December 12th, 2012

tea

You May Be an Introvert If ...

I just thought I'd reached the quiet part of my holiday season. Things keep springing up. For instance, I'm about to go meet up with my brother for coffee (or some coffee alternative for me) while he's in town on business and between customer meetings. Mind you, I'm not complaining about people wanting to spend time with me, but I tend to freak out when my calendar fills up. I enjoy these things when I'm doing them, but at the same time I need some space.

While I'm going through my busy-season freak-out, it's funny that there seem to be so many articles about introversion coming out. It's mostly due to some very good publicity for the book The Introvert's Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World by Sophia Dembling, who used to write for our local newspaper and who was on my media contact list when I was doing PR for the medical school. The latest article was on how to tell if you're an introvert.

Let's see how accurate it is:
#1 -- The more isn't the merrier -- that's mostly true for me. Unless I can find a small group within a big mass of people, I just freeze or I turn invisible. When I'm on my own at a big convention, I can quietly drift through a crowd without being noticed at all.

#2 -- Doing nothing is doing something -- YES! I consider plans I make with myself -- even if the plan is to stay home and watch TV or read -- to be just as valid as plans I make with someone else. I'm willing to break those plans if something better comes along, unlike anything I've committed to with others, but I also don't feel at all guilty for declining invitations because I've made plans with myself. It's my pet peeve when I decline something with "I have plans" and someone asks what those plans are. For one thing, it's none of their damn business and it's rude to ask, but for another, I know if I say what those plans are that they won't consider those plans to be "real" plans that are a valid reason for declining an invitation. This is part of why this time of year is so difficult for me. One of my favorite things to do during the holiday season is to sit at home and enjoy my decorations while reading, listening to Christmas music or snarking at Lifetime Christmas movies. I feel really freaked out if my schedule of going out starts to fill up and I don't have time for this sort of thing. That's one reason staying home until Christmas morning turned out to be such a great idea last year. Nobody's really around the few days before Christmas, so I get enough quiet time at home before I go spend time with my family.

#3 -- You feel like your head will explode -- I found this interesting because it's true, but I hadn't associated it with introversion, though it makes sense, and it fits with the Jung I've read. Since introverts are so internal, their brains are busy, and that's why sometimes external stimuli are just too much to add to the mix. I spend most of my days in total silence, not even playing background music.

#4 -- You hide in the bathroom -- I actually don't do this. I'd feel guilty hogging the bathroom at a party. I'm more likely to find a quiet corner of the room and just sit there and zone out for a while.

#5 -- You leave parties soon after arriving -- I don't do this, either, unless I don't manage to find a small group. I do another thing the author mentioned in this section, though, which is stay in one place and let the party come to me. I don't go out mingling but will mingle with others as they pass. See #4 about finding a quiet corner and staying there.

#6 -- You don't answer a ringing phone -- I generally do answer the phone, though I am often irked when it's someone who just wants to chat and I'm not up for it -- I'm getting better about not answering the phone when I really don't want to chat. However, I never place phone calls unless it's for a specific purpose -- making an appointment, planning something, conveying important news. Calling someone just to chat is utterly foreign to me. I've ended up ditching men I was dating because they didn't get the combo of this and #2. When I had a day job, I usually didn't go out on Friday nights because I needed the quiet time at home after being around people all week. If I declined a Friday night date invitation and the guy pushed to know why, it was strike one. If I explained and then he called on Friday night either because he was making sure I was home instead of giving him the brush-off to go out with someone else or because he knew I'd be home, then I figured he just didn't get me and there was no point in pursuing the relationship further. The first option was a red flag danger sign. The second, assuming that I'd want to talk on the phone when I needed a night to decompress, was the kind of cluelessness it's difficult to train out of people because if you even try, they take offense.

#7 -- You prefer one close friend over a lot of acquaintances -- yes and no for me, but that's probably because of the group I hang with. I have a large group of friends that's an actual organization (more or less a social club), and I often do things with the whole group, but I have a few close friends within that group that I socialize with beyond group activities. I don't know that I really have "acquaintances," other than people like neighbors or people I see at church but don't see away from church.

#8 -- You don't know what people find to talk about -- I have no problem with conversation, probably because most of the people I interact with socially are like-minded. I am, however, utterly baffled by the people who live on their cell phones all day long, who never seem to not be in a conversation, and who break out in a cold sweat if they have to go five minutes without texting. I don't know what they find to talk about. Even I would run out of things to say after that long. See also #6 about hating the phone

#9 -- You avoid audience participation events -- I don't really mind in performing arts situations, but I hate audience participation writing workshops where you share what you're working on. For one thing, I don't write on command. I need to think things through, not take five minutes to write a paragraph that will be shared with the class. For another, I don't like talking about ideas much until I've written them, and I certainly don't want to tell a room full of strangers what I'm working on, and yet it's a waste of time to go through the exercises with a hypothetical story I don't plan to write. Just tell me what the exercises are, and then I'll go home and work through them on my own. I don't need to show off by reading my work to the group.