Tips for Maintaining Your Privacy on a Rock

Someone famous once said, “You never appreciate your anonymity until you don’t have it anymore.” When you live in a wee fishbowl, with a population of about 65,000, boy do you ever come to value your privacy – and protect it more fiercely than you ever have before.

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People do like to chatter on a tiny rock, that’s no secret. If we don’t know what we’re up to or doing, you had better believe someone else sure does. One cannot run a simple errand, go to the grocery store, go for a run, or even go cliff diving without running into someone you know. As an introvert on a rock, this presents a particular problem.

I prefer to “work hard in silence and let success be my noise”. It is always my goal to have no one except those in my chosen inner circle be in the know about the intimate details of my life: what I’m up to, my new project, my new job, my business plan/venture, my new romance, and just about anything else. I quite like it that way and take pleasure in keeping everyone guessing, including my own family that are miles and oceans away.

But this is no easy feat on a little rock that is essentially a small town surrounded by water. If we had our own tabloid rag, they’d be in good business. It takes a concerted effort and some strategic thinking to stay relatively anonymous, a skill I have cultivated over time.

Here are my Top 4 Tips for Maintaining your Privacy on a Rock:

1. Pretend you are a secret spy.

Watch who you share what with. Consider all the information about your private life “Highly Classified”, as though it’s been stamped by the CIA and your safety depends on it. It’s easy to get loose-lipped over drinks and dish in the moment, but you’ve got to be stronger than that. Friendships form quickly on an island, often before you have time to get a feel for who someone really is. Think of it as a thrill to maintain some mystery and not show all your cards all at once. You’re on a mission. You’re an International Woman of Mystery. Yeah, Baby!

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2. Give staying in a chance from time to time.

I enjoy hitting up the night life (what little we have) as much as the next girl. And yes, choosing to stay in can come at the cost of missing out on so much: running into the usual drinking friends/acquaintances, seeing who is out with whom, seeing who might be cheating on their significant other, and the good lord only knows what else. However, embracing our inner hermit can not only save money (the best bars will suck you for $18 per cocktail), it can also save your sanity and a fraction of dignity at the very least. Give people a chance to miss you – it makes seeing people out more exciting when you finally do pop into the social scene again and keeps you off their constant radar.

3. Hide from small talk whenever you can.

I really hate small talk, it’s just a fact of being an introvert. And when you’re constantly bumping into people you’re only tenuously connected to, small talk is the name of the game. When I do see someone I know and I’m really not in the mood for the dreaded small talk, I make a beeline for the nearest alley or aisle in the shop, sometimes even strategically hiding behind a massive display of pot noodles. It’s terrible, I know. But it works – so long as you don’t get caught. Remember #1 – you’re a spy – work on your hiding skills!

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4. Keep your affairs clandestine.

A night out with someone new – whether it be a visitor or a new friend that’s fresh off the boat and has just made the island their home – can really get the gossip mills churning. On a hot date? Even more reason to keep it off the circuit line. My advice? Turn it into a cheeky adventure! Sneak away to a less busy part of the island to a cozy cottage or private beach or smaller island that is more challenging to access. Whether it’s dinner, a quick romp, or a little staycation away from the hubbub, don’t be afraid to get creative.

–   –   –

We all have some personal short term, long term, and lifetime goals. Mine include (like many I’m sure do) – climbing the ladder in my career, marriage, children, saving animals, and traveling somewhere new often. But living on a rock, sometimes it seems I really only have one simple goal above all the others: to go out for just one day, or maybe two nights, without running into someone I know, someone I’ve done business with, or someone I’ve slept with. It’s a tall order, to be sure. Perhaps it’s time for a plane…

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Megan Rumbelow

About Megan Rumbelow

Megan originally hails from tiny Bermuda in the middle of the Atlantic. She spent her first 10 years there enjoying an idyllic childhood, then the next 15+ years shuffling between the US (NYC and NJ), Bermuda for long summers, and Christmas seasons in her late father's native England before finally settling back in Bermuda in 2009. She is a Bermudian by birth, but because she was born to two expat parents (more on that later) and lived a good portion of her teen/adult years living abroad, she jokingly calls herself The Bermudian Expat.

In 2008, nursing a 5-year break-up, she was facing a "mid-life crisis" of sorts as she was nearing her 30th and feeling an uncontrollable itch to start over, even though she loved her career and the hustle and bustle of NYC. Alas, a year later she packed her bags and moved back to her island home with a job contract and a few hundred dollars, not certain how long she would stay. Living back in beautiful Bermuda has been a challenging adjustment with many ups and downs, but with double the amount of triumphs and opportunities she likely never would have had in many other areas such as becoming a rugby player, being part of a wine circle club, and SCUBA diving - to name a few.

