I spotted this article on my Pocket feed this morning after I got back from a nice 3 hour ride to the beach. I laughed out loud when I saw the title, Faking it: Could I go From being an Introvert to an Extrovert in One Week?”
Being an introvert myself, and someone who has dealt with this topic all my life, I couldn’t help but respond.
But, first, check out all my articles and posts at my website blog feed here.
Let’s get started….
What is Introversion and Extroversion?
To start off with, despite popular opinion (typically from extroverts), introversion is not a mental disorder. In fact, those who have made the greatest of impacts on society have been introverts to one degree or another.
To do anything much of importance, you typically will find yourself alone for much of the time, when everyone else is out and about in the world partying like its 1999, the introvert is huddled down in his basement or self-sequestered in his study, working on the next breakthrough that will revolutionize the world.
I love how this article frames the discussion right out of the gate. “New research has found that being extrovert makes you happier.”
Come on. Are you people really so stunted in the brain that you haven’t figure this out yet? I’ve been alive now for some 40 odd years, and I figured the truth about this after half of that. Yet, inevitably, the introvert is somehow bad, off, not quite right, or, as the article argues, just so damn unhappy.
Why are introverts so unhappy exactly? Because we don’t actually enjoy the company of others? Has it ever crossed your mind that maybe there is a legitimate reason why we don’t want to hang around you people in the first place? Take the hint! And, no, it’s not because we’re unfriendly. I would suggest, if you’ve met an unfriendly introvert in the past, they’re unfriendly because people won’t stop bothering them! Radical idea…right?
But, the reality is (and the scientific reality at that), extroversion and introversion are a sliding scale that determines how one “recharges” their internal, emotional energies. Extroverts are a life of the proverbial party for a reason. Being around people all the time, being the center of attention, interacting, dialoging, all of it is one big electrical stimulus to them. Of course they seek after it like its some kind of human catnip.
The introvert is not wired this way. Rather, we renew through isolation, through contemplation, through introspection. That’s right. Leave us the hell alone already! Being the center of attention, having conversations, these are the kryptonite we dread. It does not mean there is something wrong with us! It does not mean we need to somehow re-configure ourselves to the extrovert wiring.
Extroverts are happier. Well, if that’s the case, sign me up to be miserable the rest of my life. I’m simply not interested in what you have to offer.
Can You Really Just Switch?
I think its an awful waste of time what this author did so they could write a post. But, because the world and our culture is predominately designed for the extrovert, I would venture to bet nearly every introvert has tried this experiment at some point in their life.
Let me tell you right now, it’s a complete waste of time. A dog cannot be a cat and the cat could care less about being a dog. It’s as simple as that.
We are genetically, emotionally, psychologically designed in specific ways and you can’t, no matter how much you “fake it until you make it,” you can’t fight city hall. It’s a losing battle. Your genes will win and all you’ll be left is miserable.
I was told all my life, stop being so shy all the time. When I was in grade school, my parents got hauled into the principal’s office to find out who was abusing me because all I wanted to do at recess was sit in my classroom by myself and write and draw.
God forbid I was wired different than the other kids. No, something was up. Something was wrong.
I’m going to tell you right now what was wrong in this situation. It was the public school system. Stop forcing round pegs into square holes, you idiots!
When I reached my 20’s, I tried this same experiment the author did. I took on an avocation that put me out in front of people, that put me in the center of attention. It forced me to socialize, to interact, to be around people all the time.
In my 30’s, despite my genes and my unconscious mind SCREAMING at the top of their lungs, I married and settled into a life with a family. Everyone said, married life is the better life. The easier life. The life for everyone, right?
Marriage is a bitter battle of compromise and regret. If you’re lucky – if you win the lottery – you might find someone who you can half way get along with. If you catch a unicorn marriage, you might find a partner you actually like being around. For most, though, it’s simply a prescription for misery for everyone involved.
When I got to my late 30’s, post a divorce, post the circus I had put myself in, I came to the final realization this wasn’t working. I was pretending. I was faking it in hopes I could fit in.
That’s when I was able to turn the corner on my life, on my goals and dreams. I started living the life I actually wanted to live. I stopped apologizing to extroverts because they couldn’t handle my preferred choice of solitude. I remember one co-worker a few years ago asking me to dinner with her and her spouse. Just a friendly invitation (apparently people do that kind of thing). I politely declined, stating I really actually don’t socialize with people outside of work.
