An Extrovert's Lament, An Introvert's Response

Considering "6 Things Every Extrovert Secretly Has to Deal With."

Posted Mar 08, 2014

Are you surpised that a lot of introverts haven't been particularly receptive to the essay "6 Things Every Extrovert Secretly Has to Deal With"?

Me neither. Introverts have little sympathy for extroverts in general, mostly because they/we feel like we/they have been beaten down long enough.

I do sympathize with the writer's peevishness about the whole "introverts rock" movement. It's not that I don't think introverts rock, I just don't agree, as some insist, that introverts rock better or harder than extroverts do. They just rock differently. I don't think we're generally more creative, or deeper, or smarter or any of those things. We just interact with the world differently.

That said, though, let's take a look at Ms. Santo Domingo's concerns one by one. Not to shoot them down, just to consider, since I'm all about hands across the water and kumbaya and all that.

1."People will often assume you're flirting." This may be true and it's certainly nothing I've ever thought about, although I imagine part of the issue for this writer is that she's an attractive 22-year-old woman. I have to wonder if this is a problem across the board—does she have this problem if she's talking to, say, a 50-year-old woman? A 75-year-old man? (OK, maybe she does, but how terrible is that? He probably doesn't think she's actually trying to make a love connection.) And is she 100 percent sure there isn't flirtatiousness in her approach? Maybe she's more flirtatious than she realizes. I was always less flirtatious than I thought. Even when I was her age, I was so inept at flirting that even when I tried to flirt people didn't really notice.

2. "You're not allowed to be sad." You're allowed to be anything you want to be, as long as you don't really worry about what people think or say. She says that if she doesn't act the clown, she is "boo'd off stage." Tough crowd she's hanging with. Besides, most introverts are accustomed to people being dissatisfied with our quiet ways. You get used to it and stop caring. That's part of what this whole introvert-positive movement is about.

People often debate introverts, like myself, who aren't shy, claiming that we can't possibly be introverted because we aren't always cowering in corners. And to tell the truth, I still get a little embarrassed when someone points out when I'm acting extroverted, as if I've been caught at something embarrassing or have somehow gone too far and am making a fool of myself.

3. "You're expected to keep the conversation going." This one made me smack my forehead for a few reasons. First of all, it takes the extrovertcentric view that everyone wants to keep the conversation going. Sometimes sitting quietly is absolutely fine.

In addition, as an introvert on my Facebook page pointed out, if extroverts stopped trying so hard to keep the conversation going, maybe introverts would have enough air space to join in. A lot of times, we just give up trying to speak up because it's too much work for us to break into others' chatter.

And finally, I'm perfectly capable of keeping conversation going, except that usually, rather than doing it by talking, I do it by asking questions.

4. "Being labeled as shallow or unintellectual because you’re not an introvert." Yeah, I'll give her this one. I think that does happen and I don't like it. It's wrong.

5. "Craving the company of others." I'm sure this is true—is it a problem? For my blog post "Why Extroverts Are So Friggin' Needy" I even asked my Board of Extroverts what it feels like when they have been isolated too long and got some interesting responses. 

6. "People assuming you are always confident." This one is interesting because I never have assumed that. In fact, the harder an extrovert works on getting attention, the less confident I think they are. I guess this is the flip side of people assuming that introverts are shy. So let's just agree that we all have times when we're confident and when we're not and allow each other that common humanity.

What do you think about all this?


Thanks to Thrifty Look for the image, via Flickr (Creative Commons).

Check out my books, Introverts in Love: The Quiet Way to Happily Ever After; The Introverts Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World; and 100 Places in the USA Every Woman Should Go. Support your local independent bookstore; click here to find an indie near you.

And if you'd like to hang out with me and a bunch of other introverts, come to my Facebook page. We have fun there, in an introvertish way.