Sitting in the doctor’s office today (it was a day of endless doctor’s office visits), I found an article in Time called “The Upside of Being an Introvert (and Why Extroverts are Overrated), written by Bryan Walsh. Being an introvert, I was intrigued. Because roughly 70% of people are extroverted, I’m clearly in the minority. And, it feels that way. I was interested to read what the author had to say.
For the 70% of you who do not “get” introversion or who confuse shyness with introversion, the article sums it up nicely:
“For one thing, introverted does not have to mean shy, though there is overlap. Shyness is a form of anxiety characterized by inhibited behavior. It also implies a fear of social judgment that can be crippling. Shy people actively seek to avoid social situations, even ones they might want to take part in, because they may be inhibited by fear. Introverts shun social situations because, Greta Garbo–style, they simply want to be alone.”
I am not shy. I do not go to a party and stand quietly in the corner because I think I’m better than you or, worse yet, because I’m afraid of what you think of me. I stand there quietly because I am, plain and simple, uncomfortable. Although I am a bright, articulate person, I have a difficult time starting and maintaining conversations with strangers. I also do not care to do so. I prefer to observe. My inability to chit chat at social functions has long given others ample reason to decide that I am stand-offish or bitchy. Not true. I’m simply not adept at small talk. Social functions exhaust me. They make me need a nap, and I don’t nap.
My introverted nature has caused me problems with other adults on more than one occasion. Once I had an extroverted woman approach me (after years of being casual acquaintances within the same group) and ask me to explain to her why I talked to everyone BUT her. I stood there dumbfounded for a few seconds before finally managing to squeak out that they had all talked to me first. I’m not sure that was the answer she expected, but it was the truth. I more recently had another extroverted woman confront me and tell me that she didn’t know what to make of me because I wouldn’t socialize with her on a regular basis. She felt hurt and offended, as if she had done something wrong. I had to tell her that she hadn’t done a thing wrong. I merely don’t enjoy idle chit chat. I’d rather do something productive. I’m sure that offended her even more, but by that point I realized I could not make her approve of how I operate. And, I’m not going to apologize for introversion because it is not a communicable disease. Hey extroverts…I’m different than you are. I get it. But, my reticence is not about you nor is it your problem.