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For an Introvert, I Talk A Lot of Shit

October 20, 2010

I’m a terrible blog curator.  I just started this damn thing and I already feel behind.  Dedication isn’t one of my strong points; just ask the once-viewed yoga dvd that came in the mail two weeks ago.  I want to say that I haven’t had time to write because I’ve been so swamped.  That’s not fully true though.

I do keep pretty busy, but I also seem to need more down time than most people.  A few evenings a week where I do nothing but park my ass in front of a tv or a book is heaven to me.  Is that terrible?

I recently read an interesting article on introversion vs. extraversion over at The Introvert’s Corner.  The author brought up a lot of points that I hadn’t considered.  In fact, I wouldn’t have thought to classify myself an introvert if StumbleUpon (aka my boyfriend) hadn’t sent me to the article.  I mean really, does this look like the face of an introvert?

Rocking Out

There are times when I looooove being the center of attention.  To be fair, if there wasn’t alcohol involved I can guarantee that I wouldn’t be belting out Me and Julio Down by the School Yard as if I were Paul Simon playing for Madison Square Garden.  But if I’m out and about I’m usually in the mix, not sitting there eating dessert alone like fucking Steven Glansburg.

a la Superbad

The first point in the article that caught my eye was this idea that “extroverts are outwardly focused and draw energy from social interactions while introverts are inwardly focused and drained by interactions.”

Now that I can relate to.  I have to be in the right mood if I’m going to have a good time interacting with people.  Most of my friends seem to enjoy going out on Fridays…the work week is over and they want to go out and celebrate.  As soon as they start socializing they’re re-energized and ready to make the most of their time away from work.

I’m lame as hell on Fridays.  I’d rather be with my husband (should I come up with a cute bloggy name for him?  Mr. Murph?) or my three besties because we’re all close enough to hang out in a house together and just be.  Maybe play a game of rummy if we’re looking for some adventure.  If I do go out Friday night it’s only for a few beers.  I just don’t have the energy to entertain or be entertained.

The article also discusses the idea that we as a society treat introversion and extraversion as mutually exclusive, that you’re either one or the other.  There’s a certain societal bias that reinforces the idea the extraversion is preferable.  To the point where we obliquely “punish” children who display introverted traits.

Melissa Taylor writes about coming to understand her daughter’s introversion here.  She tried to force her daughter into enjoying activities that other kids liked, even when it was obvious her daughter didn’t want that.  When she realized that being introverted isn’t a social handicap she was happy to let her daughter spend 6 hours knitting a scarf and ignoring everyone and everything around her until it was complete.

As adults, life rarely allows us introverts to sit for 6 hours and focus quietly on one thing.  Unless your husband plays video games.  Score one for me.

There are some general characteristics of introverts that I can relate to.  I hate talking on the phone.  There are 3 people who get an automatic pick-up when I see their name on my caller ID.  With everyone else I weigh the options and usually end up silencing them and calling back when I’m in the mood.  Which is never and that’s why I’m a shitty call returner.

Also, I fucking abhor small talk.  I cannot emphasize this enough.  I don’t want to speak to you about absolutely nothing.  If there’s common interest I’m all for discussion…but I don’t want to listen to you talk just to fill the silence.  Mr. Murph (yup, that’s his new nickname.  He’s gonna be thrilled) is big on chit chat.  We were buying new blinds at Lowe’s and while we were waiting for the computer system to boot up he asks the employee “So, you guys been busy lately?”  WHO THE FUCK CARES?  What is it to you if Lowe’s has been busy or not?  I hate small talk so much that it physically grosses me out.  I walked away and pretended to look at vertical blinds.  Which I also hate, but that’s neither here nor there.

I find this description of introvert vs. extrovert so inviting.  I’d always considered myself an extrovert because I’m good in social situations, I love to make people laugh, and I’m not afraid to disagree with someone or stand up for myself.  Introverts are all awkward and shy and let people walk all over them, right?  But I like that there’s room for me in both arenas.  People want to paint the world in black and white, but don’t acknowledge that the vast majority of us live in gray.

  1. October 21, 2010 9:53 am

    I totally agree! When I’m in the right mood, I can be the life of the party.

    I, too, hate small talk and socially awkward situations. One of my least favorite things is having to spend time with someone (distant family, friend of a friend, etc) and be nice and engaging to them when I have no chance of ever seeing them again. Maybe that makes me a bitch, but I see no point in emotionally investing in someone that I can’t get a return on.

    I was less of a curmudgeon in high school, but I think it just gets worse the more I settle into my job/husband/kids.

