Every now and then I come across an article that catches my eye. In this case, the article mentioned in the title of this post reached out and grabbed me by my shirt collar. I saved it to come back to during this time that I’m off work, and I wanted to react to a bit of it (knowing that a few introverts come across this site).
That article was written as a closing of sorts for a regular content block on Psychology Today, and I want to express my condolences to the author of it for the loss of her husband before I proceed. Loss of any kind is tough, but I can only imagine how she’s feeling as she shares and processes details of that particular pain with the world.
I plan to present her points briefly before responding, but I encourage you to read the original article to see her thoughts in full as they won’t be presented here.
The Do’s of Introversion
Learn to manage your calendar to avoid being either isolated or overextended.
Say “no thanks” when you don’t want company and “yes please” when you do, and learn to recognize the difference.
Learn to let pressure and implied criticism of your introversion roll off you.
However, do help the people who matter to you most to understand you.
Rather than giving up the telephone altogether, encourage your friends to text before they call…
But also learn to pick up the phone sometimes.
I believe that friends go to friends’ parties, but I always keep in mind that it’s a lot easier to say “yes” to parties if I give myself permission to leave when I’m ready.
Remember—and this has been my soapbox for a long time—that there is nothing inherently superior about introversion or extroversion.
All of the bullets above are (pretty much) first sentences lifted directly from the aforementioned and referenced article written by Sophia Dembling (author of “The Introvert’s Way…” and “Introverts in Love“) for Psychology Today, and I take no credit for them.
Rather than address each thing point-by-point, I want to react to the entirety of her points.
Now, since this article is written as a closer on the author’s part – the insights she mentions aren’t necessarily intended to be anything “new” related to introversion, but her personal takeaways from years of writing on the subject.
As an introvert, I know something about this subject that non-introverts would not know – but that’s pretty “duh” when you think about it: There are degrees of introversion, and we’re not all anti-social shut-ins.
I don’t think that’s how her points entirely present us as a group, but I do see how someone who’s curious about introversion could read her pointers and think to themselves that introverts just entirely DO NOT like people. That isn’t necessarily true (although it’s not entirely “untrue” either – LOL).
All that introversion refers to, in the simplest of terms, is how you – as an individual – recharge. If you find yourself refueling in social situations, and going out speaking to new people, and taking in tons of new experiences while making a new friend every week — chances are you’re extroverted. But, if you prefer going home and reading a good book or watching your favorite TV show without having to concern yourself with others for a while. If solitude really doesn’t bother you, and you in fact find it welcoming on most occasions — chances are you’re an introvert.
But you can be a weird sort of hybrid of the two like me. I can operate socially just fine as an extrovert (to the point that many people who don’t know me swear that I’m an extrovert), but I really do treasure my alone time. If I like spending time with you one-on-one, you are without a doubt one of my favorite people. And that group is small. But — I can suck it up and go out and be fine operating among other people all day so long as I’m mentally prepared for it. I need a sort of heads up.
I think her commentary misses out on that distinction. The fact that there are introverts who pass as extroverts all of the time just doesn’t seem to be found in that portion of this article, so I wanted to make sure to call it out. Please don’t worry – your extroverted ways won’t break most of us introverts, but it might leave a few of us a little miffed if you keep putting us in extroverted environments with no warning.
That said, a “Do” that I would probably add to the list is “Do tell your non-introverted friends your degree of introversion.” We won’t all have the same definitions (although I’m sure some standard exists) – but it’s pretty simple to tell someone that you loathe the ideas of large groups and strangers vs. your having the ability to pass as extroverted when you need to. It will just help make life a lot easier for you and those around you.
The Dont’s of Introversion
Don’t overindulge your introversion to the point where solitude turns into isolation.
Don’t be the last-minute “poozer” … the person who frequently makes plans and then backs out at the last minute.
Don’t completely discount the value of loose ties.
Don’t make friends do all the reaching out, and don’t assume they will be there even if you don’t put a lot of effort into the friendship.
Don’t always rely on others to make plans or to choose you as their friend.
All of the bullets above are (pretty much) first sentences lifted directly from the aforementioned and referenced article written by Sophia Dembling for Psychology Today, and I take no credit for them.
While this section is shorter than her list of Do’s, I actually think it drives home a very important theme more introverts, including myself, should heed. Hell, I have friends that I want to send this article to JUST because of the first 2 points.
It is very easy for an introvert to lean into the habit of “I’m an introvert and this is just how I am. I don’t people.” to the point of being a real-life hermit.
I know I’ve been guilty of this at times.
And sometimes it’s been extremely needed on my side.
What I don’t like about this section, again, is it kind of presents Introverts as socially handicapped. We’re not — in fact, many of us are the types of people who SEE, HEAR, and REMEMBER every little subtle detail of our interactions. Things that others would just wipe off to the side as something not worth worrying about — we likely have obsessed over at one point or another. We notice when people do things, when they stop doing them as much, and when they stop doing them entirely. We notice when new things pick up. We notice when you like us, hate us, or are hurt by us.
Where we tend to screw up (“we” being introverts) is that some of us either 1) Don’t care enough about others’ feelings, 2) Are too chicken shit to speak up, or 3) Just want to maintain peace – so we let A LOT go when we probably shouldn’t.
It is not that we don’t understand the social things happening around us – it’s more so that we’ve processed the pros and cons of acting on said things in a certain way, and at the end of the day – we just don’t want to deal with the outcome(s) for whatever reason.
That little nuance is lost in her brief Don’ts list, and it’s likely done in the spirit of brevity for the sake of the article’s word count – or just because she’s over the topic and has lost passion around the subject (which she kind of alludes to).
If I had to add a Don’t to this list it would be “Don’t be afraid to detail the nuances of introversion for those you care about.” She touches on this subtly in one of her Do’s above, but I think it’s an important enough thing to hammer home in both lists.
As I said, it’s a worthwhile article to read to sort of grasp a quick primer on some key points of things that may trigger or be a weakness to the introverts in your life (if you aren’t the introvert in question yourself), but I just felt like it presented us as a one-trick group. And frankly, that bothered me because it felt like introverts were being presented as somewhat broken and incomplete humans.
We (introverts) know how to talk to people. We know how to feel. We feel very deeply in fact (as you’ll get if you read between the lines of the author’s admissions about her deceased husband in the article) – we just may not choose to share that with others.