Go or Don't Go: The Whys and Why Nots
When should you indulge, when should you ignore your introversion?
Posted Feb 22, 2017
You know we’re all about embracing your introversion here. I want you to respect your own need for solitude, to learn to protect your boundaries, to feel OK about your natural proclivity for quiet time.
But I try, too, to temper my rah-rah-introversion stance by looking at ways introverts sometimes use our nature as justification for being unsupportive, unkind, or misanthropic; for avoiding civic engagement; for blaming others when we feel lonely or unheard.
I’ve been writing about introversion since my first essay “Confessions of Introverted Traveler” was published on World Hum in early 2009; my first post for the Introvert’s Corner, “Introverts Unite! (Quietly.)" went up a few months later. Since then, I’ve written two books on introversion, and innumerable articles. So I’ve put a lot of time into thinking about introversion.
With all that thinking and writing, I’ve come to understand that there are times when indulging my own introversion is the right thing to do, and times when biting the bullet and doing what I’m not sure I want to is the better choice. Because as much as I feel just fine about being an introvert, I also know that sometimes it's healthier for me, or for my world, if I draw on my inner extrovert and get out and mix it up.
Here are four situations and the considerations I weigh when deciding whether to introvert or extrovert.
Go: The party is being thrown by a good friend who would miss my presence. The party celebrates something meaningful to me or a loved one. My husband or someone else I care about expressly wants my company. Particularly interesting people will be there. It's a dinner party (conversation, limited guest list). I can leave when I’ve had enough. I really want to.
Don’t go: I’m considering going because of FOMO, not because I particularly want to. The party will be so big and raucous my absence is unlikely to be noticed. It's a costume party. I can’t find anyone to go with and don’t want to go so much that I’d go alone. I won’t be able to leave when I’ve had enough. I really don’t want to.
Other social invitations
Go: The person inviting me is someone I like or would like to know better. Topics of conversation are built-in to the activity (e.g. going to a movie, museum, or concert). I’ve been feeling isolated and/or lonely and need interaction. It’s a sit-down meal where I can get to know people. It is related to something that interest me (i.e. literary events). I really want to.
Don’t go: It promises to be uncomfortably interactive (i.e. karaoke). It’s a networking cocktail party. It’s a big group of extroverts. I won't know even one person. I really don’t want to.
Go: It’s something I am passionate about. It’s an activity that doesn’t necessarily require interaction with people. (For example, sorting food at a food bank, cleaning up a park). It’s an ongoing commitment that will allow me to get comfortable with the people on my own slow timetable. More on this here.
Don’t go: It requires carrying a clipboard and approaching strangers, knocking on doors, or making telephone calls.
Go: It’s something I’m passionate about. I can make a cool sign, march, and chant. (Even introverts like getting loud sometimes.) I can get a buddy to go with me. There’s good people watching involved. It just involves sitting and listening. I can go to occasional meetings but mostly engage with just a couple of people and do other work independently. More on this here.
Don’t go: It involves arguing with/debating people who disagree with me.
How about you? What do you weigh in deciding whether to get off the couch or not? For you introverts out there dating--how do you decide whether to day yes or no to a date?
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
100 Places in the USA Every Woman Should Go
The Yankee Chick’s Survival Guide to Texas
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