Musings on Introversion

I’ve returned from holiday and am slowly getting back to normal. I had a great time, very relaxing, and in due course I might share some pictures.

Today, I’m musing about introversion. It’s something I’m very interested in, as I identify as an introvert. It’s only more recently that I’ve begun to celebrate the fact that I’m an introvert, rather than look on it as something I need to train myself out of. It certainly feels like modern Western society is designed for the extrovert. We’re told to push ourselves forwards, to be sociable, and to make ourselves heard from a very early age. And yet for me, this goes against my nature. I hate being in a room full of people and having to introduce myself to someone I don’t know. This extrovert way of thinking penetrates all parts of our lives – family, work, friends, even things like church, which is an important part of my life, but can often feel very draining.

And that for me is the key definition of an introvert. Not a shy person, or an antisocial person, but someone who is drained by social interaction. An extrovert is someone who uses social interaction to recharge – a completely foreign concept to me.

It also took me a while to separate introversion from shyness or anxiety. When I was younger, I did find social interaction nerve wracking and experienced shyness, mild terror, sweating palms etc, when in social situations (generally more formal ones). These days, I’m not scared of interaction in the same way, I just choose to avoid it because it’s not something I enjoy. I get terribly frustrated by small talk. It seems that it takes such a long time to progress a relationship to the stage where you can talk about more meaningful things, and yet without that small talk introduction, you would never reach that stage. I mean, one can always talk about the weather here in England, but I get tired of repeating the same old phrases. “Ooh, bit nippy this morning, wasn’t it?”

I enjoy the way that interaction on the internet often manages to miss out that rather tedious stage of talk. It’s fair game on social media or forums to jump in and have an in-depth conversation with someone you don’t know or barely know. Internet conversations often relate to specific topics, and yes, I’m thinking of writing here, but it’s a far pleasanter way to further relationships with people, in my opinion, than swapping banalities about the weather.

From a conversation I had with someone else recently, they mentioned that they can interact better with strangers or acquaintances in a social setting than they can with life-long family or friends. They said it’s easier to put on a persona to enable social interaction with people they don’t know as well. Putting on a persona doesn’t necessarily mean not being yourself, but it can be a way to project yourself whilst putting a mental layer between yourself and who you’re talking to. I suppose it’s something I tend to do at work. I have a ‘phone voice’ which I use regularly. I hate talking on the phone, but I have to do it at work, so I just pretend I’m a nice, chirpy person to get the job done. Then I can go back to being grumpy!

I think in this extrovert-geared world, it is necessary to come up with coping mechanisms if you are not that way inclined. Limit your social calendar. If people press you to attend things, have some decent excuses ready. Don’t feel bad at saying no to social interaction. Carry a book with you all the time, so you can ‘escape’ inside it if there are no other options.

Finally, if you’re interested, I read a great book on this subject: Quiet by Susan Cain, The power of introverts in a world that won’t stop talking. Very interesting read.

 

9 Comments

  1. Dustin Fife

    October 2, 2015

    Preach it! I’m one of those weird introverts that is loud and not shy at all. People ASSUME I’m an extrovert. Nope. I’d rather stay inside on the weekend and watch a movie. And the thought of being my own publicist for my writing career terrifies me.

    It’s interesting–people who write (I assume) tend to be introverts. Yet they also have to “put themselves out there.” Luckily, as you say, the internet provides a medium where we can project ourselves in a much more comfortable way.

    Spend two hours at a book signing? Nope! Spend two hours writing a blog post? Absolutely!

    • magicwriter author

      October 2, 2015

      Certainly on Scrib there seems to be a high proportion of introverts.

      Yep I’m planning to carry out most writing related publicity from the comfort of my own home via the Internet 😀

  2. Ydan

    October 3, 2015

    I know what you mean. I’ve always hated to be in crowds of people and I dread social functions. No one ever really “got it” though because I’m far from “shy”. In some ways, working in a hospital has been a blessing. No one tries to talk you out of a shift you need to do at the hospital to attend a “catching up” dinner with ten other people.

    • magicwriter author

      October 3, 2015

      Haha, yes, work can be a good excuse sometimes 😉

      • Dustin Fife

        October 5, 2015

        My work is very comfortable for an introvert. But my brother’s a salesman. Blah!

  3. Cassiopeia Lancaster

    October 13, 2015

    You make a great point.
    I’m an introvert by nature, but I’m an extrovert when it comes to people I’m familiar already and very close with.

    To be honest, I’m not a person who easily let people in my life, but sometimes they slipped into my life without me noticing because we have a great connection or similarities.

    It is truly draining when I’m interacting socially. I feel like I’m losing so much of myself.
    I love being an introvert.

    • magicwriter author

      October 13, 2015

      Yes I’m more outgoing with people I know well, too.

  4. Robin

    October 15, 2015

    As an extrovert myself, writing can be very isolating. I spent 3 years writing/revising my book in complete isolation. Scribophile has been my saving grace because I need to interact with like-minded people. I love the feeling of community among the writers. I love the tag line: “The power of introverts in a world that won’t stop talking.” Isn’t that true!

    • magicwriter author

      October 15, 2015

      I agree, Scrib is a great community 🙂 And has a mix of introverts and extroverts.

Share Your Thoughts

Leave a Comment Below!

%d bloggers like this: