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.
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!
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!
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.
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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…