I could see it in her eyes. And, then of course, the canned response introverts inevitably get. “You know there is medication for that.”
Oh. Okay. I just shake my head, slowly turn, and walk the hell away. Because, extroverts will simply never understand.
Bad Science Because Extroverts Can’t Handle the Truth
The truth is, introverts – not that I’m speaking for the lot of us, just for myself – we are not interested in what you have to offer. We don’t want to socialize with you. We don’t want to mix it up at the bar after work, and we definitely don’t want to waste our weekend at your house watching the game.
It’s not that I CAN’T talk to you. It’s not that I’m unable to carry on a conversation with someone. In fact, most people at my work have no idea that I’m an introvert or that I would literally cross to the other side of the street if I saw them heading toward me on the same sidewalk.
Hey, it’s not about you. It’s really not personal, I swear. Honestly, introverts are just not thinking about you. Most of the time, I’m pretty much lost in my own head. I have lifetimes of things I’m thinking about. At any given point in time at work, I’m light years away, thinking and pondering about life on other planets or what could be a the bottom of the ocean, or who’s observation is triggering the particles and waves in front of me to collapse and form this wall. Can I walk through it? Maybe if I just don’t look at it directly. Ouch. Nope. That didn’t work.
Get the point?
Introverts are Not the Problem, Society Is
The reality is, this world makes no allowance for introverts. Native cultures had their shamans and the Catholic Church had their anchorites and hermits and monasteries. But, for the most part, and especially in the modern world, introverts just don’t fit in.
Of course, thankfully, this is changing. With the advent of social media (or, should I say curse of) and the ubiquity of smart phones and tablets and – well screens of all shapes and sizes – taking over all of our attention, the introvert has found a bran new world opening up before them.
No more uncomfortable chats on the train. No more annoying passenger on that connecting flight from Cleveland (what in God’s name were you doing in Cleveland?). Introverts now have a perfectly legitimate reason to avoid you at all cost.
We just keep looking down at our screens.
Finally, we have arrived in Mecca. Salvation for the solitarily inclined.
It Really Doesn’t Matter
In the end, though, none of this really matters. Extroverts will keep the party going until judgment comes, and introverts…well….I’ll be over here in the library reading this dusty book.
No, thank you. I politely decline your invitation to join you on your….whatever the hell it is you’re doing right about now.
I’m good. Thanks.
Honestly, I’m really just not that into you.
Until the next stupid article comes out and I, inevitably, take the bait….
Excerpt from Seeking Light Aurora:
Thomas opened the front door of the diner and leaned inside, holding himself up by the door frame.
“What’s the matter?” Terrance said, looking away from Peg and Carol. They were all huddled together at the counter.
“Her truck is still freaking out. I’ll try to keep her busy for as long as I can, but I’m running out of ideas.”
He looked over at Derrick who was quietly sitting at the back booth reading one of his books.
“You’ve got to keep her busy,” Terrance said. “We don’t have any other choice.”
“Look –” Thomas hesitated. “This isn’t all on me you know. I’ve already told you. I don’t know jack shit about trucks or engines. I’m sure as hell not a mechanic.”
“It’ll be fine,” Peg said.
“We all know there’s nothing I can do to fix that truck.” Thomas was shaking his head. “She’s going to figure out that something’s up. What if she starts asking questions?”
“Stall her,” Terrance said. “We just have to keep her busy for a little while. Remember, whatever it takes.”
“But, what about –” Carol had tears welling up.
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Terrance said. “We’ve all been through this before.” He looked at Thomas. “Just take a deep breath and relax.”
“Relax my ass,” Thomas said. “Save that bullshit for her, okay?”
“Just keep her occupied in the garage as long as you possibly can. She’s focused right now on getting her truck fixed, so use that.”
“Whatever you say.” Thomas pushed off the door frame and let the door close behind him.
“It’s not going to work,” Carol said. “She’ll figure out something is wrong and that will be it.”
Terrance put his hand on Carol’s arm, gently trying to reassure her.
“It’ll work, Carol,” he said. “Have faith. It’ll work. Whatever it takes.”
Buy my book Seeking Light Aurora to find out what in the world is going on at this strange, out of the way diner in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness!
Click here and grab your copy today! Buy the three book omnibus and get the ENTIRE story for less!
But, you better strap in, because this is definitely not child’s play. People are getting hurt right and left – it just might be you next!