Are you really an introvert?

Ha! I quite love this. Just when we thought it was cool to be an introvert, we get a whopping great mirror held up to us that says, “get over yourself”.

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I’d been cringing about this for a while with my mate Rick, observing that everyone around us was suddenly coyly declaring themselves an introvert to all and their sundries on social media (the preferred expressive outlet for introverts, apparently). 

Then, wonderfully, the New York Times stepped in with the proverbial reflective glass for us both.

In an article by KJ Dell’Antonia, we’re pointed to the introversion explosion, led by Susan Cain’s “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” Suddenly. “A resistance to social intercourse became, not just acceptable, but cool, “ she wrote. Everyone started posting pictures of themselves in their pyjamas on a Friday night and sharing personality test results they’d done on Facebook.

I can be accused of doing the same. My schtick has been more to the tune of loneliness. And aloneness. However, I’ve definitely been known to chime in (at parties where I’m standing “awkwardly” by the door) that I’m a functioning introvert, while allowing for the possibility I might just be a dysfunctional extrovert.  

A few months ago I started to question myself. I started asking if the label was a scapegoat for stuff I didn’t want to deal with, like late nights, my impatience, my commitment issues and my intolerance of city noise (ergo, I keep moving out of the city). To a certain extent, this awareness has seen me bite the bullet in the past two weeks and move back into the city.

KJ did the same and posed a really good point: hiding behind the introvert tag sees us abscond from important responsibilities.

“When I skip big gatherings of strangers, I’m not just being a little rude to the individual people around me, I’m being uncivil in a larger sense. The more we isolate ourselves from new people, the more isolated and segregated our society is likely to become.”

This is a bloody good point. 

Then there’s this point. She tells a time management coach who questions her habitual lateness that she “can’t help it”, due to her introversion.

The coach then asked KJ if she’d ever missed a plane?  KJ had not. Then you can help it, said the coach. You just care more about yourself than about the needs of others.

Gold, no?

Are we really introverted, or are we scapegoating? And perhaps the bigger question is, are there better ways to care for our needs if we are feeling that life is a bit too much?

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