Monk, Sarastro and I had our final meeting dissolving Ouroboros this evening (and drank a toast of Irish Whiskey to our five years). We'll see if we rise again eventually or not.
One of the things we discussed was personalities, people, and the local pagan/occult community. There are a lot of issues with groups of people who are somewhat exclusive with each other (since they are all friends) and with the various social games people either play or are required to play sometimes. Nothing unusual there. It's the nature of the beast for primates like us.
What we did get into is how we are often perceived by others. This came out of some seemingly critical comments I made about some others (no one reading this) that are people that I actually like. We all discussed this and how people seem to perceive our interactions but it got me thinking about how I am perceived sometimes.
I am a critical person. Even if I like you and you are my friend, there is probably something I could point at critically. People can easily take offense to this and I do realize it these days. What people don't understand is that I can point out my own flaws as well. I know the things that I do that people don't like or that offends them. I'm not a complete hypocrite. I'd like to think I'm not one at all but I think that it would be a hard sell.
I know some people perceive me as a "know it all" and as overly critical or negative. I can certainly acknowledge that some of this is based on my attitude and the fact that I don't suffer through seeming mistakes or errors very well at times. I was one of those annoying children who corrected his teachers (they didn't appreciate it either). I do think that a lot of people forget that I didn't fall off the turnip truck a year or three ago either and it irks me sometimes when I feel like someone who has been practicing magic for five years is talking down to me and telling me how to do magic. "Oh gee, thanks. I never knew that, Mr. Wizard!"
I started my involvement in paganism when I turned 18 (no one would touch me before then). I'm 32 as of last summer. I've been a Wiccan (more than once) and I started and co-led an Asatru kindred for a few years in the early to mid-90s, which included me being a lay minister (godman) in the Ring of Troth and running public rites on occasion. I helped found the Companions of the Stone, a Golden Dawn-based order, which lasted (in that form) from 1994 through 1998. I've co-taught classes on Hermetic magic and started an independent lodge/order with my then partner which eventually became the group that closed tonight. I've also done a lot of miscellaneous other things such as join the OTO in the last few years. I've run a big-ass website since 1996, eight years now. While this is a laundry list of pretension (and it is, most of you probably couldn't care), it is to make the point that I've been around the block enough times to get sick of the trip. I bought the t-shirt and saw the movie.
My main character fault here is that I'm not a patient man by nature. This is something that I've been actively working on a few years. Combine that with my being a bit irritable and I tend to react badly to be spoken down to by people that I don't think have earned the right to do so the hard way. None of this will ever win me friends and I'm actively working on it constantly so I don't come across as negatively, even when my buttons are pushed. I work on learning Compassion. I work on understanding Circumstances and trying to see people and their actions through their own eyes. I'm often not successful, especially when I'm just reacting to people and am tired or strained. I apologize to people who have been on the foul end of this before...
I also know that I'm seen as somewhat unfriendly by some people who aren't my friends. I'm very attached to my friends. I'm not terribly attached to interacting with the rest of humanity a lot of the time. Part of this, and most people don't know or understand this, is that I'm actually an introvert. This was a real realization that I had while on my week long management retreat the other month. I'm not an extravert. I know some people might guffaw or chuckle at this given how much and how loudly I can speak sometimes but that is a pretty limited set of circumstances and set of people that I normally do that with. For the most part, I'm not an uber open and engaged people person.
One of the definitions of the difference between an introvert and an extravert is that an introvert feels drained by interacting with other people or groups. It takes work for them to do it. An extravert is amped up by working and talking with people. It gets their juices flowing, it empowers them and they gain energy from that. I'm definitely the former. What this means, practically, is that if I'm not speaking much, not talking to people, not giving you a big ol' hug and saying 'Hi' to you, it doesn't mean that I don't like you or that I'm above it all or that I think you're a fucker. It normally means that I don't have anything important to say at the moment and I'm not much for unmotivated small talk. I probably like you just fine but just don't feel like sticking my head into the social meat grinder. At social gatherings, I normally say 'Hi' to a couple of people (usually the ones that say as much to me) and then find a quieter spot to be that's not in the middle of things. It's just the way that I am and it's about me, not other people. If you happen to be a close friend of mine or someone that I have a particular neeed to speak to, it's a different matter but that really is an exception. I'm not terribly interactive a lot of the time with people and I keep to myself.
The funny thing is, I'm not a people person but I manage people for a living. The team of people that I'm responsible directly for every day at work is six. One of those six has an intern and a contractor working for him. Another one has five contractors working for him. I'm ultimately responsible for managing a group of 13 people day to day. That's kind of amusing for an introvert. Fortunately, introversion is a tendency and a natural inclination, not a requirement. I've had it beaten into me the hard way on how to manage a group. Ultimately, this tends to reinforce me not wanting to be that way outside of work though.
All of this wound up being longwinded but I do get the sense that people have some odd impressions of me sometimes. Maybe I'm self-absorbed, an asshole and arrogant. Even if I am, I'm also probably a bit more than that. :-)
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