Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Introverts Are Not Fragile

As the whole "introverts are better than extroverts" trend (which I do not support) starts to die down, there comes another trend that I do not support, and that is the idea that introverts are fragile, sensitive creatures who are about to break any moment.

Guys, some of the introverts I know have spent every moment of their waking lives acting like they were somebody else just because that's what they thought they were supposed to do. That doesn't sound all that fragile to me.

Sad from Flickr via Wylio
© 2013 Loren Kerns, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio
Introverts don't have to suck at being social.

Introverts don't have to curl up in a little ball every time someone talks to them.

Introverts don't always have panic attacks when they're invited to a party and sweat bullets until they cancel at the last minute.

If they do, that's not the introversion doing that. That's social anxiety or depression or something else that may be mimicking some of the outward signs of introversion... but if you're spending your life miserable at the sight of others, that's not introversion, that's something else.

Introversion may be uncomfortable and awkward in a culture centered around extroverts, but it shouldn't be painful or traumatizing.

I worry sometimes that extroverts see these posts and start to see us as fragile, overly sensitive little flowers who might wither and die if we look at us wrong. And oh my gosh, that's not true. Or it shouldn't be.

Friendship from Flickr via Wylio
© 2008 Corey Balazowich, Flickr | CC-BY-ND | via Wylio
When I post about how to treat introverted friends, it's not because I'm begging you to handle my introversion carefully. I'm not going to fall apart if you don't act that way around me. My roommates didn't scar me for life when they invited friends over without telling me, even if it happened a lot. I'd sometimes get annoyed or leave the room if I want to focus on something, but ultimately I'd deal with it because I'm an adult and that's what you do.

When I post about the differences between extroverts and introverts, I'm not saying, "Please be careful with us." I'm saying, "We live in a culture where a lot of us feel unheard, unseen, and unappreciated. If you want to go that extra mile and make us feel valued, here are some tips."

Worst of all, I don't want extroverts to read these and think, "Apparently I exhaust them too much. Better leave them alone." No! I love my extroverted friends -- they support me, they encourage me, they make me feel like they value my time because they're excited to see me. Introverts and extroverts can and should coexist. Are extroverts exhausting? Sure, they are. But we can handle it, especially if we come to value you as a friend. And will I need some time alone sometimes? Sure, I will. And you can handle that, especially if you value me as a friend.

Let's not let the voice of the introvert become either a triumphant cry of superiority or a quiet whimper of fear. Let's simply be who we are, be strong and joyful in who we are, and use that inner strength to love the people around us -- whatever that looks like for us.

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