Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I Have Synesthesia

When we talked about synesthesia in psychology class, I got to answer questions about my experience.  (You can read about synesthesia here).  Here are the answers to my FAQs:

What is synesthesia like?
I have grapheme-color synesthesia, which means that I see each letter, number, and punctuation mark in a certain color.  For example, every time I see the letter A, it's red. I always see the colors of letters individually - full words don't take on colors of their own.  Each person with synesthesia sees different colors.

I also see days of the week as colors and can picture a week in my mind. The week looks like a strip of a calendar - a rectangle made out of squares, and each square is a different color. When I think about what day of the week it is, I picture where we are standing on that calendar in my mind. I picture a year as all the months attached together in a circle, and picture standing on whatever months it is. I associate the months with colors also, but I don't always see those colors when I picture the year - the year is just light and dark, with the warmer months being lighter and the colder months being darker.  It looks like the shades of light and dark that you see when you close your eyes. I also picture all the years of my life lined up like the days of the week.  These are colored based on the color of my age or grade in school.

When did you know you had synesthesia?
Ever since I was old enough to recognize numbers and letters, I knew that they were colored in my mind. The colors were most prevalent to me when I was first learning the alphabet and numbers, because the colors were part of how I recognized letters and numbers.  I didn't think I was different because I assumed everyone else saw things the same way. I was 21 when I first read about synesthesia.

I have always liked bright colors, and most letters are soft shades that I would not have chosen. I can remember trying to re-assign colors I liked to the letters, but I could never make myself see them differently. But I still assumed that I had voluntarily assigned colors to the letters when I was too young to remember, and I couldn't undo it because I had gotten used to the letters as they were. It never crossed my mind that it wasn't my choice.

Isn't that distracting when you read?
It's less distracting to me than it probably sounds. It doesn't look like each letter is a  differenfoncolor.  If I'm reading something in black print, I still see it in black print - the black is dominant and the colors I see are recessive. For me, the colors are just a property of the letters, that same as the structure of the letters. Once you learn to read well, you start to recognize whole words instead of reading each letter. You still see the shape of the letters as you're reading, but it doesn't distract you from focusing on the content. Colors are the same way - they don't jump out at me any more than the shape of the letters would jump out to anyone else.

What if the writing is colored? What about highlighters?
I can still see the colors if the writing is all one color.  Same goes for highlighters. The only time that I can't see the colors is if each letter of a word is a different color, like on a party banner.  And I can still read even if I can't see the colors. That said, I never used highlighters, gel pens, or colored note cards for schoolwork because I found them distracting. Not because I can't read the information, but because I'd rather look at the colors. Imagine if you printed your class notes in black ink over a light-colored picture that's really interesting to you. You'd still be able to read you notes, but you might prefer to look at the picture. That's how I am with colors, and I'm not sure whether it's even synesthesia-related or not. I still use gel pens and colored fonts - just not for things that I'll have to study or concentrate on.

Does synesthesia help you at all?
I don't know whether synesthesia helped me learn letters, numbers, days, and months when I was younger. It could have, but I don't have any way of knowing.

Compared to my peers, I have a clearer memory of the sequence of events in my life. I always know in what grade or year events took place, without having to stop and think. The way I see the years of my life lined up may help me to organize my memories. For example: my family and I took a particular beach vacation when I was in fourth grade. The number 4 is yellow and sand is yellow, so I think of fourth grade as yellow and the beach vacation fits right in, almost like it's color-coded. I was 11 in sixth grade, when I was in my first play, Oz (the Broadway version of The Wizard of Oz).  The number 11 is green, and I think of Oz as green because of the Emerald City.  If the play had been in fourth grade, I could have considered Oz to be yellow, like the yellow-brick road.  I also could have colored sixth grade purple since 6 is purple.  But 11 and the Emerald City just matched.  I don't know if this was a conscious choice or not.

These are the main questions I get asked about synesthesia, and I'm happy to answer more. I'm not an expert on synesthesia itself, but I can answer questions about my experience.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Subjective Reality Is Real

Imagine that a new clothing store just opened in town. Your friend goes to check it out, but comes back disappointed that "Everything in the store is pink." Another friend, who loves pink, hears this news and rushes out to go shopping, only to return and say, "What are you talking about? There's nothing pink in that store!" So what's the truth? Which one of your friends is right?

Answer: They're both right; they are each describing their own subjective reality. Yes, there is an actual count of pink items at the store, but what we perceive at first glance is a subjective reality, or reality as it relates to us. So let's say that 40 percent of the clothing items at the store are pink.  Someone who hates pink might feel that pink has taken over the store, but someone who loves pink might feel like they don't have enough options.  Neither person is wrong - they're just perceiving the store as it relates to them.

I started noticing this type of difference a lot when I went to college.  A lot of my classmates said that we didn't have enough intellectual conversations or discussions about important topics, but I had a hard time bringing up the personal things I wanted to talk about because everyone always seemed to be talking about some bigger issue. I was bored through so many conversations about the economy.  I had a hard time finding people who just wanted to talk about fun and personal things. When people brought up this issue, I always wanted to ask, "Who are you hanging out with?"

My classmates said that no one liked to go to discussion groups, when everyone around me was going to discussion groups all the time and pressuring me to do the same. My classmates also said that most students didn't like to participate in class, when in most of my classes, I was the only student - or one of a few - who didn't participate. Some of my classmates said that students at my college were very attached to home and their parents, when I was often the only person in a group who was unwilling to go someplace other than home during vacations, who still felt homesick in my final year. The list goes on and on, and I would get really frustrated, thinking, "Are we on the same campus? Where are these people?  Because I'd really like to meet them!"

Studies have shown that when asked to estimate the distance to a point, students wearing backpacks estimate longer distances than students without backpacks.  Why?  Because most of us perceive distance based on the effort it will take us to get there, and it takes more effort to walk when you carry a backpack. Of course there is an actual measurement of the distance, but the fact that the distance is shorter for some people and longer for others - that's reality too!  Think of how we measure distance in minutes instead of miles. There isn't one reality - there are lots of realities.  Everyone has their own.

ALL of our issues are real, even when they contradict each other, because what's too much pink for one person is not enough for someone else.  And it doesn't matter how many pink items are actually in that new clothing store.  Even if 100 people thought the store was all pink and only one person thought that it didn't have any pink, that one person is still right, because it wasn't pink enough for them.  And  until you've been to that store, you shouldn't base your own judgement on the fact that it was too pink for 100 people - you should base it on how much you like pink.  Because it could be that those 100 people don't like pink as much as you do.  Subjective reality is reality, and everyone's reality is real.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

12 Tips for Keeping a Journal


Lots of people I know have tried to keep a journal.  Back when I used to write in my journals consistently, my friends often asked, "How can you do that?"  Here is a list of tips for keeping journals, online journals, and personal blogs:
  1. Decide if you like keeping a journal.   Notice how you feel when you write an entry:  Do you actually enjoy the process, or does it feel like something that you have to do?  If you like to look back on what you've done but don't enjoy the writing process, consider a different way to record memories, such as taking pictures.
  2. Don't feel that you have to write every day.  You can set a goal of how often you'd like to update, or you can just write when you have something to say.  If you do set a goal, don't let setbacks inhibit you from continuing.  If you miss a month of writing, don't feel obligated to write backdated entries unless you really want to. Feel free to continue forward.
  3. Pick the journal type that works best for you. A paper journal feels cozier, is more private, and lets you paste things in.  An online journal makes it easier to share with friends, edit past entries, and  link to other posts or articles.  If you like to type but don't want your journal on the internet, consider keeping a journal on a computer file.  
  4. Keep a list in your journal of things that you would like to write about, which you can refer to when you want to write. 
  5. If you're using your journal to keep a record of your life, stick to the highlights that you care about. Don't feel obligated to write details that don't interest you.  
  6. A journal can be anything you want it be.  It doesn't have to be a record of your life in the literal sense. Although I've written a lot of journals, I've never just written about what I've done. The remaining tips are suggestions for things you can write in a journal besides (or in addition to) what you did in a given week.
  7. Record your personal goals in your journal.  Not only will this help you to achieve your goals, but it lets you remember what was important to you at a certain time of your life.
  8. Make lists.  Lists are easier to update because you don't have to describe everything in detail.  I kept lists of funny and touching moments that happened with my friends and in plays.  
  9. Write things that you would normally write elsewhere.  I record party guest lists and shopping lists in my journals.  I would have otherwise thrown these lists away, but recording them automatically creates records of fun events. 
  10. If your journal is private, you can keep track of your daydreams. 
 11. Write about anything that interests you. You can look back and see what you were passionate about at a certain time. If you have an online journal, you may connect with other people who share your interests.
12. Don't feel that you have to stick to writing.  You can draw, make Venn diagrams, glue or post pictures, etc. You can decorate or use colored pens.  Whether public or private, make the space feel like your own.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Getting Personal with Psychology

I love psychology, but I always found the college major a bit strange. Psychology is one of the most down-to earth, relevant-to-real-life subjects, but in the classroom, the subject often felt theoretical and removed.  Sometimes we talked about study strategies based on cognition and memory. But when we learned about more personal things like depression or parental neglect, we were always talking about "other people," as if nothing applied to any of us.  I've talked to several classmates who've experienced the things we discuss in psych class and are aware of that "other people" mentality.

