Some Thoughts on Introverts

I adore this list of Seven Things Extroverts Should Know About Their Introverted Friends, which M.G. Siegler linked to over the weekend:

  1. We don't need alone time because we don't like you. We need alone time because we need alone time. Don't take it personally.
  2. We aren't judging anyone when we sit quietly. We're just sitting quietly, probably enjoying watching extroverts in action.
  3. If we say we're having fun, we're having fun, even though it might not look that way to you.
  4. If we leave early, it's not because we're party poopers. We're just pooped. Socializing takes a lot out of us.
  5. If you want to hear what we have to say, give us time to say it. We don't fight to be heard over other people. We just clam up.
  6. We're not lonely, we're choosy. And we're loyal to friends who don't try to make us over into extroverts.
  7. Anything but the telephone.

When I find myself in the company of talkative people, I find it difficult to do anything other than listen. I literally cannot come up with anything to say, and I'm often rendered speechless anyway watching people who can just talk and talk and talk and talk. I don't know how they do it.

I strongly dislike being asked if I'm having fun or if I'm OK just because I'm leaning against a wall or sitting quietly by myself. I'm perfectly content observing the room. Really. The act of asking me if I'm OK—and thereby calling attention to my introversion and inadvertently making me feel bad that I'm not telling my latest joke or playing charades—is what makes me not OK. Now I'm uncomfortable.

Folks don't realize how challenging it is to be a quiet person in a room full of talkative strangers. The introvert has to rise to the environment's level of in-your-face friendliness. That's the expectation. It's never the other way around. An introvert can't make everyone sit quietly and read a book.

We don't dislike people. We just feel outnumbered easily. We prefer to go one-on-one.

It's not your fault. We introverts are complicated creatures. And we are selective. Intensely loyal to those who do not try to change who we are.

Getting to know an introvert requires more of an investment—we don't let just anyone in—but there are returns to be had. I like to think it's worth it.

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