Friday, July 13, 2007


I don't have any of this thing called reserve. It's odd, because I'm actually a little bit shy, it's just that I don't hesitate to tell you most of what I know about me. You won't know I'm shy, I manage quite well. But I've been thinking about this reserve thing for some time now, as a result of something Tony said a while back. Reserve is defined as "formality and self-restraint in manner and relationship; avoidance of familiarity or intimacy with others," but I think that puts a negative spin on something that's really quite admirable, if impossible for me.

I admire people who can hold back. They seem quite grown up and I often resolve to be more reserved and then I can't. I just can't do it. When I meet you, I want to know all about you and I am instantly interested whether you're the rough guy pushing the shopping cart on the street or the president of the bank where I keep my business accounts. I love people and I don't let anything like propriety or reserve get in the way of finding out all about you and what you are passionate about and who you are. I recognize that it's offputting to some, but I can't help myself. It is good that I live here, where that's more typical, because I'd surely be an outcast in Yankeeland.

My husband is reserved and he also suffers from that peculiarly male affliction of failing to get to the heart of matters important to me. I'm not trying to peg people or assign them to constricting boxes of expectation when I wonder about whether they're happy in life, with their work, whether they've got children, a great love, a passion for something in this world. I guess I'm seeking common ground, some way that we are able to connect, even if it's just that they are something I will never be and so I get to admire them and stand in awe of their accomplishments.

I don't understand how someone can tell Mike "I went to see a counselor" without him following up with "Really? Can I help in any way? Do you want to talk about what's going on?" It is foreign to me, not part of my personal culture to let a comment like that pass by as if someone were remarking on the weather. Maybe it's the social work training, or just my upbringing, because my sisters suffer from this affliction too.

I talk to people I don't know in public and folks often strike up conversations with me as well. Lunatics do this, too, and that is sometimes a drag, but generally, when I'm standing in line I'm talking to someone and appreciative of that, because it seems kind of lonesome to stand in a silent herd of humanity waiting for tickets or checkout or whatever.

But the flip side of all of that interaction is that I crave time alone, quiet, just me and a cup of coffee and my thoughts, a book. My reserved husband needs no such time. I know some of this is regionally influenced, some due to my upbringing, and some is wholly internal, this urge to know about you and who you are and what you think.

So. You? Reserved? Not reserved? What do you think had the greatest influence on your personality in this area? You know, tell me, tell me everything! I want to know. See? I can't stop it.

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Blogger evilganome said...

A big part of it for me, is that I am actually very shy. It is very difficult for me to be at ease around people I don't know. In my professional capacity however I have to be very outgoing and put others at their ease. The only way I can reconcile it, is that it is my job description. I am, actually, very good at my job and people think I am a lot more outgoing than I actually am.

July 13, 2007 11:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wanting to find out about other people and telling other people about yourself are two different things. Being interested in others is not unreserved. Telling perfect strangers at the supermarket about your last operation is unreserved.

Reserve has a time and place. Sometimes it is a kindness to let people talk. Sometimes it is better to let them keep their peace. You have to use your best judgment.

I've been told I'm "remote" (which is probably the same thing as reserved), except when I'm being intensely involved. That's because I'm an INFP. It's just who I am, though growing up in a very large family in which we had to create our own privacy, because there wasn't any otherwise, may have something to do with it, too.




July 13, 2007 12:09 PM  
Blogger BigAssBelle said...

really tony? i figured it was the vermont thing.

i have also been forced to come out in professional situations, thus overcoming my innate shyness. i guess it's not too severe, though, or i'd not be chatting up the plumber and the tar man and the bank teller.

July 13, 2007 12:09 PM  
Anonymous lynette said...

haha!! Deidre: Telling perfect strangers at the supermarket about your last operation is unreserved.

too funny . . . that far i'd never go ;-)

July 13, 2007 12:24 PM  
Anonymous tater said...

I have been accused of being reserved when people first meet me, but I am no such thing, I am simply on the shy side. Once I warm up and feel comfortable, its all bets off. I am not afraid to ask questions, or cross a line in the task of knowing someone. I have terminal foot in mouth disease (I inherited that from mom) and will often unintentionally embarrass people. while I don't discuss operations to people in a check out line, I won't hesitate to discuss religion, politics, sex, whatever. I do so in a pleasant way, however, and I'm genuinely interested in people and what makes them tick. I don't think it's a north south thing, although southern people are much more gracious to your face. Northerners can be just as warm and charming, but most northern city dwellers won't hesitate to pee in your pool if you are out of line. Interestingly Lynette, you are the same warm person online that you describe yourself to be in person. Without knowing me from atom, you made me feel valued and welcome. I don't think I would have started blogging without your acquaintance, and I certainly wouldn't have continued without your encouragement. Don't ever seek to be that which you are not, your value is in being you, and that's a pretty damn good thing. Kisses!