I've always noticed that English, art, and music teachers have a reputation for being easy to talk to about personal issues. This is just a stereotype, but I wonder why psychology doesn't have that same warm-and-fuzzy reputation.  I think about all the personal things we shared in fiction and poetry-writing classes - when students said their work was true, when students shared true stories to determine whether something sounded realistic.  We never thought twice about whether sharing was "appropriate." I had always imagined that psych majors would have a deep connection because of all the personal topics we discuss, but there was something less welcoming in the way that we didn't speak personally about topics that were personal by nature.

To some extent, I understand why psych feel theoretical in the classroom. I like psychology, but I am not a people person; I never wanted to be a therapist, social worker, or anything where I'd work closely with people. And when you think about it, the people who teach psychology are probably the same way - they find it fascinating, but don't necessarily want to be counselors or psychiatrists or other go-to people.

I did have one psych class that was different. In my sex and gender seminar, we talked a lot about personal experiences.  For our project, my partners and I covered the school with questionnaire flyers about college suicide. Our plan was to organize a discuss group, but there were issues about having a real safe zone and not being required to report what people said. I wish we could have had the discussion group also, but I was so glad that we had actually used psychology to help people.  I think all psychology classes should have an applicable component, whether it's an interactive project or even just a class discussion about how these issues affect us personally.  Because regardless of how a class is taught, psychology is just not hypothetical.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Different Priorities

When I was in middle school, almost everyone played basketball. Each year, I was one of only two or three girls not on the girls' basketball team.  My classmates often pushed me to join the team, noting that I did play basketball at recess.  But while I didn't hate basketball, the idea of practicing once a week after school and having Saturday games didn't interest me. I had assumed that my classmates loved basketball and I didn't, which is why I was surprised that most of my former classmates didn't try out for the team in high school.  Kids who had lead roles in middle school didn't audition for high school plays. I was one of the few students who continued what I did in middle school (which was theatre).

A high school friend once invited me to her demo party (a salesperson shows you a bunch of products to buy).  When another friend asked me if I was going and I said that I wasn't interested in that type of party, her response was, "It's better than sitting at home doing nothing." At first I was offended by this comment - why did she assume that I have nothing to do besides go to this party?  I got this type of reaction a lot when I didn't go to various events.  But then I thought back to my middle school basketball team, and it all made sense.

The reason that I continued doing theatre in high school while most of my classmates didn't try to continue basketball was that we all signed up for our activities for different reasons.  I loved to come home after school and play with my toys or play outside by myself.  I loved going to playgrounds or doing things with my parents on the weekends.  I would only give up that time for something that I loved even more, and for me, that thing was theatre. Basketball was okay to play at recess, but I didn't like it more than what I would be doing with my time if I didn't have basketball practice. But not everyone has the kind of home life where they love going straight home after school.  Not everyone has fun by themself.  Basketball was one of the few activities offered at our school, and for most of my classmates, playing basketball after school with their friends was more fun than whatever they would be doing otherwise.  Doing what we like, or what we like better, is different for each of us.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Blog Picture?

I have been debating for a while about posting a real picture of myself on this blog instead of the icon I've been using, but I keep thinking I'm better off without it.

Reasons I should use a real picture:
  • Most friends I've asked prefer a real photos and bio section of the blog author.  It makes the blog feel more personal or makes the reader feel more like they know who the author is.  I may get more readers by having a real photo.
  • A real photo makes the main page look more interesting. People like pictures, and I don't post any other pictures.
Reason I wasn't using a real picture before:
  • I don't want the reader's opinion of this blog to be impacted by my appearance or anything else they can infer from the photo. These things aren't relevant to what I write about.
  • I don't like the picture not matching the post, like if I'm smiling in the picture but I write about something depressing.
  • I don't like people taking information that I didn't mean to give them.  With words, I feel in control of what I share, but with a picture, I don't know what I'm revealing or what assumptions people are making.
Please let me know what you think.  Do you like to see a real photo of blog authors?  Does it matter to you?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Fat Does Not Mean Lazy

