'Shyness is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation, while introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating. Shyness is inherently painful; introversion is not.' - Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
People are always telling me that I should get out more. It’s usually accompanied by a sage nod and a string of well-meaning and yet, profoundly ignorant statements (stemming from absurd assumptions about introversion) that are supposed to motivate me into getting out: “Just come, meet some relatives, TALK! You’ll feel happy,” or “I know what’s missing in your life. Gossip!” and my personal favourite (because of how high it scores in the absurd-o-meter), “Don’t be such an aunty. When was the last time you got hammered?” It always takes me every ounce of self-restraint to not point out the obvious: That introverts are not unhappy people leading empty lives that are boring.
Here’s the thing: There has been a sudden explosion of memes and articles on the lines of 27 Signs of Introversion and 15 Things Only Introverts Understand and yada yada yada and I keep thinking: Why? WHY are we explaining the difference between ‘introversion’ and ‘depression’ to people who are clearly too busy gossiping and getting hammered to have ever brushed up against the concept of a dictionary? And why should we have to come up with excuses for who we are EVERY TIME we turn down an invitation to ‘get out.’
I mean, it’s not like they consulted us when they decided that out is better than in. I get that it’s better for some people, but if they can’t see it that way, I’ve decided that I’m going to stop apologizing for choosing The Good Wife over Saturday night with people who want to talk about their relationships, get drunk and take selfies.
See, I keep seeing pictures with captions on the lines of ‘This is the life’ on my FB newsfeed all the time. The pictures are usually of exotic vacations, a bottle of chilled beer, sinfully rich desserts, partying with friends and on and on. Most people go on to comment and agree that it is, indeed, the life. I look at that and I want to make a meme of my own with the same caption: A picture of Tom Hanks in Castaway, talking to Wilson, the volleyball. An island to myself where no one can call and ask me if I’d like to get out! What’s not to like? This. Is. The. Life.
This brings me to the question that no one is asking: How did introverts get into this mess in the first place? You know? Being treated like socially impaired half-people, who need to be coaxed out of our toxic shells where we are clearly DYING. I mean, the typical introvert feels like he might lose his mind if he doesn’t get time to himself, and the typical extrovert feels that way if he’s left alone with his thoughts for long periods of time – as proven by people who go “I don’t know HOW you sit at home all the time. I’d go MAD. I mean, it’s unhealthy!” Waitaminute. You are basically saying that you are not interesting enough to keep yourself interested and somehow I’m the one with the problem?
Probably, the only people more annoying to a true blue introvert than the Extrovert Evangelists, are the Wannabe Introverts. They exist and they are a ‘thing.’ They’ve watched too many shows (Breaking Bad, Big Bang Theory, Newsroom and on and on) that have established nerds as ‘cool’ in their heads; and now they think the only way to claim said coolness is by convincing everyone on social media about the big, introverted nerdy FREAKS that they are (Of course, this would be a lot more convincing if they stopped updating their status about introversion from 3 different clubs they checked into on the same night).
I better stop now, my head feels full: another side-effect of staying in.
‘You’re told that you’re “in your head too much,” a phrase that’s often deployed against the quiet and cerebral. Of course, there’s another word for such people: thinkers.’ – Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking