social. I like it. We are discriminating.

    Oh, big time Depeche Mode fan. Huge! We've been together a long long time, the boys and I. Between Depeche Mode and Manchester United, it's fair to say my heart is in England.