    • October 21, 2010 12:19 pm

      I totally agree with not investing time when there’s no return. I’ve actually had really engaging conversations with strangers though. The fact that they were strangers even made it MORE interesting because they came with a viewpoint I wasn’t familiar with. Finding someone that you don’t know that’s willing to honestly talk about their views on racial differences or raising children (without condescension) is rare. Most people don’t want to share their true feelings and opinions, they just want to talk about where their cousin is going to college or what type of toothpaste they prefer.
      I think as we get older we close ourselves off more. It sounds terrible, but I have a lot of friends and a lot of things going on in my life. I don’t have the time or energy to spend with someone who may or may not pan out.

  2. October 21, 2010 10:16 am

    Ah man, I am EXACTLY the same about the phone call thing. I will answer for my mom, my boyfriend and my dad. And sometimes my favorite friend Jen. That’s IT.

    • October 21, 2010 12:23 pm

      There’s one person in my life whom I love very much but I NEVER answer when she calls because the conversation is guaranteed to exceed 20 minutes. And she’s not good at recognizing the “Well alright…” type cues that indicated I’d like to end the call before I hang myself with the telephone cord*.

      *That’s just for effect, telephones don’t have cords anymore silly!

  3. Karen permalink
    October 21, 2010 10:56 am

    Aw crap, now I’m never going to talk to you, cause I won’t be sure if it’s SMALL talk or not! 🙂

    • October 21, 2010 12:26 pm

      You’re not a stranger though. When it’s someone I know and love I’m invested in the person, so even if they’re talking nonsense it holds some interest.

      Have you heard the goofy shit my husband says?? If I didn’t love him I’d want to duct tape his mouth shut. But since I do I (mostly) think it’s cute.

  4. October 22, 2010 9:01 pm

    Ha. You’re just like me.

    I’m a big ol’ attention whore too, but DAMN I need my down-time. I need it badly.

    When I first took the Myers-Briggs personality type test, I came out on the Introvert side, which surprised EVERYONE that I work with. They didn’t believe it. I always say “I’m an introvert who masquerades in life as an extrovert.”

    The truth is that introvertism and extrovertism (I made those words up!) are on a continuum and I’m probably somewhere near the middle. The most recent time I did the Myers-Briggs exercise (corporate HR loves doing these things!) I came out slightly on the extrovert side.

    My old boss was fully extrovert and he knew how I was, so when we had a full week of meetings he would always make sure to accommodate some alone time for me because he knew I would be DRAINED if I didn’t get it. Lord, do I miss him – he also noticed every time I got my hair cut differently. Or else he just always asked “Did you get your hair cut differently?” to be safe, ’cause he was scared of me. LOL

    • October 24, 2010 10:32 am

      Yeah, sometimes I feel like a jerk because I’d rather sit at home than hang out with people. To the point where I’ve lied about having plans so that I can just sit and hang out at home. People don’t like hearing that you don’t have any plans you just don’t want to hang out with them.

  5. not the aunt permalink
    October 27, 2010 9:51 am

    yeah….glad you’re writing….hope you dont’ mind that i found you…wasn’t very hard after i checked in on your mom’s blog though….

    i too am an introvert who pretends to be an extrovert…or maybe i once was an extro & converted to an intro? or maybe i was always an intro & am just now coming out of the closet? but now, i’m just plain tired & want my couch.

    i call my extro side “fake jenny” – it’s who comes out on sales calls, networking functins, awkward social situations, etc. the only time she doesn’t come out is family functions – when i tend to feel like i’m from another planet – so i’m never sure if the extro or intro persona should show…so it’s always a guess at who’s gonna be at thanksgiving dinner – funny jenny (as my friends call me) or quiet jenny who wonders how she got there in the first place? lol

    i also say i’m a type “a” who tries very hard to be a type “b” but never really makes the cut.

    always interesting to see how one evolves!

    • October 28, 2010 10:29 am

      Not at all! I knew that when mom linked me she’d be sending people I know over. It helps that I don’t really put on a different face for family like some people do. There aren’t going to be any great revelations. “Oh my, I didn’t know Katie used swear words!”
      Amber and I were talking about this awhile ago after I read that article. I think a lot of people find it easier to be an extrovert when they’re younger. Maybe it’s because more experiences are new and invigorating so you have a greater desire to throw yourself in.

      Also I know for me, life is just much busier so expending the energy has to come with more return. Especially with meeting new people. I have a lot of friends and family and I feel like I’m always behind when it comes to spending time with them. I can’t keep adding new people and activities that take away from that unless I feel it’ll be really worth it. I feel like an asshole saying that, but it’s true.

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