People? Nah.

By HASKEL BURNS,

For as long as I can remember, I’ve never really enjoyed the company of people.

At least not on a large scale, anyway.

I know that probably sounds a bit harsh, but it would be pretty hard to overstate how much of an introvert I am. I’m the kind of person that would rather be at home than go out to a bar or a party, or almost anything else.

I certainly enjoy the company of my small circle of friends, and I enjoy having one or two people over from time to time. I like spending time with my parents, my brother in Slidell and my sister in Chalmette, among others.

But the key there is that my small circle of friends is the same small circle I’ve had forever, and my family is my family. Outside of those few people and work, I’m generally pretty uncomfortable.

It’s not that I’m a hermit or anything – I love going to movies, concerts, amusement parks, zoos, museums and the like. Being around people at those places doesn’t bother me at all, because I’m there to focus on whatever attraction is going on, not the people.

And I also love my job, which involves attending and covering more events and functions than I can name, and interacting with different people every day. That’s never been a problem for me, because I’ve always been comfortable and secure in the fact that I’m at least decent at what I do, and I truly like the people I work with on a daily basis and I think they like me.

Or they put up with me and don’t kick me out of the building, at the very least.

But put me in most any kind of social setting outside of work – parties, galas, ceremonies, get-togethers – and I’m absolutely miserable. I dread going to that kind of stuff, and I count the seconds until I can get out the door and do my own thing again.

To each his own, as they say.

But here’s the thing: for the longest time, and by many people, I was made to feel bad and ashamed for not being a “social butterfly.” Like there’s something wrong with me, or I have some kind of anti-social disorder, because I don’t like being around people I don’t know in a setting I’m not comfortable in.

One person in particular used to always guilt-trip me and make snide remarks because I rarely took her up on invitations to parties and bar-hopping and whatnot. On the few occasions that I did accept her offer, I’d get remarks like “Oh, I can’t believe you’re out of the house,” which made me immediately want to turn around and go home before I even took my seat.

I guess because she was the type of person that just had to get out and socialize almost every night, she couldn’t get it through her head that not everybody else is into that scene. I resented her remarks, but for the sake of keeping the peace, I never said anything about it.

And hey, maybe there is something unusual about rarely wanting to get out into the social scene. Maybe it’s a little weird that I prefer to be at home with my fiancé and cats rather than seeking the company of other humans all the time.

But I honestly don’t think that’s the case. And if it is, I don’t care, because I’m okay with it.

I decided a long time ago that being introverted is just who I am – it’s built into me – and there’s nothing wrong with that as far as I’m concerned. And I certainly won’t ever let anyone give me flak about it again, because I don’t have the time or the room for that in my life.

People need to realize that there’s a difference between being introverted and being a shut-in. I just happen to be a very private person who doesn’t feel the need to be that “social butterfly” just to fit in.

Now, when you see me packing a knapsack to go live in a Sierra Nevada cave, then you can start to worry.

 Haskel lives in Oak Grove with his fiancé, Heather. You’re more likely to find him out taking pictures of birds than at the bar after hours.

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