Calling Myself an Introvert Wasn’t Doing Me Any Favours

I’m starting to wonder if it’s not cat videos but introverts that have become Buzzfeed’s bread and butter. From quizzes to articles about what introverts love, think, and worry about, Buzzfeed’s been putting the spotlight on introverts, which is a bit weird since most introverts I know shy away from it.

The upside to all this attention was that it encouraged the destigmatization of introversion and generated a dialogue between me and other self-identified introverts. The downside, and what concerns me, was how much the phrase “I’m glad people understand that I can’t do x because I’m introverted” was used during this dialogue. It’s certainly something I’ve told myself. “I’m introverted so I can’t do parties.” “I can’t give a presentation because I’m introverted.” “You’ll forgive me for not dancing…” You get the idea. It made me wonder how much the label has actually held me back, and whether or not I actually am an introvert, given the following:

1.       I’m Happy to Make the First Move:

Some self-described introverts claim they can’t reach out to new people. I’ve had the same reaction, but it’s worth questioning. Am I hesitating because I’m worried what this person will think of me? Or am I concerned they’re actually a jerk? Only one way to find out. If we don’t connect, no worries. There’s about 6,999,999,999 other people to choose from.

2.       Social Interactions Do Not Suck Out All Of My Energy

I used to think shallow conversations sucked my energy, so I made a point of only having deep ones. And wouldn’t you know it, they sometimes sucked my energy too. I think that the depth of the conversation isn’t nearly as important as the person you’re having it with. I’ve smiled more after making small talk with a friendly barista than I have after speaking with people who think a “meaningful conversation” and “bitch-fest” are one and the same.

3.       You Might See Me in the Club

“Nah, I don’t do clubs,” my buddy told me, “I’m too introverted and the music is always too loud.” I get that, but isn’t it possible it’s not a volume-of-music issue so much as a volume-of-shitty-music issue? I can’t think of anyone who, introverted or not, gets really excited about being trapped somewhere and having to suffer through music they hate. But I’ve been all fist pumps and hip-shaking when a song I like comes on at a venue. And I usually have one word: LOUDER.

4.       I Really Hated This Comic

This “Guide to Interacting With an Introvert” kept showing up on my newsfeed. I don’t understand the appeal. Do we really think people have become so inept that this is required? If so, we have way bigger problems than I realized. Here’s all you need to know: Treat an introverted person as you normally would treat a human being. Insincerity will get you nowhere – you will be found out. Let that person decide if they like you. If not, don’t worry about it.

6,999,999,999 is a lot of people.

Follow Erica on twitter @ericaruthkelly.

2 Comments

  1. Katie
    May 6, 2014

    While I think it’s a good thing that introversion is being talked about, people need a simple reminder: The only thing that separates introverts from extroverts is how they recharge. Introverts use time alone to get energy, while extroverts find not having enough social contact draining. Sure, there are personality traits that seem to go along with each type more often, but focusing on- or even thinking about- those misses the point entirely.
    The only “guide to interacting with an introvert” that matters is this: make people feel comfortable openly stating their needs. It still isn’t considered socially acceptable to come out and say “hey, I really enjoyed your party, but I’m taking off early because I’ve reached my limit for socializing tonight” or to decline an invitation because you just don’t feel up to being around people and being “on” that night. That’s still a thing that’s Not Done, and until it becomes a normal thing to do, introversion needs to be discussed. Just not in all the wrong ways, like those BS examples.

  2. Frank Collier
    May 7, 2014

    Not sure what the intention was behind the below comment. Are there really right and wrong ways to discuss something worth talking about?
    Also, I disagree that there’s only 1 difference between introverts and extroverts. That said, I’m more inclined to refer to individuals as being introverted or extroverted, but labelling them like they’re 2 different species of human is the very issue this article seems to be addressing.
    I spent most of my adolescence being very introverted, spending hours alone, having borderline anxiety attacks over simple things like going to the corner store.
    As an adult, I do lots of extroverted things: public speaking, live performance, jobs that require lots of interaction with strangers…
    I’m still the same person, and I still recharge by having alone time and not being on. It seems like a human being can consist of  many competing and converging enegries, behaviours and motivations and I think they’re all worth talking about.

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