It gets really old to have extroverts imply that there’s something wrong with you, you very normal introvert. If you’re fatigued, if you need to recharge in solitude, if you don’t want to run-run-run-do-do-do, the askance glances speak volumes. That’s why I’m shouting from the mountaintops:
Introverts are not broken extroverts!
We’re normal…for us.
The fundamental, organic difference between extroverts and introverts was brought home to me recently during a difficult break-up with a friend. She wanted to do, do, do. For her, the relationship was based on all the things we did together. And she thought it was a great friendship! We’d done so much together!
For me, every relationship is based on common beliefs, mutual interests, interesting conversation, not being hurt by the other person. We didn’t have that ergo I did not think it was a great friendship at all.
You see the disconnect!? Two totally different ways of looking at life and relationships. Frankly, she’d developed an attitude towards me. To her, I was broken. There was something wrong with me. I wasn’t talkative. Energetic. Always up to do-do-do-run-run-run. She mocked my desire to stay home, not realizing that home is where my cool books are and my laptop, that magic Tardis that gives me access to e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. A magic portal giving me access to all the information known to man. She blamed my introversion on my not being properly socialized because I had no siblings.
Or not! Bullshit!
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No. I’m just an introvert and a normal one at that.
You might sum it up by saying that extroverts want to do, while introverts want to be. Just be.
This dynamic played out for years in my family too. On the rare occasions we visited an extroverted family member, she wanted to play games, drive around, visit other people. We just wanted to be with her. Talk with her. Connect. Relate.
Why would she waste our precious time together playing, running and visiting, we often wondered. A classic example of that disconnect between introverts and extroverts, the fundamental misunderstanding.
If introverts aren’t busted extroverts, then extroverts aren’t busted introverts either. We’re both just fine. Imagine a world of only extroverts or only introverts!? It doesn’t bear thinking about! Like chocolate and vanilla, the two personality types form a perfect twist cone. Together we get things done!
The conflict comes when we don’t understand each other’s innate differences, label them, resent them. There are even words for people like us: party-pooper, wallflower, backwards, weird, anti-social, loner. I’m sure there’s many more I can’t think of now.
My extroverted friend is blessed with a plethora of energy, hobbies, games and activities. She has lots of fun, her kind of fun. When she’s not doing or playing, she’s bored. She needs a lot of activities and the playmates to join her in her activities to be happy. She loves to talk, compete, even argue!
As an introvert, you and I are blessed with a plethora of mental energy. We can’t turn our brains off. They race along three tracks simultaneously. Our brains need food and a lot of it, but not a lot of activity, play, people. In the absence of anything interesting to think about, we get headaches. But at parties, we either hide in the bathroom or talk only to children and dogs. We need solitude to recharge our batteries after socializing. That’s normal introversion.
Some people call that Social Anxiety as though extroversion is the baseline, the model for mental health. I’m not so sure. That assumes if you’re not extroverted and talkative, there’s something wrong with you. Is that fair!? True!?! I don’t think so. A diagnosis of Social Anxiety might be more appropriate if an extrovert has become an introvert due to abuse, but again, introverts born-not-made aren’t broken extroverts. We’re normal introverts.
On movies, I love to watch scenes of glittering parties. Everyone is standing, smiling, talking, wearing their best bib-and-tucker with a glass of champagne in their hand. It looks like so much fun. So glamorous!
But realistically, at parties no one ever says anything mental stimulating and I can’t think of one thing to say that anyone would find interesting. “Have you seen the flying buttress architecture at the Cologne Cathedral? Isn’t it amazing!” That’s what I’m thinking about these days. Cathedral architecture. Not exactly cocktail party fare! But to me, it’s fascinating. So I talk to babies and dogs. They’re wonderful listeners.
All that to say, introverts are okay. We’re not broken. We’re not dysfunctional extroverts. We’re just normal. Very normal introverts. Born, not made. “It’s a good thing!”