Tuesday, September 27, 2005

It's not that I don't like you, I just don't want to be around you

So the other day, Jes and I were discussing whether or not bee and I would be going to the fair with the big group. I said something to jes about how all that extroversion might be too much for me, and that it might overwhelm me and tire me out. Jes, I hope you weren’t offended. I can see why that sounded like an insult, but it’s wasn’t. I just meant that I'm not an extrovert.

Anyway, the conversation got me thinking about introversion versus extroversion. In our culture, there’s a definite bias towards being extroverted. People are always encouraged to go out, mix with others, socialize, and so on. The thing is, that attitude necessarily implies that there’s something wrong with being introverted, that it’s an abnormality, that it should be discouraged, or at the very least, the introverted person would be so much happier if she’d just get out more. This can be a problem for introverted children whose teachers and parents don’t understand. Basically, it’s a one-sided approach—it’s the attitude that “fun” is only what the extrovert considers fun, and that’s the kind of “fun” that the introvert needs more of.

So I started looking around on the internet, and it turns out that (according to most sources I found) most people are extroverted, and it’s pretty difficult for extroverts to understand introverts. So I decided to take a few minutes to point out a few things for those of you just can’t understand us.

First of all, forget the generalization that introversion is synonymous with shyness. The terms introversion and extroversion actually refer to the source of our energy. If you are an extrovert, you get your energy from the world outside of you and feel drained when you go too long without being around others. Introverts, on the other hand, get their energy from within and feel drained when they have to deal with a lot of people. So basically, you, the extrovert, like going to social gatherings because they energize you. But for introverts, social interaction is a draining experience. It’s not that we don’t enjoy it, it just tires us out. Obviously, this situation can create problems when extroverts and introverts try to socialize together. As one website put it, “Both like people, but the Introvert prefers the intimacy of talking in depth with a few people, and then tires rather quickly. The Extravert is gregarious and enjoys meeting a lot of different people, and feel energized by the experience. Half way through the evening the Introvert wants to go home; the Extravert wants to stay, and in fact would like to go on to another party after this one.” [see http://www.trytel.com/~jfalt/Ene-med/e-i.html]

Let me reiterate: despite overwhelming public perception, introversion is not the same as shyness. But introverts are often uncomfortable going to a social event where they don’t know anyone—which is why, if you are the only person I know at a party, I will stick to you like glue and panic when you wander off.

Of course, a lot of people exhibit characteristics of both. When I’m around a small group of close friends, for example, I’m the chattiest person in the bunch, and I have a great time and don't get that tired.

Some Characteristics of Introverts:
· Are territorial - desire private space and time
· Have two personas -- private and public
· Are private people who enjoy doing things by themselves and who reveal inner most thoughts to only a few
· Are happy to be alone - they can be lonely in a crowd
· Become drained around large groups of people; dislike attending parties; Need time alone to recharge
· Prefer to work on own rather than do group work
· Act cautiously in meeting people
· Do not enjoy being the center of attention [I cannot stress this enough]
· See reflection as very important
· Become absorbed in thoughts and ideas
· Communicate best one-on-one
· Get agitated and irritated without enough time alone or undisturbed—become grouchy if around people too long, especially after contact with many people
· Select activities carefully and thoughtfully
· Rarely interrupt and hate to be interrupted
· Learn by watching and mentally rehearsing
· Are humiliated easily -- they do not want to appear foolish

And speaking of not being the center of attention, it’s also stressful for this particular introvert (and others that I’ve talked to) to be with an extrovert in public if the extrovert is doing something to attract attention to himself, because that indirectly attracts attention to the introvert, who really, really, really doesn’t want it. It’s different if I’m with one or two close friends—I will often monopolize the conversation.

And maybe some of you extroverts out there can explain something to me. Often when I have been subjected to too much concentrated attention from others, I will blush because I’m very uncomfortable. And then, some ill-mannered person inevitably thinks it’s a good idea to point out that I’m blushing. So even more attention is focused on me. Un!Comfortable! Why do you do that? And especially, why do you laugh at my obvious discomfort? I don’t understand that at all.

So what’s my point in talking about this? Well, I guess I don’t have one, except that if you are an extrovert, I hope you found this post helpful, and not just really long and boring.


jes said...

no, no. i wasn't offended at all. about 5 years ago i learned a very quick (and somewhat harsh) lesson about the difference between introverts and extroverts when i was stuck in a far, far away country. i was the extrovert. wanna guess what my roommate was?

it took a while for me to grasp onto the differences and understand her, but i eventually did and have been much more sensitive to introverts since. i even married one!

Amstaff Mom said...

I feel like Jekyll and Hyde sometimes. I really do. My natural personality is complete introvert. But I have worked on this, and in some occasions, it's very easy for me to be extroverted. The "Have two personas - public and private" one really hit home with me. And I crave alone time like I crave Mexican food. I am a game player, and love parties. It's funny to see me and "Brian" tag-team. We only just realized that we do this. I know what it's like to be the one that is too shy to introduce themselves, so I'll make the effort to get to know new people and get acquainted. "Brian" completely balks at this and turns into a giant clam. But when he gets to know them, then he's the life of the party and I switch back to quiet mode. It seems to work for us though.

I really liked your post, and identified with it. It's comforting to know, for sure.

And I hope you and Bee go. If not, then we really need to get together, and soon.

Katie said...

Hmmm so can you be an introverted extrovert? I mean hello I feel asleep when I first met you how "alone and one-on-one" is that? Ha Ha.

I would love for you and Bee to come to the fair, if just to experience it with two all-time-fair-going-champs but I understand your hesitation with that large of a group and filled with many wacky extroverts (which by the way I fall at the bottom of the list)

JLR said...

jes: I'm glad you weren't offended!

AM: Me, too.

Katie: Bee and I want to go to the fair that day, but she has to work (at the fair) that day. She's going to try to get someone to switch with her during the corny dog eating contest.

Amstaff Mom said...

I mean hello I feel asleep when I first met you how "alone and one-on-one" is that?


Luke said...

JLR: Thanks for your comment on my site. I enjoyed your discourse on introverts. The thing you said about not pointing it out when someone blushes...yeah...that kinda hit home. I'm definitely an extrovert, and I don't even remember the last time I blushed. I tend to just not think about how awkward the other person might feel.

btw my word verification is dtoggfgg

Deals On Wheels said...

I took one of those aptitude test once, and it revealed that I was *gasp* an introvert. Because there was never really a question about it.

It is kind of funny, though, because I don't know a lot of extroverts. I would have guessed that the world was populated with more introverts than extroverts - not the other way around. Alas. I am exhausted knowing that I'm outnumbered.

Personally, I think your problem stems from all of these "BLOG Parties" that you keep going to. RR told me earlier this morning that you guys are now importing BLOG people from other states for the Fair (to watch the corn dog eating contest). Ummm...what?! Because I am an introvert by nature, the very thought of meeting people that I've only met virtually makes me feel like I need a nap. Like, now...

Although, RR did say that none of you guys (that she's met so far) seemed super scary or anything. But she has a twin, so it isn't fair. Having a twin is like having an instant ice-breaker. All I have are eyebrows that I may (or may not) have accidentally wiped-off three seconds before formal introductions. Because THAT is fun...

However, that said, I'm covering for RR on the day of the corny dog eating contest. I'm supposed to get to work early that morning, so she can be on time (apparently, the contest only lasts for a couple of seconds or something). Ew. I think I am glad that I will be missing it. I don't eat corny dogs in the first place (much less in bulk).

Although, I AM intrigued by the jalapeno eating contest. I do have a weakness for them. Yum…

Deals On Wheels said...

By the way, RR and I do NOT "work at the fair".

I just thought I would clarify...

RR said...

Luke: dtoggfgg? Tog fog? As in a fog for one's togs? Febreeze?

Deals, if you enter the jalapeno eating contest, I will be there to watch. I'm not going to watch you throw up, though. That would be gross.


Amstaff Mom said...

Deals, so is it o.k. if this introvert meets you, the fellow introvert on Fair Day? Or is that not an introverted thing to do?

And Chicken and Bee aren't going to "all these blog parties". We watched Clue together once at Jes'. I thought we all clicked really well too. Because if you love Clue, you love me.

Eyebrows wiped off? If only it were that easy. For me it is pluck, repeat 300 times, pluck.

JLR said...

Luke: thanks for stopping by! I really enjoyed your site. I think that most extroverts don't think about how uncomfortable they may be making introverts--not because they are rude or insensitive, but just because they don't know.

AM: Maybe Deals would at least allow us to walk by and wave at her. If we all come up to her in a big group, that may be too overwhelming. Plus, she's really funny, so I'll expecting her to be funny (not to put pressure on you or anything!). By the way, I thought we clicked really well, too!

Katie: by the way, I am not taking offense at the fact that you met us and promptly fell asleep. I'm not taking it personally as an sign that we're just that boring.

Abparm (the newest ab workout?)

JLR said...

FYI, the sentence "First of all, forget the generalization that introversion is synonymous" should have read "First of all, forget the generalization that introversion is synonymous with shyness." I'm correcting it.

Katie said...

Wow that was a lot to take in.


IC and IB not at all boring. Very fun, very sweet, likes the dairy - see I remember that at least

Fair - Deals we're not scary but Eddie is rather large so he might be intimidating but IC and IB didn't get to meet him (yet), I like that you had to qualify you didn't work at the fair, that made me laugh

ok that's it I think

Deals On Wheels said...

Well, if anyone stops by and says HI to me at the fair, I promise that I won't scream and runaway (at least not in an oh-so dramatic way with lots of arm flailing...because, you know, that would draw attention to myself and we cannot have that).

And if anyone decides to stop by, please do not laugh. Both RR and I will be wearing bowling shirts for the next three weeks. Bowling shirts that apparently have to be ironed quazi-regularly (because THAT isn't going to happen). Oh, and mustard will TOTALLY stand-out on them (I'm mentioning this for RR's sake. She's a spiller).

Lia said...

The fair sounds like fun, but I know I won't be there. Partly because, as I just found out, I'm an introvert (I always thought it was possible, but I love people, and I thought you can't be an introverted people-person, so I was confused - thanks for straightening all this out :-) and partly because it's happening about 3000 miles from where I am.

Otherwise, I'd love to come visit.

JLR said...

lia: I'm glad I cleared that up for you. :) I think many people have misconceptions about what it means to be an introvert or extrovert. I do wish you could make it to the fair. It is a sight to behold--a great place for people watching! :)

AM: thanks for clarifying that we aren't at all the "blogger parties." Now maybe deals will believe us.

Deals: rr doesn't like mustard. How will ketchup stains look?

Katie: when I first read your comment, I thought you were saying that rr and I are like dairy. I was trying really hard to figure out in what way we resemble dairy, and then I realized you said that we like dairy, as in it's a favorite food group.

steve said...

Wow I really think you might hate being around me! I would NEVER make fun of you blushing at all but the word "attention" and "steve" are pretty much the same thing.

I am extroverted like no other but i still NEED alone time an dpersonal reflection... I think that is why I am a songwriter and psuedo-poet.. it calms me

Deals On Wheels said...

Whatever, dudes...y'all totally go to "BLOG Parties" (and, yes, I did just use the word "dudes").

Amstaff Mom said...

WhatEVER Deals, we can't get them to come to our Blog Parties. Even after sending them 330 emails. Or something like that.

We're officially IN.A.FIGHT.

-Finfrock's wife-

zjexcitt - excite

Deals On Wheels said...