Thursday, January 09, 2003

HSPs, Introversion and Meeting People

I am an INFJ, HSP, enneatype 9 and assorted other things that add up to my being not the most "social animal" in the world. In general, I'd say that I have relatively little interest in "group activities" with strangers, although I must confess that I very much enjoy the company of a close friend, on a one-on-one basis. You could say that I don't much like people in a "global" sense, but am very fond of people on a case-by-case basis.

Having said, it may surprise you to know that in my 10+ years of being online, I have met in excess of 100 people, face-to-face, whom I originally "met" through some kind of Internet connection. "How is that POSSIBLE?" you might ask. For starters, let's not forget that this adds up to only about 10 people a year, and many of them were met as part of a group. My point, however, is that 90+% of these encounters have been very positive and non-overwhelming experiences.

I have met an occasional introvert who didn't mind (and even liked) groups-- as long as the group interaction was of a finite period of time, and not too long. In certain circumstances-- which I'll get to-- I belong to that latter group. There's an interesting dynamic, when you get predominately introverts together in a group setting-- they'll find a "comfort zone" very quickly-- usually meaning that a group (for example) of 12 introverts will pair up into six one-on-one conversations-- maybe changing partners, now and then. 12 extraverts would be more likely to have one big free-for-all.

Of course, there are also extraverted HSPs-- but this entry is not about you. But I didn't want you to think that I thought all HSPs are introverts.

But back to how this introverted HSP could go about voluntarily meeting so many people.

There is no parallel in our daily lives that compares to what it is like to "meet" a group of people "you already know" from some kind of online connection. Meeting a group of people (HSPs, for example) you have been emailing with for 6 months or more is completely different from going to a support group (of strangers) you signed up for at the local health center. When you do meet in person, there is a strange camraderie I cannot really describe. Although you are meeting for the "first" time, these people are not "strangers;" and not only are they "not strangers," they are people (thanks to the strange sense of closeness this medium gives us) you have probably shared more openly of your life with than the majority of your "real" friends.

I have been to a total of 7 "group gatherings" which were based on some "common interest." All have been highly positive experiences; I have made some wonderful friends in the process. It seems to me that when you get together (as a group) around a "common bond" it doesn't feel like you're "in a group." It feels like you're in a supportive and non-judgmental meeting of dear friends.

Although I have only been to one "event" that was based on the HSP trait as the "common factor," this meeting of HSPs was no different. And Dr. Aron writes of the importance of HSPs making friends with other HSPs-- so the effort is well worth it.

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