Frankly, you don’t see what the big deal is. I mean, what’s wrong with being happy with your own company? If anything, you’re lucky: it’s the people out there that seem incapable of spending more than a minute by themselves that have the problem. So what if you’re never going to be school captain or “voted most popular” in your yearbook? None of that crap matters. Isn’t it better that you do all your homework, instead of spending hours on the phone every night? Surely it’s better that you go to college and become a doctor, or something, than go to college and become a frat-boy? You should become popular and charming, so you can end up selling used cars? No thanks.
“It’ll do wonders for your confidence!” your dad insists. “It’ll get you out of the house. And the girls will love it!”
Yeah, right. Like that’s a compelling inducement. You wonder if your dad’s ever met a teenage girl.
But finally, after the 37th “family screening” of The Karate Kid, you give in and agree to take a martial arts class.
But you start taking the class and your sensei is impressed by your level of commitment and focus, and pretty soon you’re his best pupil. And you find you don’t mind so much, because really, it’s just another form of learning – and maybe it won’t unlock the secrets of the universe, but it’s challenging enough. There’s not really a lot of socialising amongst the students, which makes you glad because frankly you don’t really want any, and you can tell your dad’s a little perturbed by the fact that it doesn’t seem to have changed your social life at all, except for the fact that you’re out of the house two afternoons a week; but he doesn’t say anything, and you’re just glad to have him off your back.
Finally you find yourself being told by your quietly proud sensei that there’s nothing more he can teach you, and you’re out in the wide world, all on your own once more. If anything, girls notice you even less than they did before, and sure, you can get into the interminable house-parties your fellow students throw when their parents are out of town, but you find yourself instinctively standing in the shadows, avoiding eye-contact, as invisibly as possible. Hell, you’re so good at it you can make your way through crowded-living rooms and cut into the queue for the keg without anyone even seeming to notice; in fact you can get into just about anywhere without people noticing – after all, there are few places harder to sneak into than a high-school house-party (if you’re a nerd, at least) – but that’s hardly a trick that earns you many friends. But then, that’s not something you wanted in the first place, was it?
Grudgingly, you come to realise your dad was right. Ninja training is the perfect thing for an introvert.