idiosyncrasies of introversion

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As far as I’m concerned at this moment, there are only two types of people in this world.  There are those who can talk to others for hours on end, making conversation until the cows come home, and those who’d rather spend the day with the cows.

I am, of course, referring to extroverts as opposed to introverts.  After three days at a conference within my field, alongside passionate colleagues, at a beautiful venue mere walking distance from Disneyland, I feel I may never want to see another human being again.

Ever, ever ever ever.

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To all you fellow introverts reading this, you know exactly what I’m talking about and why. To the extroverts in the room, well, I really don’t know what to say.

Except, perhaps that I sort of envy you. And do you know why? Because as difficult as it may be for you to understand this, being in a sea of people for hours at a time is, for introverts such as myself, very much akin to treading water and trying to sing the national anthem for an equal amount of time.

And then walk away smiling.

We learn ways of dealing with this, of course, often by way of escape and disguise. But if you look real hard, you can almost always find one.

They might be spotted sitting alone in the corner of a Starbucks somewhere, back to the wall, ear-buds in place, trying very hard not to make eye contact with anyone, lest they be made to speak. They are pretending to read a book, but really they’re just enjoying being alone.

Or you might discover another at home watching a movie by themselves on a friday night, happy as a clam, not a care in the world.  And while others may never understand their lack of participation in mass mobs, the fact that they are missing a massive party doesn’t bother them in the least. In fact, they feel a certain level of delight in the fact that they have managed to avoid it.

They are the silent one in the backseat of the car, hood over their head during a road trip.  You may notice that they’ve been staring out into nothingness for the past hour and you begin t0 wonder if something is wrong.

As a purebred introvert let me assure you: Nothing is wrong. NOTHING.  Nothing except the fact that they feel, perhaps, you might not leave them alone.

They are not rude or sad or depressed or antisocial. They’re introverts; content in their realm of introversion after spending their crowd quota for the day. As long as you leave them alone for a while, they will more than likely come back to you and interact, but you must let them be.

The strange thing is, most introverts love people.  Not all at once or for long periods of time, but they have an intense and often intuitive connection with people one-on-one.  I don’t know why they (myself included) are this way, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to the extroverts who surround them (or even to the introvert themselves if we’re really honest).  I sometimes get the feeling it is because they exert more energy and focus into each person they are speaking with, leaving little to none for the crowd.  A deep conversation with one person is usually more than welcomed, while being forced to make small talk in groups of strangers is both despised and avoided. It feels rather pointless for the amount of exhaustion it produces.

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But while they sit quietly by themselves in corners unseen, they might be the ones to notice the unnoticed, hear the unheard, or make connections that might have otherwise been overlooked.

They are confusing, misunderstood and terribly vexatious at times. I have yet to find the cure to this madness and so do my best to deal with it as best I can.  I’m afraid I’m not very good at it, which is why some of my favorite places are the ocean, my surfboard,  mountains, my car, dogs and a good book with a large cup of tea.

Cheers to all you fellow introverts out there.  And you extroverts who put up with us.

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