Being an introvert means that you accept certain truths. You understand that you'll probably earn less. You guess that you're more likely to be overlooked for promotions or be judged negatively by those who don't take the time to get to know you. That's just the way our Western world works.
Still, it hasn't stopped a mini-backlash in some quarters -- some people are sick of hearing about how downtrodden all us poor introverts are. The success of authors like Susan Cain has thrust the discussion into the mainstream spotlight, and has helped employers and educators look again at how they can best cater for their more deferential employees and students. While this is welcome, there will always be those who think we should stop complaining and just get on with things; that mountains are being made of mole hills, that there isn't really a problem at all.
Of course, these are the very same people who say the types of phrases I've listed below. Phrases that introverts like me hear on an almost daily basis, ones that would send me into a screaming fit if I didn't think it'd make a scene. While I'd never be arrogant enough to speak for an entire group of people, here's a short list of statements that I guarantee will result in at least some introverts gving you their best blank face.
Are You Okay?
I'd like to take this opportunity to reassure everybody that I am, in fact, OK. At the very minute I become not OK, I will deign to let that fact be known. I know I look like a bulldog swallowing a hornet, but don't fret -- underneath the grumpy exterior I'm happily distracted by my own thoughts.
I don't want to seem unkind -- it's nice when people ask how you are. I appreciate that they care enough to wonder how I'm feeling. But when you're asked every five minutes, it begins to grate.
How about you cheer down? You can't be that chipper all the time. The only people who can be that happy are clowns, and I think we can all agree that they are creepy as hell.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
This one is usually uttered in a work setting, on some vague team building exercise or --worse -- an interview. It immediately fills me with dread -- where do I start? From birth? What I had for lunch? How much is a little? I need time to prepare an anecdote!
We're having a [insert event]. Would you like to come?
Again, don't get me wrong -- just because I'm an introvert doesn't mean that I don't like being invited to things. Nobody likes not being on the guest list, right?
It just so happens that this is juxtaposed with my instinctual aversion to going places and doing things. I really do enjoy people's company -- as long as I don't have to enjoy it for more than an hour before returning to the sweet castle I call home.
I am relaxed! Well, at least I was relaxed, before you said I wasn't and made me think I'm giving off vibes of being uptight. Now I'm irritable.
You're not much of a people person, are you?
This one irks me quite a bit. Being skilled at small talk does not a people person make. Actually listening to people, engaging them in thoughtful conversation -- that is manna from heaven for an introvert like myself.
So, while I can empathize with our more extroverted companions who feel like they're being drowned out in all the pro-introvert psycho babble, please bear with us. We've been waiting our turn to speak, and we have a few things we'd like to say.