July 13, 2007 1:25 PM  
Blogger David said...

For me it depends on the person I'm speaking to. Some strangers I will feel comfortable opening up to. Others will receive mono-syllables from me. It depends on the vibe I get. I'm not shy, but I can be reserved.

July 13, 2007 1:31 PM  
Anonymous David said...

David, (another David here) I agree with you....there are times where I feel perfectly comfortable with a new acquaintance and can open up (although I think I have a certain point of opening up -- where the truly open stuff doesn't even come out in conversation with folks I consider friends until we've know each other for years)...and when I get a "bad vibe" I will tend to be very quiet- almost offputtingly or snobishly so....although a few weekends ago, a friend talked me into going out...and one of his bar acquaintances came up to us and was really annoying -- so I decided to see how far I could push him with conversation (ie about sex, leather, etc)....and his reactions were priceless!!!!

July 13, 2007 2:24 PM  
Anonymous lynette said...

david(another) ~ nothing like leather to liven up a conversation ;-)

david, as in all things, you are my prototype for the well adjusted adult. if i ever grow up, i want to be you.

tater, that's just . . . very, very sweet. thank you. and i am so glad that you stuck around and look at you now :-)

July 13, 2007 2:51 PM  
Blogger eba said...

oh gosh. i guess for me, it depends on the situation. i can be reserved to the point of being withdrawn, but there are people with whom i make deep, lasting, and impressionable connections. i'm sure that some people think of me as a Queen B (where "b" does not stand for Bee [evil grin]) while others tell me that I'm profoundly warm.

i once had a yoga teacher who (i thought) was able to see the light in everyone. i'm not that person, though i aspire to it. otoh, i can be very forgiving, so first impressions are not always last impressions.

however, meanness, undeserved (imho) boastfulness, and unfettered hypocracy send me right back into that withdrawn place (as in how fast can i get out of the same space as this other person is in).

it really does depend.

i hear that northerners are cold, also, but i don't think we are (i've lived in the great state of Massachusetts for 30 years). there's a lot of warmth up here. we can also be funny and smart. but not always (another evil grin). Come up and visit and see for yourself!!

July 13, 2007 5:42 PM  
Anonymous lynette said...

haha! eba, not only are y'all funny and smart, but you're generally politically savvy and not easy to buffalo (i.e. not falling for this george bush bullshit). i have known (in every sense of the word) many yankees and yes indeedy, many of them have been quite warm. :-)

i don't think of reserve as the equivalent of cold, it seems dignified, grown up, whereas i sometimes feel like a wiggly puppy about to pee on someone's shoe in excitement of meeting someone new. ;-)

July 13, 2007 5:52 PM  
Blogger Ms. Place said...

My daddy is reserved and the funniest wit on the planet. Mom, bro, and I shout out our opinions with delight. We suffer from foot in mouth disease. I just so adore my daddy for his admirable restraint. People listen to him.

Whereas Ma, Bro, and I are simply flapping our mouths in the breeze.

Dahling, I have placed a moral dilemma on my blog that is right up your alley. I thought I had boundaries, but in this instance, apparently not.

July 13, 2007 7:47 PM  
Blogger rodger said...

I grew up in the friendly/Bohemian San Francisco Bay Area and was/am quite the introvert. If I get a good vibe or get to know you...I'll talk your ear off but otherwise...I keep to myself.

My partner on the otherhand will talk to anyone, anytime and people love him. He's the one we all get a good vibe you sweetie. I wish I could bottle that!

The more I think about it...I learned to be more outgoing after moving to the city. I realized one day, in a popular meat market (real meat), that if I didn't speak up when they called my number...they'd move on to the next customer. Being so shy, I'd just grab another number or leave. That lasted about a week and things changed. But I'm an introvert, except at work. Yet I blog. Go figure.

July 13, 2007 9:57 PM  
Blogger Red7Eric said...

I think I fall on the side of "reserve." I love connecting with people, but I also have this need for other people to like me, and I don't want to come off as pushy and invasive, so am often afraid to ask the questions.

Now, if someone said to me, "I went to see a counselor" -- well, that's an opening, and I'll take it. But strangers in restaurants, I tend to just leave alone.

July 13, 2007 11:07 PM  
Blogger Kimberly said...

Hm, extremely shy, not so reserved.

Hi. It's been awhile. (Re: your previous post,) I was reading an article in a local paper ("Sicko and the Senator") about Moore and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-from my neck of the woods) and I thought about you. I thought I would find a post about the film here ... :)

July 14, 2007 2:34 AM  
Blogger SubtleKnife said...

No, people at the supermarket don't need to hear about your toe! I don't think we needed to either... Is it getting better, dear?

Seriously, I swing from one extreme to the other. I think it's caused by a conflict between an outgoing personality and depression that causes it. Even when I don't ask, I probably want to know, but I just don't feel up to it at that time.

July 14, 2007 8:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

July 14, 2007 10:31 AM  
Anonymous said...

This is so interesting to me. I swear, Lynette, I can so relate to what you are saying here. Every day it seems I wake up and tell myself to (like you said) HOLD BACK, and it is very often that I have these CRINGE MOMENTS when I look back and realize that I have exposed WAY too much. I feel like I am CONSTANTLY embarassing myself. But then I look at people like Mike and I kind of think the same thing, a mixture of envy that he can do this but also shock like why doesn't he want to share? Share of himself and receive so much information right back at him? I sort of think that the people who are reserved may just be older souls? Like they have already learned that there's nothing new here, we all have the same struggles with different name tags and we will get through it like we get through it and it's kind of he same old story so why tell it or go out of one's way to hear it. I LOVED THIS POST! It is so dead on. And it hit me. Hope you are doing well. XO

July 14, 2007 10:49 AM  
Anonymous GRRSteve said...

I'd say I've come a long way from being the terrified, silent kid I was three decades ago.

What's really done it for me is having worked in several different jobs that involved varying degrees of interaction, either with co-workers or the public. I've had to lead groups, act as a liaison between business factions, serve as an interpreter for tech geeks and product users, trained college kids in selling men's clothing, and now I'm running a restaurant.

At present I'd consider my public demeanor guarded and situational. When I strike up conversations with people I don't know, I'm genuine and deliberate. Unlike a couple of my acquaintances who don't approve of interactions with "low class people," I see no harm in small talk with anyone, whether it's in the locker room, the grocery aisle, the ATM vestibule, or with guys who approach me at a bar. I simply don't understand the reason for self-imposed isolation. Life's too short for that. Lynette, the world would be a better place if more folks were like you.

July 14, 2007 11:19 AM  
Blogger Doralong said...

I also tend to chat with total strangers often- my husband jokes that no matter where we go everyone assumes I'm a local.. But not to the degree of discussing recent medical procedures, no ;) I often find people genuinely interesting actually. And a little pleasant small talk can often provide lubrication to those big gears of society and keep them from grinding on one another, much as manners do.

As to the greatest influence in this area.. well I do think to a degree part of it is regional. And my Mamma sure never met a stranger in her life. But in large part I just have an internal urge to be connected to the rest of my fellow humans.

July 14, 2007 5:23 PM  
Anonymous TedBear said...

I am an engineer. I sell software to large corporations. My personality is direct and definitely not shy. I met my Overeducated Redneck by throwing peanuts across a bar at a Sunday beer bust.

I always talk with anyone, anywhere, anytime. I want to know who they know, where they are from, and more. I like people and I am always fascinated by meeting new people.

The Overeducated Redneck always listens and observes before he speaks to someone new. The O.R. will converse, he was a fraternity president. He just won't fully engage until he can observe them for a while. The O.R. will help and defend anyone in trouble, but he will never provide an opinion on how to solve someone else's problems.

I have been through Myers Briggs testing twice. The first time I was an ENTJ. The second time I was an ENFJ. WTF?

I am certainly direct, and have been told by many that I am very "present" and live in the now. WTF does that mean? I sell freaking software to large corporations. I better listen and be present, or there won't be any commission payments to pay the mortgage!

Engineers love to solve problems. Maybe a little too much. If I hear about a problem, someone's personal problem, I go straight into solve. Not always the best mode.

This solving habit is not generally a good thing for me. Lately, I have been training myself to say, "You are smart. What do you think you should do?" Almost everyone knows the answer to their problem.

Besides, most people never follow the advice they get, anyway. Most people have to learn through lumps.

July 15, 2007 12:38 AM  
Anonymous Brion. said...

"Most people have to learn through lumps"... wonderful expression!

After recently reading your comment on JMG, Lynette, there's no way in hell you could be considered reserved!!

When does the article you're obviously going to write for the porn mag appear in print?

(think I need to go and read it again.........! phwaaaaaaaa!)

July 15, 2007 4:53 AM  
Blogger angelfish24 said...

I guess I am in the middle between reserved and outgoing. I tend to be a bit shy at first meeting someone but when I get to know them, I'm as friendly as ever. I tend to have a lot of friends and keep the peace between them.
But, lately, with my friend having terminal cancer and not too long to live I find myself opening up to people, even strangers that inquire why I'm going to vegas. I'll open up about my trip and my friend with cancer. Strange to me that I would do that but I think it is because I need to talk about it and don't want to keep bending the ear of my regular friends.
I wouldn't take you as reserved, I think you are very outgoing and friendly and honest about your life! Really like that about you.

July 17, 2007 2:18 AM  

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