While she is a beauty and massage therapist, part-time writer, and bartender - among other talents - she doesn't ever define anyone by their titles, but rather by their character, how they treat others, and what they contribute to the world. An animal enthusiast/activist, lover of nature, the water, and water sports, photography, traveling, and more - she considers herself driven, ambitious, kind, passionate, slightly introverted, and a big dreamer/thinker. Megan prefers deep philosophical conversations over draining small talk and believes that a sense of humor vital to getting through life. She is thrilled to be a part of this fantastic group, to take up her love of writing, and is very enthusiastic to share so many stories about the idiosyncrasies of island life!

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12 thoughts on “Tips for Maintaining Your Privacy on a Rock

  1. My rock is a small town in Appalachia (US) where I am a healthcare provider. Being an introvert in this tiny town is quite the challenge, too. In fact, this is my excuse to my wonderful hubby when I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE and it’s time to board a plane for my rock of freedom (Elbow Cay, Abaco, Bahamas) where NO ONE CARES WHAT IA M UP TO (and where my Appalachian town believes there is no technology access). As I read these posts, I think I shall retire here and keep my island as my safe “get away from it all” zone. Amazing how much small town Allalachia can mimic island life. On the upside, Amazon delivers here now, so hiding out in the aisle of Walmart is easily avoidable. I love your posts and pictures!

    • Also, the problem with being a healthcare provider on a small island (or in your town, Kristy), is people think your small talk will involve juicy news from work. Nope, what happens in those four walls stays there.

    • Thank you Kristy for your kind comments and reply!
      I did use to live in the US, in a suburbia town and nyc. Funny enough, I loved the city life and grew to loathe the suburbia/small town living. It was great while I was there but I doubt I could lI’ve in a small American tow again, but I would a city, because I do like the eneray & freedom of everyone minding their own & such.
      As you say island life and living is indeed conducive to getting away from it all; & comes with a small price as I have noted! But we learn how to manage:) it’s easier (to me) tof deal with the hassles of everyone wanting to know your business on a rock than small town America for some reason. Bottom line is to keep our cards close 🙂

  2. Very beautifully written -humorous as well as wise!

    Logs of us, including me, live on much less populated islands and we have the same — or worse–privacy issues. Luckily for my husband and me, we live on a street with no other houses , in front, sides or back so no one can see who is visiting us or if our car is out of the driveway. If I were single, this would be even more important!

    Another tip — don’t let the gossip matter very much.No matter what you say to anyone, however innocuous , it may be completely and devilishly changed within a day or so. If you live on one island long enough, you will know whom to trust and learn that people who hear strange things about you will tell or ask you about what is going on.

    I am not sure introversion underlies the need for privacy.Even people like me, who on the Myers Briggs personality assessment register just a bit on the side of extroversion, bristle and get angry when we hear how what we say or do, whether true or not, has reached the ears of others.

    But I have learned to laugh or set things straight with people I trust. We all know how to correct bad rumors by starting good ones!! That is another tactic.

    So , please feel free to tell everyone you know on islands everywhere that I am a famous artist, writer, psychotherapist, princess in disguise, master diver and native Martian who just happened to land on an island and know how to transform myself into appearing like an ordinary aging woman!

    • Hi Mary,
      Thank you so much for your comments; I really appreciate your feedback & perspective!
      It’s ever so important to keep our cards close & only share certain things with those in our own inner circle. I’ve always been one of those kind of overly sensitive people (wish I wasn’t!) & so I’ve progressed into simply not letting things -gossip included- get the better of me. People are going to talk & if we sometimes give them something good to talk about, well hey…..
      And privacy is something to be valued and protected no matter our personalities or whether we label ourselves as introverted or extroverted- I wasn’t trying to emphasize that so much as remembering we need to not spoon feed an audience with our business:) I consider myself more introverted but definitely am a bit of the other extreme as well!
      And I too am a mix of different things -also second nature living on a rock! Cheers to you!

  3. Love this post! Our wee rock has a full time population of two (not counting furred and feathered) with the Big Rock bulging with a population of 15,000. Trips into ‘the city’ are exhausting. Not physically but from having to form complete sentences in order to make small talk, not to mention the brain wracking of what subject to pull out of the Polite Hat today? Back at the cay, silence is golden indeed. With the occasional mumble, hand gesture and expletive. Much easier..

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