Monday, January 23, 2012

Please Listen to My Intro-Version (see what I did there????)

I want to share a blog post I found through a Facebook friend, which explains a few things I have been trying to articulate about being an introvert. A lot of people know and use the terms "introvert" and "extrovert" these days, and can identify the categories under which they and their loved ones fall. But that doesn't mean that everybody understands the nuances of what it really means to be one or the other. Credit for the original post belongs to Carl King, whom you can read all about here
Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.
This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days. (Bagel Fairy's note: Srsly. You might regret bringing up certain topics with me.)

Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.
Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite. (BF's note: Please be polite, or at least courteous. But you don't need to talk to me for the sake of it.)

Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.
Introverts often don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries. They want everyone to just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings, so Introverts can feel a lot of pressure to fit in, which they find exhausting. (BF's note: So true, and part of why it amazes me I have done so much customer service.)

Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people.
On the contrary, Introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in. (BF's note: Absolutely. I love people. I find them fascinating. I eavesdrop on people's conversations in restaurants and at work because their conversations are interesting - not because I want to gossip. And I do value the friends I have, and remain loyal even to casual friends unless I am given a reason not to.)

Myth #5 – Introverts don’t like to go out in public.
Nonsense. Introverts just don’t like to go out in public FOR AS LONG. They also like to avoid the complications that are involved in public activities. They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.” They’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for Introverts. (BF's note: Precisely. I love music and movies, but hate loud rock concerts and crowded movie theaters. I'd rather absorb something quietly than get caught up in the insanity of excessive theatrics. Sometimes I even see movies and/or go out to dinner alone. And you know what? It's cheap and relaxing, not lonely.)

Myth #6 – Introverts always want to be alone.
Introverts are perfectly comfortable with their own thoughts. They think a lot. They daydream. They like to have problems to work on, puzzles to solve. But they can also get incredibly lonely if they don’t have anyone to share their discoveries with. They crave an authentic and sincere connection with ONE PERSON at a time. (BF's note: Yes - I do just want to be alone sometimes. But I can, and do, get lonely; this can happen whether I am by myself or in the company of others.)

Myth #7 – Introverts are weird.
Introverts are often individualists. They don’t follow the crowd. They’d prefer to be valued for their novel ways of living. They think for themselves and because of that, they often challenge the norm. They don’t make most decisions based on what is popular or trendy. (BF's note: I'm weird. I know I'm weird. I know that I have strange habits and thoughts and can be hard to live with. But I know what works for me, and I'd rather surround myself with people who accept this than buy security with conformity.)

Myth #8 – Introverts are aloof nerds.
Introverts are people who primarily look inward, paying close attention to their thoughts and emotions. It’s not that they are incapable of paying attention to what is going on around them, it’s just that their inner world is much more stimulating and rewarding to them. (BF's note: Pretty much. When I am concentrating on a thought or idea, my face might be blank or even twisted up like I'm upset. I'm more likely to be concentrating if I'm doing this than if I'm saying, "Uh huh," over and over, because with the former I am engaged, and with the latter I am acting engaged.)

Myth #9 – Introverts don’t know how to relax and have fun.
Introverts typically relax at home or in nature, not in busy public places. Introverts are not thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. If there is too much talking and noise going on, they shut down. Their brains are too sensitive to the neurotransmitter called Dopamine. Introverts and Extroverts have different dominant neuro-pathways. Just look it up. (BF's note:  I'll take his word for it on the Dopamine, but it makes sense.)

Myth #10 – Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts.
A world without Introverts would be a world with few scientists, musicians, artists, poets, filmmakers, doctors, mathematicians, writers, and philosophers. That being said, there are still plenty of techniques an Extrovert can learn in order to interact with Introverts. (Yes, I reversed these two terms on purpose to show you how biased our society is.) Introverts cannot “fix themselves” and deserve respect for their natural temperament and contributions to the human race. In fact, one study (Silverman, 1986) showed that the percentage of Introverts increases with IQ. (BF's note: Amen, brother.)
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I used to think I was an extrovert because I had a lot of friends growing up, with whom I could talk for literally hours about whatever was in our world at the time. I thought I was an extrovert because I liked meeting new people, and found them interesting. Above all, I believed that all extroverts were socially adept and that, conversely, introverts were invariably awkward and antisocial; therefore, as someone who had a social life, I couldn't not be an extrovert. Introverts, I believed, did not go to school dances and birthday parties - they stayed home reading (never mind that I was known to read for the better part of the day, once I really got into a book).

Coming to such conclusions, I ignored that my favorite time of day as an adolescent was the hour or so after school I had to myself, before everyone else got home from work and practice. I didn't think it significant that I spent much of my free time holed up in my room, or that I had a hard time asking other people for help because I preferred to solve my own problems. Based on what I thought an extrovert was and who I thought I was, my version of myself made sense.

Some time in high school, perhaps because I was old enough not to depend on others for everything, I realized that I was no extrovert. When you're young, your romances (if you have them) and friendships can change weekly, so the opportunity to see yourself reflected off of others is limited. When you - and, conversely, your relationships - grow up, you learn who you are by the ways you click and butt heads with other people. It was after I realized that I was more like my introverted relatives than the extroverts in my life that I learned the truth.

This was no small thing to discover. Navigating an extroverted world as an introvert can be a very tricky process. You're the one who votes red in a blue state, or blue in a red state, or yellow or purple or not at all in a red or blue state. You're the left-handed one using standard right-handed tools. You're the strange one - not the one people take places to show off. Friends fear you're stand-offish, family members worry you're anti-social, significant others think you're cagey, and strangers sense you're stuck up or rude.

You're passed over for awards and accolades because you had the ideas but didn't shout them loudly enough; your accomplishments are obscured by those of extroverts and "assertive" types because they cling to them as if that is all they are. Some think you're slow and/or stupid because you just want to take a second to think about something before you take action. To conventionally succeed in this culture you must usually bulldoze your way toward some well-defined objective, but you'd rather enjoy the scenery a little bit first, and if you do, you're flaky, unreliable, childish, simple. There are certainly worse things than being an introvert, but there are better, easier things too.

1 comment:

  1. This is the most perfect post ever. I felt like going "WORD" the whole time.

    ReplyDelete

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