You're probably familiar with the stereotype that fat people are lazy.  You might even believe so yourself.  Here is an explanation of why this assumption is not true:

First of all, most people assume that someone who is fat is not eating right or exercising, which is not necessarily true. But more importantly - even if we know for a fact that someone is not currently eating well or exercising enough, that doesn't mean that they are lazy. Why? Because the opposite of "lazy" is "hard-working," and last I checked, "hard-working" is not synonymous with "being thin," or even "keeping your body at a healthy weight." While it does take hard work to lose weight, the term "hard-working" is much more all-inclusive. The stereotype that fat people are lazy probably goes back to the days when humans were hunters, gatherers, and farmers - the days when all work involved physical labor. But nowadays, most jobs don't involve being physically active. Nowadays, there are a million ways that you can be hard-working and successful while being sedentary. You could be a good student, a great parent, or excel in a job that doesn't involve physical labor. You could write a book, paint a masterpiece, design websites, create video games, design a clothing line, write a comic strip, start a band, record an album, invent a product, run a business, or help people in need - all without being physically active.

Finally, since most jobs don't involve physical activity, people have to exercise in their spare time. Eating healthier food involves preparing more food from scratch, which is also time-consuming.  Someone who doesn't exercise or eat well might be very busy with school, work, and/or parenting responsibilities and not have the time to take care of their body.  People may also be busy with personal goals or other things that they love to do, and if their free time is limited, those things take priority over exercising or cooking.  People have different priorities. It's really disappointing to think that a fat person could achieve all of their life goals while a thin person does nothing, but we as a society would call the fat person lazy simply because losing weight was not on their to-do list.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

"You Looked Better Online"

Summer party
A lot of my friends have met someone online and discovered that they were different in real life than they presented themself on Facebook or other social-networking sites. While I have never met someone first online, I find it strange not that people look better in their online pictures, but that we expect a person's pictures to accurately represent them in real life.

Before digital cameras and cell phones, we took photos more sparingly.  Unless you had a newborn baby, were traveling the world, or loved photography, most of the events in your photos - vacations, parties, graduations - covered a very small portion of your life. We all know this, and yet when we look at someone else’s profile, we assume that the pictures we see represent everything. It never occurs to us that maybe they’re only smiling because they’re on a beach vacation, that the picture has nothing to do with their everyday life.

No matter what you're doing, or how much fun you're having, the main factors that will determine how you look online are:
1. Whether or not you own a digital camera or camera phone.
2. Whether or not you like to take a lot of pictures.
3. Whether or not you hang out with anyone who takes a lot of pictures.

Not everyone has a digital camera, so posting photos online may not be an option.  Even if you have a camera, not everyone likes to take pictures of everything. Having a camera phone allows you to take casual pictures, such as your lunch, when you wouldn't normally have a camera with you. It's not really about who ate a better lunch - it's about who has the gadgets.

If you don't take pictures of every single thing you do, the pictures that do get posted may not accurately represent you.  On Facebook, for example, your friends can upload pictures of you and tag you, so that the photos show up on your profile even though you didn't take them yourself.  This can create a skewed version of your life depending on which events your picture-taking friends attended. Example: I always looked happy in my Facebook pictures even when I wasn't having any fun in real life. The only time I usually take pictures is when I'm on vacation, and my friend who takes the most pictures didn't go to college with me.  My Facebook pictures consisted mostly of vacation pictures and pictures of fun times that I shared with this friend. The reason I looked happier was simple: almost all of my photos were taken during school vacations.

Even if you are having fun in real life, some events just lend themselves to more photo-snapping than others. You can take as many pictures as you want during sports games, but none during plays and performances.  People usually take more pictures at drinking parties than at any other kind.  And while social events are captured, no one takes pictures of themselves having fun alone.

Finally, many of us forget that no one takes pictures at funerals. Even if people are working or studying in the picture, everyone is usually in a good mood. Lots of people write that they're feeling bad online, but very few will take a picture that shows how they feel. With no makeup, no touch-ups, and no fancy camera angles, we all look better on online, whether we want to or not. 

We know these things, yet it’s easy to start comparing ourselves to others who appear happier just because they have more pictures.  I once wrote a quiz to see how committed a person was to theatre, and asked a question about whether the person had a display of their show memorabilia.  After discussing this with my mom, we agreed that the answer to that question has less to do with a person's commitment to theatre and more to do with whether they like to keep their special things on display.  I think the same is true when it comes to photos - having a lot of fun photos posted online has less to do with how happy someone is and more to do with whether that person has a camera and likes to post pictures.

