The Oxford Dictionary broadly defines ‘introvert’ as a shy, reticent person. This definition was almost certainly given by an extrovert.
In a world that awards a Jordan Belfort-esque, uber-confident, fist-pumping, hollering personality, introversion is often seen as a disease. It is something that children can be “trained” out of. Something that can be washed away with a couple of swigs of vodka.
Breaking News: No.
Introversion is a personality trait. It is what a person is born with, like the colour of one’s skin or the shape of one’s eyes. It is imperative that this be understood when you encounter an introvert.
And no, a shy person is not the same as an introvert. Neither is a socially anxious person. These are different traits that should not be used interchangeably.
While science is still attempting to find out what makes a person introverted or otherwise, one differentiating process is very clear. Introverts and extroverts just trip on different kinds of dope. Literally.
Dopamine is released when you do stuff like bungee jumping, speeding full throttle on a risky road or even wild, drunk partying. Introverts are rather sensitive to dopamine and these activities which release buckets of dopamine, stress them out. That’s the reason why your introverted friend does not want to spend all night bar-hopping and introducing herself to fifty different strangers!
Extroverts reading this (if I still have your attention), this in no way means that introverts are killjoys or snobs or bores. An introvert still enjoys partying with his friends, but maybe inviting a dozen other people he doesn’t know, isn’t a good idea. Adventure trips are great, but only if it does not involve talking to strangers about how much you got those shoes for, or how awesome you think MTV Roadies is.
This brings me to another myth about introverts. That we do not like people.
Introverts like people. What we absolutely cannot stand is small talk. It is a bunch of meaningless exchanges which does nothing but fill the silence which you are too scared of, for what it might reveal about the world around, and inside, you.
It is also why we prefer texting over phone calls, by the way. It lets us cut straight to the chase and avoid small talk.
Introverts are great talkers in the company of people they are comfortable with, or when they talk about something they deeply care about. It is not shyness or arrogance holding them back, it’s just the wrong timing or the wrong crowd.
Want an example of how much an introvert in her undisturbed element can accomplish? Google a certain author called Joanne Kathleen Rowling.
Introverts derive pleasure out of one-on-one interactions. We actually turn “in”wards for fulfilment and find it in a quiet evening with a friend, or a movie marathon at home, or just watching raindrops patter against the window while sipping coffee.
Don’t feel snubbed if your introverted friend did not call back after that one awesome evening you had. Introverts are not anti-social or arrogant. But social interactions are exhausting for us. We’re just wired that way. Which is why we prefer small circles, or better, one person to talk to at a time.
The next time you want to bring your introvert out of her natural habitat (read in pajamas in her room), try asking her for her idea of a good time, first. Look for a place with comfy seats and soft music, and maybe don’t invite your neighbour’s cousin’s friend along without at least a heads-up.
There. That, in a nutshell, is what goes on in an introvert’s mind. Ready to talk now? Let’s meet for coffee!
Title image: mtvindia