Being an introvert is the latest uncool thing that it’s cool to cop to. Is introversion just today’s social equivalent of big glasses, skinny pants, and vintage shoes?
I understand the flak – introverts have definitely hit their tipping point, and too much of anything can be eye-rolling – but it bothers me.
It’s only recently (four years – see here, here and here) that I realized it was okay to be an introvert. Quiet tipped the concept mainstream, and I’m glad it did – I’m definitely not of the “I was an introvert before it was cool” camp. It’s just that I hoped to enjoy the feeling of realizing that I wasn’t wrong or broken for longer before feeling ashamed of it again.
I’d hoped that with everyone hearing the word, people would get a clearer idea of what it is and what it isn’t, but as yet, that hasn’t happened, as Gawker made clear with its 15 signs you’re an extrovert post. I guess it’s only fair, because there have been – as it points out – quite a few obnoxious lists about introverts. Turnabout, and all that.
But to clear the air, I present a brief list of what Gawker got wrong. (I know there are a lot of opinions about what makes an introvert or an extravert. My definition, as you’ll see, is pretty simple.)
10 Unhappy Truths About Introverts and Extraverts
People can definitely be any or all of those combinations and often are. But they’re not synonymous and they’re not excuses. You don’t get to blame your ADD on your extraversion, and you don’t get to blame your depression on your introversion.
I’m an introvert. Interaction with people costs me energy. But I don’t mind public speaking; I was told this week (not for the first time) that I’m too cheerful and sunshiny; I like leading teams; I actually quite like small talk. I don’t dislike people. I just have to go off by myself when I’m worn out.
If you’re extraverted, the energy of being social fills up your tank and feels refreshing. If you’re introverted, the energy of being social burns your gas and wears you out. That’s it.
Now, to be clear, like probably everybody else, I have plenty of social impediments – I’m cripplingly self-conscious and definitely not a night person and deeply odd in a hundred ways. But those aren’t the same as being introverted.
Introverts are having their day, and I can see how that could get annoying if you aren’t of that group and, by definition, are therefore someone who feels like they’re missing out when they’re not the center of attention. But give us a break. We’re just excited that there’s a word to describe how we feel. We’ll get worn out from the limelight and give it back to you soon enough.