It’s funny. It seems like 2014 was the year of the introvert. I saw tons of articles and cartoons and Facebook memes and blah-blah-blah explaining introverts. And it got annoying. Like it was a badge of honor on Facebook to post one and say “see, see?”
A lot of the articles seemed really superficial to me. Kind of like having a really generic fortune and just forcing yourself to interpret your situation just right to say “wow, that fortune came true!” Or a horoscope. “Man, that thing was right on the money!’
This one though, seemed to have a little more depth and to ring a little truer to me. There are a couple “Duh!” moments in it, but the ones that I can relate to?
1) Small talk stresses them out, while deeper conversations make them feel alive.
Not only does small talk stress me out, sometimes it annoys me. The idea of making idle chit-chat at networking events is torture to me, although I’ve practiced it and I’ve gotten a lot better at it. But sometimes, making small talk with people I know is annoying. It’s a distraction to me. One thing that’s just dawning on me here. At some jobs I have to be “on” a lot. As a manager, I have to talk to a million people in the course of my day. If the introvert/extrovert/energy thing is true, when I come home I just want to sit on the couch for a couple hours and be alone in my head with the TV on and just recharge. I had a relationship where my favorite thing to do was just sit on the couch with her and watch t.v. But she’d get frustrated that I wasn’t talking to her. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to talk, it’s that right then, I couldn’t do the small talk thing. I was just completely burned out. I’m going to have to remember that moving forward.
I don’t like to speak for a group, just myself, but I think this is probably a fairly universal truth for introverts. I might not’ve been the best at talking, I might have hated small talk. But the fact that I wanted her there on the couch beside me? Instead of being alone? Says a lot.
2) They succeed on stage — just not in the chit-chat afterwards.
This one is interesting to me. When I’m in practice as a public speaker (it requires practice for me), and when I’m on, I’m freaking awesome talking in front of a crowd. I can have people laughing and chuckling, engaged, asking topic related questions and it’s a euphoric high. But when it’s over? I want to run and hide from the one-on-one follow up questions.
3) They are naturally drawn to more creative, detail-oriented and solitary careers.
Radio operator? IT Guy? These aren’t really social jobs.
4) When surrounded by people, they locate themselves close to an exit.
Sweet Baby Jesus this is me. Church? Sitting next to strangers? Has made me get up and walk out. I hate it when ushers tell you you have to move in to make room for people. Screw that. I got there early and picked my aisle seat. They can move around me. The Army used to make you “move up and fill in the empty spaces”. Special kind of hell for me. Movies, sporting events and flights? Yeah, I specifically buy the aisle seats.
5) They think before they speak.
I think this ties in to the small-talk thing. I can’t just tell you how I feel at a moment’s noti7ce. It’s not that I’m stupid about my feelings (well, sometimes I am), it’s that I have to figure out what I’m feeling, and then I have to figure out what to say and how to say it.
6) They physically can’t stand talking on the phone.
AAAAAND so is this one. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to talk to her, it’s that talking on the phone is a special kind of hell. Sure she heard me talk on the phone to people. But not people I saw everyday. It was my Dad, my sister, a far away friend or two. And generally it wasn’t chit-chat, it was bigger stuff we were talking about.
7) They literally shut down when it’s time to be alone.
This was the realization from earlier this year. The crankiness I get after too much time with a smile on my face making small talk with people I don’t know well. The torture of wanting to leave and waiting for someone who is comfortable there and doesn’t realize how miserable I am.