Understanding introversion has become quite fashionable in recent years. Ted Talks and cute little illustrations abound on social media, pinned and posted by introverts who felt persecuted their whole lives for being deducted five participation points in English class.
We introverts have now transformed into demigods that live outside of the confines of social life: heroes who don’t need humans, intellectuals who use wine to unleash their creativity rather than to get wasted. We’ve become so “in” that I’ve even seen quite a few extroverts parading as introverts, when really they’re just sarcastic bitches whom others hate and avoid.
But I’m beginning to miss the good old days of being misunderstood.
Now, my kindhearted friends are so sensitive about my introvert heart that all my party invites are introduced with, “Hey, I know you’re introverted, so no pressure on this at all, but I have a birthday party this weekend…” Sometimes, they are even so considerate as to not invite me at all to situations that they deem too stressful for my delicate introverted tendencies, situations that only the wild extroverts would appreciate, like sports events and piano bars.
In the old days, each event in my friends’ lives was announced with an invitation accompanied by an expectation and a threat: I would attend, or else. (Think Mean Girls, not The Godfather.)
The threat of losing my friends if I didn’t at least show my face was the only thing that got me out of my room. Now, my friends are thoughtful, giving me so many easy outs to their life’s celebrations that I could easily never see them again.
It would be quite convenient, honestly. Our friendships could simply be occasional texting conversations (as each of us enjoys a bottle of wine in the privacy of our own homes), likes and hearts on each other’s Facebook and Instagram posts, and public posts in which we gush about our extremely close relationship. We could live our own separate lives, using social media to keep our friendships intact. The extroverts could enjoy their loud parties without having to worry about their uncomfortable introverted friends. The introverts could text and tweet from home to stay in touch with the outside world. We wouldn’t have to worry about being disturbed from our element, or of disturbing others.
An introvert’s dream. In theory, at least.
In a world that is now so very aware of my needs, I still find myself unsatisfied. Alone, even. Before I was “understood,” I was pushed. The world was made for and by extroverts–and if I didn’t catch up, I got left behind. My contribution and my participation were expected. Now, the pressure is gone. At least nominally–the world is still dominated by extroverts, but now they allow me to be my freakish, solitary self. And because I can, I let myself get comfortable in silence. I stagnate in solitude.
I like thinking of extroversion and introversion in terms of energy: extroverts recharge their internal batteries by being around people, while introverts recharge by being away. We tend to forget, however, that batteries are meant to be used. After recharging, we should do the thing which drains us—because that, too, is a part of the human experience. I should not merely stay indoors with a good book (as enticing as that may be), because being a fully charged battery with nowhere to spend that energy is meaningless. It leads to its own kind of weariness and restlessness.
Now that the world around me has taken off the pressure of socialization, it is up to me to push myself. I have to make myself speak up. I have to force my voice to speak over my beating heart at meetings, because otherwise I won’t get heard. I have to say, “Yes!!”—enthusiastically, and with multiple exclamation marks—to every party invitation just to remind my friends that I do like getting out, even if it’s not for too long. Because if I don’t force myself to be uncomfortable, I’ll just comfortably collect dust indoors. If I don’t take the risk of going outside and talking to people, I’ll just have to live with the consequences of my safe silence. Life isn’t merely about being comfortable in our own little corner of the world—it’s about getting messy and sweating and being awkward.
Introverts, it’s time to put on your Indiana Jones hats and push yourselves into adventures outside of your bedroom—because the extroverts won’t do it for you anymore. At the end of it all, you can come back home, open a bottle of red, cuddle up in your comfy armchair, and recharge while you tweet about how annoying the outside world is.