Five Things I Wish People Knew About Me

Amber Naslund had a great post a little while back, “What I Wish More People Knew About Me” in which she lists a handful of things about herself that maybe weren’t that well known to others, but should be.

Social media can create really superficial vantage points. We can see a few tweets or a blog post or a Facebook status from someone and think we’ve got them all figured out. So much nuance can be lost in the midst of snippets of electronic and fleeting communication.

Absolutely true. We live with a stream of constant tweets, check-ins and status updates, and yet how much about these “friends” do we really truly know? And how much about ourselves do they know? My guess? Not much. And so Amber lists a handful of things about herself that help us get a better sense of who she is, then in true internet fashion issues a call for the rest of us to share alike.

So, doing my best to avoid sounding narcissistic, here are a handful of things I wish people knew about me. Warning: candid revelations below.

I’m an introvert.

From Wikipedia:

Introverts are people whose energy tends to expand through reflection and dwindle during interaction. Introverts tend to be more reserved and less outspoken in large groups.

Yep. That’s me. I’m generally a pretty quiet person (though, in the right circumstances, I’ve been known to get loud). Given a choice, most of the time I would prefer to be left to myself rather than out in a crowd. Not out of any sort of agoraphobic tendencies, it’s simply that people are tiring.

If you haven’t seen it yet, you should really read Jerry Brito’s excellent post “Top Ten Myths About Introverts” in which he very accurately clears up a few common misconceptions about my kind of people. Namely, introverts aren’t antisocial. We just take our socializing in smaller doses than others. I’m trying to work on this.

Unfortunately, introversion comes with its downsides. I tend to spend a lot of time over-analyzing things, and let some things stick around in my head for far longer than they have any right to. (No, those things won’t be listed here.)

I don’t display emotions readily.

People who know me in real life would likely be able to tell you that I’m not exactly an emotional person. This ties pretty closely to my note above about being an introvert. I have a pretty flat outward emotional state. This can be helpful sometimes, and it can be detrimental sometimes. The appearance of indifference doesn’t necessarily mean I’m not excited (or, just as easily, completely uninterested) in what’s going on. It just doesn’t show either way as far as most people can tell.

Once I’ve gotten to know someone, and they’ve earned some amount of trust, I might warm up a bit and let some emotion show through once in a while. But trust is hard earned, and it takes a long while to get to that point. Being an introvert who doesn’t love being around people all the time means it takes even longer for people to be around me long enough to accumulate that amount of trust.

Truthfully, even writing this post is betraying more information than I’d normally let on.

I love to cook, but don’t do it as much as I’d like.

I know, I know, there’s this notion of a bachelor sitting at home, surrounded by empty pizza boxes and Chinese takeout containers because he doesn’t know where the kitchen even is. That’s not me. I actually really do enjoy cooking (not so much baking), but being a single guy means I don’t really get to do so all that often.

Fortunately, several of my close friends are in the same predicament (guys and girls alike) so we’ve started a semi-regular “dinner night” where we get together at someone’s house to hang out and make dinner. The new rule is that whatever we make has to be a brand new recipe we’ve never tried before – something we’ve wanted to try but didn’t want to have 12 servings of leftovers if it turned out poorly. Most of my dishes are really just me looking in the pantry, finding a bunch of disparate ingredients, and looking for some way to combine them in an edible fashion. It usually turns out okay, and there’s always PB&J if it goes south.

I have a serious case of “impostor syndrome”.

The idea of impostor syndrome is that the person tends to feel like a fraud who’s somehow managed to trick people around them into believing they’re more competent than they truly are. This describes me quite well, though I’m sure there’s some weird mind-bending Heisenberg effect where being aware of my tendency towards impostor syndrome makes me less so.

It’s not entirely without basis. I’m a web developer by trade, but my knowledge of the craft isn’t as strong as it should be. I know PHP, but rely heavily on Google to confirm the syntax of many functions. I have a working knowledge of Javascript, but haven’t put much effort thus far into learning industry-standard frameworks and libraries like jQuery, YUI or any number of others. (I’m working on correcting this, albeit slowly.)

So while I’ve been working as a web developer for the last few years, and performing as an absolute rockstar as such (though for much of that time I was the only actual developer on the team), I have trouble truly believing in my abilities. I know I’m a smart guy and can pick up most of what I need, but that belief that I’m smarter than the average person also tends to make me think maybe I’m just doing a really great job at fooling everybody.

Your word matters to me.

Back in ye olden days, people’s word was law. Business arrangements were conducted on the strength of someone’s word and a handshake, and there were consequences if you violated that agreement. Today, not so much. There’s not a lot of stock left in people’s word; promises made are just empty words.

So I’m a bit old fashioned in that I still put stock in people’s word, and I take it personally when people don’t honor their commitments. If you tell me you’re going to do something or be somewhere at a particular time, I assume you’re going to stick to that. When you fail to follow through on your promise, I count that as a strike against you. (The flipside is of course that I take my own word very seriously, and if I tell you I’m going to do something, you can count on the fact that it’s going to be done.)

So yeah.

This was originally going to be titled “Ten Things I Wish People Knew About Me”, but that got knocked down to “Five Things” I was comfortable sharing at this particular juncture. Maybe I’ll warm up to sharing more at some point, but… maybe don’t hold your breath either. Is there anything in particular you want to know about me?

In the spirit of sharing, I’ll extend Amber’s call for others to do the same and share their own notes on what they’d like the world to really know about them. Feel free to use the comments below as your sounding board, or leave a link to a post of your own.


Join the conversation

comment 5 comments
  • Pete Prodoehl

    Great list… I was an introvert, but I haven’t been tested lately.

    I question the impostor thing though, because I think “knowing the answers” and “finding and understanding the answers” can be quite similar. I mean, I am terrible at math, but 95% of the time I have a calculator in front of me (computer, phone, etc) so I don’t sweat it.

  • Tom Henrich

    The difference, though, is that “finding and understanding” the answers takes significantly longer, and is thus less efficient, than inherently “knowing the answers”. Especially in the case of employment and job productivity, that can be a make-or-break kind of thing, and therein lies my (perhaps overblown) issue.

  • Sarah

    Seriously, Tom. Awesome blog. Much of which hits pretty close to home.

    The Impostor Syndrome is hard. You have to just keep trying to convince yourself that you really are competent at what you’re doing. And if that doesn’t work, accept that you may be a professional at bullshitting, but if you’ve gotten this far with that, maybe you’re not actually fooling anyone. That’s just what the world needs to get by.

    Dinner night, you say? Is that one of those things I can invite myself to? 😉

  • Brian Zalewski

    If I didn’t know any better, I’d think we were the same person. All of those items fit me to a “T”.

    In larger groups, people tend to think I’m in a bad mood or bored, and ask me what’s up. It’s gone so far that my wife bought me a t-shirt that says “I’m really excited to be here” and I wear it as a joke. It does help ease the tension.

    As for Impostor Syndrome, I’ve never heard a name for it, but I know exactly what you’re talking about. In my freelance web developing, I’ve done a few things and people are usually very happy. I know I do good, solid work and I know my stuff., but deep down I hate making the commitment to promise someone something because I feel like I may not be able to meet their expectations (especially for money.) Maybe it’s not the same thing, but it sounds the same.

    Great post. I may need to do something similar.

  • Rachel

    Great post, Tom. I’d say we’re very similar..feels like something I could have wrote about myself. Being an introvert has its good and bad, but I think more good than bad because introverts are highly retrospective, therefore very good with being able to understand and relate with people on a more personal level.

    I like the idea of writing something up about myself. It’ll be interesting to see what I come up with.


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