Monday, July 5, 2010

Leave Me the Fuck Alone: An Explanation of Introversion

Largely Inspired by This Article

Odds are if you know me and know me well, you'll realize that I am a very solitary person.  If you know me even better, you'll realize that in spite of this, I am not a particularly shy person.  That might boggle the mind of a few since those two traits are usually assumed to go hand in hand.  Loners are seen as anti-social losers that just need to "get over" their shyness.

My previous employer never understood this.  I worked at a desk in a cubicle in a building in a restricted (to the public) area.  Interaction, while still a necessary part of every day life, was not an essential job skill.  I was one of the nicest people there, always friendly and never in a bad mood.  Still during performance reviews, I was constantly told to be more engaging, to show more excitement.  That frustrated me to no end.  You can't ask someone to fundamentally alter their personality, and you can't ask them to express emotion in a way that more suits your perception of 'acceptable.'  To be perfectly blunt, that's just stupid.

Not My Life Anymore!

That's the kind of treatment that introverts face though, the stigma of being society's losers just because we prefer the company of ourselves or of a few close friends.  It's not all that surprising, after all, extroverts (as the article says) comprise 75% of the population.  We are in the minority, and it doesn't help that most human beings are almost completely unable to put themselves in the shoes of another person and understand their views and motivations as they apply to them.

If Only it Were That Easy...and Hot

It's especially annoying if you're a person (like myself) whose hobbies tend to produce a quiet, solitary atmosphere.  I catch shit for spending too much time alone and on the computer.  These complaints are mystifying to me.  I'm a fucking writer, what the hell am I supposed to do?  Take my laptop to Starbucks?  How is that any more acceptable?  Putting people around me doesn't change the fundamental aspects of my personality.  I'm still going to write and that is a solitary activity.

Actually now, I'm probably more social than I've ever been.  For the first time in my life, I'm comfortable hanging around with a group of people (thanks Sabres Junkie!).  I never pass up an opportunity to watch a Sabres game with friends over watching it alone, even if it involves driving two hours to Buffalo.  I went to Party in the Plaza twice last season.  Those that have known me a while know how strange it is to associate my name with the word 'party.'  Just don't favor that type of social interaction, but in this case it's a format that appeals to me.

The point is that being introverted and being sociable are not mutually exclusive.  Now you know...