**Edit: This post really only refers to sites like Facebook and Myspace. The same issues don't apply on other types of sites and forums.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Essence of Truth

Telling a true story can be more complicated than it sounds. I first realized this when my 8th grade English class made scrapbooks/autobiographies.  We had to write a page or two about each school year, from pre-K through 8th grade, but there were a few catches:
We were expected to leave our scrapbooks on display for a week so that anyone in the school could read them. This meant that:
  • We couldn't write anything bad about anyone, because they might read it.
  • We couldn't write anything that bad about school in general, because the principal would read it.
  • We couldn't write anything that we didn't want the entire school to know about.
  • Additionally, we had to focus on school, even if events outside of school were more important to us.
At the time that I wrote my autobiography, I thought it was honest. I was proud of myself for being open and not sugar-coating anything. But reading it a few years later, I couldn't believe how inaccurate it sounded. I didn't include some of the most significant things that happened during those years. It wasn't sugar coated - it was like I just picked all the marshmallows out of the Lucky Charms. I selected positive stories that I could write about truthfully, given the constraints of the assignment, but when you put those pieces together, it doesn't tell the true story of what happened.

In my college fiction writing class, I wrote one story that was based on my freshman year. When I discussed this story in my final portfolio, I said, "Most of the character and plot details are fictional, but the gist of the story is true."  None of the actual events or conversations took place in real life exactly as they did in the story, but when you put all the pieces together, it was very representative of what actually happened - more so than my 8th grade project which only included true facts.

When it comes to creative writing, it's not always important how much of the story is based on truth, and if you are presenting something as a true story, you can always explain changes to the reader. But the difference between being true in fact vs. true in essence applies to many situations. When you're trying to make a good impression on someone it's easy to paste a bunch of true stories together to create a picture that may not be accurate, and to tell yourself that you are being honest. But being true in essence is important in presenting yourself honestly because it helps you to figure out whether or not you'll really be happy in that job or at that school or being friends with that person.

Follow-up post: Truth vs. Honesty

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Introvert-Extrovert Quiz

This is a quiz to take if you would like to learn whether you are introverted or extroverted:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/quiet-the-power-introverts/201103/quiz-are-you-introvert-or-extrovert-and-why-it-matters

I don't know how dead-on this quiz is; the situations are more specific than most intro/extroversion quizzes I've taken. But I must say, I like this quiz because it focuses on the qualities that introverts have, as opposed to the qualities that they don't have.

I have 14 out of 20 introvert qualities. How introverted/extroverted are you?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Truth about Friendly Rejection Letters

You may be familiar with friendly rejection letters - those form letters that say you didn't get the job, get into college, or whatever else you may have applied for, in the nicest possible way, with no indication of why you weren't accepted.  I'm all in favor of not hurting people's feelings or giving unwanted criticism, but a recent experience taught me that the lack of information in rejection letters does more than save the your feelings - it saves the person who rejected you from needing a legitimate reason.

Every year at my college, we had an event with workshops on various topics, including issues that affected students on campus.  When the club organizing this event asked for topic suggestions, I suggested a discussion on personality differences and the pressure to be a certain kind of person.  I mentioned that in my four years at college, there had never been a formal discussion about this topic (not just at this event, but in general).  I knew my idea may not be chosen since a lot of students submitted ideas, but I hoped it would at least have priority over topics that had been discussed before.  But after my idea got rejected, most topics that did make that cut had been discussed many times before.

When I got a friendly email from the club that they were so sorry they couldn't use my topic, I was disappointed, but not just for the obvious reason. I thought that submitting my idea was a win-win situation:  If my idea got picked, great! But if it didn't, I would have the rejection email as proof that my issue wasn't being taken seriously. I could print copies of that email and show them to everyone who didn't believe me. I could post those copies around the school to prove my point. But with an overly friendly email, anyone who read our correspondence would just think there was't enough room for my topic.

Regardless of why my idea was rejected, I learned that friendly form letters allow room for discrimination, because no one has to tell you why you weren't accepted.  Not that it would be pleasant to receive a letter that you weren't accepted because of your sex, race, sexual orientation, or a number of other factors, but if you had that letter in your hands, you could expose it to the public.  You could start a boycott against them or prevent other people from applying.  But you can't do anything with a friendly rejection letter, even if you suspect that you were unfairly rejected.  Maybe it would be better if our letters actually explained in a nice way why the applicant wasn't accepted.  Then it'll be harder to reject someone without a legitimate reason.  Then if you think your rejection wasn't right, you can fight back with the proof in your hands.

Giving Back Control

If I'm speaking to a doctor, counselor, or other professional, I would be seeking professional advice.  And even if I just wanted someone to talk to, I would understand if the person gave their expert advice.  But I'm to talking to family, friends, and other people who aren't professional advice-givers, what makes me trust someone is hesitation:  Questioning further to make sure they understand.  Offering advice as a question, uncertain that the suggestion is right.

I've talked with people who "knew" what was right for me and people who were more hesitant.  I've found that everyone I can trust, everyone who really means it when they say "Do what's right for you," has at least a trace of hesitance.  It's a trait that I'm actually trying to exhibit more when talking to friends about problems.

When discussing a friend's problem, hesitance isn't about a lack of confidence - it lets your friend know that they are in control.  A common root of most problems is the lack of control over your own life, so telling someone what to do can make them feel worse.  When you question your friend further, you're making sure you understand the problem and letting your friend know you're taking them seriously.  Offering advice as a question such as "Have you thought about..." shows that you understand how serious or complicated the issue is and that there may not be a solution that fixes everything.  It also shows that you aren't judging your friend, and that if that suggestion doesn't work, you'll keep coming up with ideas.  It lets your friend know that you want to help but you are not going to impose anything on them.  You're giving them back the control that they may have lost.

I have heard lots of people say, "Do what's right for you," and then not accept people when they actually do it.  If you are going say this, make sure that you really will support the person in taking your advice.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

An Extrovert's Nightmare

Imagine that it's your freshman year of college and you're just waking up in your single dorm room. It's 9:00 a.m. and dead silent.  No one plays music here, or talks too loud, and even if they did, your walls are soundproof.  You've made some close friends in your dorm and have had some fun times together, but you wish you saw more of them.  Everyone on campus lives with their doors closed and spends a lot of time doing their own thing.  They socialize with you when they want to, but it just isn't enough for you.  You leave your door open hoping someone will come in and talk to you, but everyone either ignores you or stares at you like you're weird. Why would anyone come to college and leave their door wide open? You're missing out on the experience of being alone!

You review your housing application for next year, in which you practically beg for a roommate, but you know the chances are slim.  Your school was designed for people who are okay living alone.  While it's a known fact that there are many others like you who would love to have a roommate, there are nowhere near enough double rooms to accommodate all of you, and your chances of getting a triple or quad are close to zero.  It would be so much fun to live in a quad, but every time you find three friends who are interested, they always find a "better deal" with two double rooms instead.  You are probably the only student on campus who would rather live in a suite with more roommates than in a regular room with fewer. 

You head to class, where you're always bored out of your mind.  You think back to elementary school, when you could answer questions and go to the blackboard and work in groups.  But every class at your college is a lecture with no participation, because that's what learning is about.  You feel so trapped at your desk that you begin to hate even the subjects you once loved.

Lunch time rolls around. You take a seat with a few of your closest friends and share personal stories.  You love your friends, but sometimes the intense one-on-one conversations tire you out. Sometimes it just gets boring.  Sometimes you wish people liked to hang out with larger groups.

You do your homework, then head to ultimate Frisbee practice, band rehearsal, and a student council meeting.  Your friends can't believe that you do so many things. Almost everyone you know has only one or two things that they're focused on, and plenty of students don't do any activities.  You like being busy, but whenever you mention how much you do, you get the same comments: "How can you do all that?" "Aren't you spreading yourself too thin?" "You really should think about quitting something!"  If someone mentions a campus event and you express interest in going, it's always, "You're gonna do that too???" A day doesn't go by that you don't get pressured to quit an activity, not go to an event, or to put personal time at the top of your list.

You catch your friends at dinner to see what's up for the weekend, which is often a disappointment to you.  It's no use saying that you want to go to bigger events and meet more people, because they just call you monophobic - someone who is afraid of being alone.  Everyone calls you monophobic when you discuss these feelings. You explain that you're not afraid of being alone - you just don't enjoy it, but no one understands.  Everyone just tells you to try again, to get out of your comfort zone and really try to have fun by yourself. And every time you tell them that you had no fun at all, they say you weren't trying hard enough.

You may never have experienced a day like this, in college or otherwise, but plenty of people live the reverse of this every day.  This is what a typical day would be like if introverts ruled our culture, the same way that extroverts do now.