Wednesday, July 30, 2008

So Called Introverts

It's nearly impossible to identify for sure who is and who isn't an introvert. Even an extreme introvert is hard to spot at times. Take myself as an example. Every social activity that I partake in makes it more difficult for people to peg me. Even venturing out into the world helps create a blurry image of the type of person I am. My own claims to be one of the more extreme introverts you'll ever meet mean nothing. And I can't blame anyone for not believing me. After all, I don't believe others who make similar claims!

I hear it all of the time. A friend once told me that he considers himself to be introverted. If my facial expression didn't convey my disbelief, I think I said something like, "You?" He's one of the most outgoing and social guys that I've befriended. He's nearly always talking and joking with someone, and often he's either the life of a party or its clown.

As another example, I've heard many celebrities make the same claim, actors who are apparently creating a ruckus in public every day and who seem to crave attention from news and media -- not for work or to garner publicity for a film, as far as I can tell. Although I don't know them personally and could never say for certain, their claims seem to defy believability.

I realize a wide spectrum may exist for introversion, but sometimes I'm forced to wonder if anyone truly understands what it means. Other times, I begin to think that claiming to be an introvert has become fashionable, that everyone wants to "join the club". I should probably be reluctant to call myself one.

Though it sounds very elitist, perhaps I should come up with some guidelines on spotting real introverts. Or the extreme ones, at least.

 

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

In regards to the claims of celebrities to be introverted whilst pursuing one of the seemingly more extroverted professions, I think that there is a tendency toward prejudice of introverts in our world, unfortunately (I think this probably comes from Darwin---more social creatures tend to reproduce more easily), and I think that sometimes people who don't take the time to identify their personality type just think that something is 'wrong' with them, and spend their entire lives trying to push outward and become more social, despite the fact that this endeavor always will be fundamentally unnatural for them.

Hypothetical said...

Anon, that's an interesting perspective and well said. I've also had plenty of experiences in pushing myself to be more social, in testing out my boundaries; I suppose I could just blame Darwin.

AmongTheRuins said...

I have always been an uncomfortably extreme introvert - uncomfortable in that people constantly complained about it. When I was a teenager I decided I had to learn how to be a 'social creature'. So I read what I could find, and pondered a lot and created my 'public persona' - a gregarious and out-going creature who can chat it up with complete strangers. Side effect: I wear myself out to the point of complete exhaustion. I need months to be to myself sometimes just to recover from being too social for too long. It's a double-edged sword. People mostly do not complain about me being 'too quiet' or 'shy' but I am depleted so heavily after social interactions from going so against my nature to appear 'normal'.

Hypothetical said...

AmongTheRuins, I know the feeling of exhaustion that you refer to. I also force myself to be social, and probably more often than I should. Sometimes I doubt that full recovery from it is possible unless I were able to cut myself off from the rest of the world for a few months.

You seem to have adjusted well, though, but maybe some more balance would lessen the recovery time that you require later.

Anonymous said...

@Hypothetical - I have done exactly that! Cutting myself off from the world for a few months (by going travelling) is in fact one of the ways I can survive, as I live in a very extrovert-friendly and introvert-unfriendly society.I would be interested to know about other compensatory strategies used by introverts.

Zeri said...

Anon, travelling is a great choice, but my experience has been that it doesn't cut you off from the world. I think probably the best way to get by is to find some way to make your day-to-day life suit your personality.

sparris said...

I've known for nearly twenty years that I'm introverted but it wasn'nt until quite recently that I realized(through late-night googling at work) just how many of my personality traits and personal preferences are due to introversion. This was a great revelation to me and helped me shed the last guilt I harbored about not liking big parties, strangers, going out, large crowds, socializing for extended periods of time, having difficulties adapting to changes etc etc. I can flip my internal 'extroversion switch' to cope at work but I really prefer to be by myself. I remember chatting with people in my art class of long ago, one girl said she would feel uncomfortable if she was alone for more than a couple of hours and I thought to myself: "2 hours? I'd love to be alone for two weeks!"

Zeri Kyd said...

Sparris, it's amazing that introverts should feel guilt at all, just for being themselves. If the prospect of getting away for long periods of time seems so enticing, maybe being able to flee all that guilt is a contributing factor. But I agree, being alone for two weeks or more can be lovely.