I recently read an article on here entitled ‘5 Things Introverts Need to Stop Doing’, and forced myself to read it. Usually, I find these list-type articles entertaining and sometimes thought provoking. However, this one I read just to see what it is exactly I need to stop doing as an introvert. After reading the article, to say I was disappointed would be an understatement.
I realize that everyone has a different definition of what exactly an introvert is, and that people will inevitably try and fit themselves into that category to be ‘different’ or seem in some way separate from everything and everyone else. However, one thing that I can say with certainty is that introverts find being around people draining, and to recharge, they need a lot of space and ‘me time’. This was understanding is what I found to be severely lacking in the article I read. So, here is my response with 5 Things Introverts Do Not Need to Stop Doing.
1. Thinking we’re deeper or more intelligent than extroverts.
This is not so much a problem that introverts have, as much as society as a whole has. There are always going to be people everywhere who think they are better, more intelligent or deeper human beings than everyone else. Pinning this thought process on just introverts is demeaning, and shines a vastly wide and horrible spot light solely on introverts. Are there introverts who think they are deeper and / or more intelligent than extroverts? Absolutely. But there are also extroverts who think they are more deep and intelligent than introverts. It’s a two way street.
2. Defining ourselves by what we’re not.
Again, this is a problem that a vast majority of the people I have met have, not just introverts. It is the society we live in, we are constantly bombarded with the way we should act, instead of accentuating the different ways that people act, and the value in having differences. In the article I am responding to, the author says ‘often you see people saying they hate small talk because it’s so shallow as opposed to saying they prefer more in-depth discussions…’. Personally, I generally do not say more than I need to to get the point across. Saying I hate small talk, which I definitely do, is my much less wordy way of saying ‘I enjoy more in-depth conversations about something I am passionate about’. Is the latter a more personable and polite way of saying it? Hell yes, but unless I am talking to someone who I know very well, I will not say more than I need to. Because ‘small talk’ with someone I just met on the bus is much more draining to me than having a good, deep conversation with a good friend. That is not defining me as what I am not, it is defining me as who I am. Telling me that stating something about myself matter-of-factly is defining me as something I am not is ridiculously offensive.
3. Saying ‘no’ too much.
Who are you to judge how often I say ‘no’ to something. Yes, I say ‘No’ a lot. I hate going out in big crowds, or showing up to a large party with a bunch of my friends’ friends. Being around a lot of people more often than every once in a while is incredibly draining on me, and I always feel like I need a week to recuperate to feel ready to face a single person again. Unfortunately, because I am a full time student with a job and other responsibilities, I cannot lay in bed all day for a week straight. Being in school, and going to work, being around people for sometimes 16 hours a day is more than enough social time for me. I cherish the alone time I get when I can finally crawl into bed and read or watch my TV shows for an hour before actually going to sleep. When I say ‘no’ to going out with people, it is because I have not had enough alone time, and I am completely worn out. It is not because I am afraid that I will not enjoy myself, or because I am afraid that I will get worn out. It is because I am ALREADY worn out and seriously need some time to myself, to live in my own world. No true introvert will ever feel lonely while being alone if the rest of their life is fulfilling.
4. Acting like it’s fine to not know how to interact with other people.
Yes, serious anxiety problems and shyness can hold you back in life. And I fully support anyone who wants to go out and get help for that. However, my anxiety that I get when out with a group of people is my indicator that I need to recharge my batteries. The ‘social interaction toolkit’ the author described was like something I would give to a sociopath, or someone with a serious personality disorder. Not an introvert. We all know to make eye-contact, smile and have basic knowledge on things that may interest other people. However, I do not live to serve other people. I don’t give a rats ass about sports, or TV shows I think are stupid, so I am not going to keep up on them so I can have small talk with someone I don’t really want to be talking to anyways. If I want the person to know I care about them and their interests, I will ask them about it. The people I care about know I care about them, not because I am interested in their sports or TV shows or because I make eye contact and smile when appropriate. It is because of the actions I take to show them, like making their favorite dessert for no reason, or show up at work and surprise them with coffee. The little gestures I make mean the most, because it is something tangible, not just words flying out of my mouth.
5. Not investing in relationships, and then acting like martyrs when we don’t have friends
This is the one point that I take the most issue with. No true introvert that I know has ever complained about not having friends. They know they have friends. I know I have friends. We just don’t have A LOT of friends, which is perfectly fine. I do not find that maintaining relationships is hard, because I only have a few close friends, some acquaintances and then everyone else. It is not hard because those I keep close in my life, mean a lot to me, so I care about keeping them around. It isn’t work, it isn’t a sacrifice, and I truly enjoy doing things with my people. And those who know me, and respect me, know that I need a lot of me time. So they don’t push when I say I’m not feeling up to grabbing coffee or dinner when they ask me to go out with them, they don’t judge me for it, and they certainly do not think I do not care about them or our relationship.