Hi. My name is John. I'm an introvert. You probably don't understand people like me, but I think I know you pretty well. People light up when you enter the room. You wish there were more days when you could go out and just dance the night away. You're like the majority of the population, but not like me. You're an extrovert.
Have you ever heard someone talk about their teenage daughter - the little chatterbox who will not shut up? They're labeled cute but annoying. Anyone ever tell you about the daughter who simply won't talk at all? Parents are usually concerned about them. But these are two ends of a very real spectrum of personalities. You need to understand that neither needs medication . . . well, maybe all teenagers need medication . . . but not for this part of their personality. Neither is trying to be unreasonable. The quiet one is just as healthy as the yacky one; you just need to understand that when she's quiet, she's thinking, or in a thinking-like state.
I want to explain introverts to you, because we really are misunderstood and extroverts often don't quite know what to do with us.
When I walk into a room, actually, when I'm dragged into a room, it's a bit painful because I know what's going to happen next. If you try to say something nice to me like "How are you doing?", I'll probably return with something that will kill the conversation like "Still alive", or maybe just growl. Small talk - we just can't do it. Sometimes we drown in discussions that are 100% content free. You talk; you smile. We wonder if, like the Road Runner, we can call the Acme Safe Company and have one dropped on you, just to make you stop. We prefer to spend blocks of time alone and quiet. We suffer through small talk, but can do just fine in front of a large group. We do enjoy substantial conversations - we're not antisocial. We're also not serious or shy, or rude or arrogant. That's may be how we appear, but those labels are wrong.
I like being around people, but if I have to be social for an hour, I'm going to need a day of quiet to recover. It's not because I'm depressed; being alone with my own thoughts is just what I do.
The most important difference to understand is that introverts think - we think before they speak; extroverts speak to think, it’s how they organize their thoughts. That's why your meetings always last six hours. You figure out who you are by interacting with other people - like puppy dogs. Extroverts assume that people always like to have them around (like puppy dogs) - they can't imagine that anyone would want alone time. I tried explaining this to an extrovert once, but they only listened for a few seconds then went back to jumping and yelping.
There have been some famous introverts in history. Jean Paul Sartre is quoted as saying "Hell is other people at breakfast." Get the idea? The great Calvin Coolidge, introvert god, said, "Four fifths of all our troubles in this life would disappear if we would just sit down and keep still" - his polite way of saying "just stop talking!"
You need to understand the differences between us, because I'm not alone. I've read that introverts make up about 25% of the population. According to an Internet site, we're "a minority of the regular population but a majority of the gifted population".
We do have you to thank for cell phones - because you couldn't talk about nothing constantly with a phone only at your house, and hold down a job. It's so much better now that you can talk to your friend about having your period while you're in the grocery store and I'm trying to pick out spaghetti sauce. Thanks. Sometimes you invade our lives. Of course that's nothing compared to your singing. It was great to spend $250 to watch Springsteen lip sync to your singing. Did you all get together before the show and decide to surround me, then sing your hearts out even though you didn't know the words? When the crowd drowns out the performer, why are we there? Wouldn't just having an iPod on stage be cheaper?
My mailman always shares neighbor mail with me, and some of it I return. Catalogs I keep. I got one the other day that sold a wooden sign to hang in your home - it must be the extroverts' credo - probably on the back of all of your drivers' licenses. It was a celebrate life sort of decoration. To me, it was instructions for creating hell at home. DANCE, SING, LOVE, LIVE. It said, "DANCE like no one is watching." People, I don't want you to do it and I don't want to do it. "SING like no one is listening." Ditto. "LOVE like you have never been hurt before." I guess "LOVE like you're stupid" just didn't look right. "LIVE like every day is your last." If I did that I'd be arrested before the sun came up. Too bad they ran out of wood before they could write, "SMOKE like this is the best dope you ever had!" Are the people who write these things serious?
In my life I only know of one occasion where an introvert won an argument. Hotel doorknob hangers now say, "Do not disturb." The first ones, written by an extrovert, said, "I'm Sleeping, but Hey, Come on In, Lets Party!"
If you're living with an introvert, I ask you to do a few things for me. First, understand - it's not a choice but an orientation (yes, it's a phrase used by introverts too). Second, when we're quiet, don't ask, "What's the matter?" And third, don't say anything else either. I hope this helps.
© 2012 John Allison
Shamelessly stolen from the Internet: