Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas but seems awkward in groups and isn’t good at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? Who growls or scowls or grunts when accosted with pleasantries by people who are just trying to be nice? If so, do you tell this person he is "too serious," or ask if he is okay? Do you regard him as aloof, arrogant, rude? Do you redouble your efforts to draw him out? If you answered yes to these questions, chances are that you have an introvert on your hands—and that you aren't caring for him properly. Science has learned a good deal in recent years about the habits and requirements of introverts. It has even learned, by means of brain scans, that introverts process information differently from other people (I am not making this up). Introverts may be common, but they are also among the most misunderstood groups in America, possibly the world. I know. My name is Jonathan, and I am an introvert. Oh, for years I denied it. After all, I have good social skills. I am not morose or misanthropic. Usually. I am far from shy. I love long conversations that explore intimate thoughts or passionate interests. But at last I have self-identified and come out to my friends and colleagues. In doing so, I have found myself liberated from any number of damaging misconceptions and stereotypes. Now I am here to tell you what you need to know in order to respond sensitively and supportively to your own introverted family members, friends, and colleagues. Remember, someone you know, respect, and interact with every day is an introvert, and you are probably driving this person nuts. It pays to learn the warning signs. What is introversion? In its modern sense, the concept goes back to the 1920s and the psychologist Carl Jung. Introverts are not necessarily shy. Rather, introverts are people who find other people tiring. Extroverts are energized by people, and wilt or fade when alone. They often seem bored by themselves, in both senses of the expression. Leave an extrovert alone for two minutes and he will reach for his cell phone. In contrast, after an hour or two of being socially "on," we introverts need to turn off and recharge. My own formula is roughly two hours alone for every hour of socializing. This isn't antisocial. It is not a sign of depression. It does not call for medication. For introverts, to be alone with our thoughts is as restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating. Our motto is "I'm okay, you're okay—in small doses." How many people are introverts? I performed exhaustive research on this question, in the form of a quick Google search. The answer: About 25 percent. Or, my favorite answer, "a minority in the regular population but a majority in the gifted population." Are introverts misunderstood? Yes, wildly. That, it appears, is our lot in life. "It is very difficult for an extrovert to understand an introvert," write the education experts Jill D. Burruss and Lisa Kaenzig. (They are also the source of the quotation in the previous paragraph.) Extroverts are easy for introverts to understand, because extroverts spend so much of their time working out who they are in inescapable interactions with other people. But the street does not run both ways. Extroverts have little or no grasp of introversion. They assume that company, especially their own, is always welcome. They cannot imagine why someone would need to be alone; indeed, they often take offense at the suggestion. As often as I have tried to explain the matter to extroverts, I have never sensed that any of them really understood. They listen for a moment and then go back to barking and yipping. Are introverts oppressed? I would have to say so. For one thing, extroverts are over-represented in politics. Look at George W. Bush. Look at Bill Clinton. They seem to come fully to life only around other people. Extroverts therefore dominate public life. This is a pity. If we introverts ran the world it would no doubt be a calmer, saner, more peaceful sort of place. As Calvin Coolidge is supposed to have said, "Don't you know that four fifths of all our troubles in this life would disappear if we would just sit down and keep still?" With their endless appetite for talk and attention, extroverts also dominate social life, so they tend to set expectations. In our extrovertist society, being outgoing is considered normal and therefore desirable, a mark of happiness, confidence, leadership. Extroverts are seen as bighearted, vibrant and warm. To be called a "people person" is a compliment. Introverts are described with words like guarded, loner, reserved, taciturn, self-contained, private—narrow, ungenerous words, words that suggest smallness of personality. Are introverts arrogant? Hardly. I suppose this common misconception has to do with our being more intelligent, more reflective, more independent, more refined, and more sensitive than extroverts. Also, it is probably due to our lack of small talk, a lack that extroverts often mistake for disdain. We tend to think before talking, whereas extroverts tend to think by talking, which is why their meetings never last less than six hours. The worst of it is that extroverts have no idea of the torment they put us through. Sometimes, as we gasp for air amid the fog of their 98-percent content-free talk, we wonder if extroverts even bother to listen to themselves. Still, we endure stoically, because the etiquette books—written, no doubt, by extroverts—regard declining to banter as rude and gaps in conversation as awkward. We can only dream that someday, when our condition is more widely understood, when perhaps an Introverts' Rights movement has blossomed and borne fruit, it will not be impolite to say "I'm an introvert. You are a wonderful person and I like you. But now please shut the hell up." How can I let the introvert in my life know that I support him and respect his choice? First recognize that it's not a choice. It's not a lifestyle. It's an orientation. Second when you see an introvert lost in thought, don't say "What's the matter?" or "Are you all right?" Third don't say anything else, either.So there you have it. That's nothing that couldn't have been said better myself, and a message that needs to get out. For all of you who feel the same who are sick of being treated this way, and sick of being misunderstood. Feel free to share!
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Are you sick of it?
Hello Fellow Beings, I'm back once again, as promised (to myself and anyone who bothers reading this, hehe). So life. Let's talk about it. As an introvert, I sit, and I watch people. No, not in a creepy way, in the way that I analyze, because I'm curious, and because oddly enough, while I don't feel comfortable talking to most people, I like to be in their presence. Growing up, what people thought of me, was a big deal. As I've gotten older though, it's become more and more clear, that it just doesn't matter. That person, the one insulting me, is just a human like me. They have NO power over me. Only the power I give them. So when someone insults you, look them in the eye, never cower. They are no better than you. In fact, if they're wasting their time and energy trying to find things about you to hurt you, they suck. They are a complete waste of space who has no life...if all they have to do, is try and bring you down. You're better than them, so that should give you reason to smile. I can sit here all day and try to pretend that words don't hurt, but they do. Just promise me, whoever reads this, that even though it does hurt, try to look at it as flattery. Someone just "can't" stop thinking about you ;-) My sister comes over last night. She makes the comment that she should just be like me. Just be mean, and not have many friends. Now while I get that I may come off this way, it's often times that introverts are sorely misunderstood. All my life, I've been seen as "mean", a "bitch", "snotty", etc, etc. When all it ever was, was that I was just shy, and honestly scared to talk to people that I didn't know. This is forever the introverts curse in a world of extroverts. A friend of mine (also a fellow introvert) shared this with me a few months back, and it was so spot on, I shared it on my facebook with a side note of "READ AND UNDERSTAND" (can you tell I'm surrounded by a boat load of people that don't understand me????):