Tuesday, February 10, 2015

...More Like Introjerk—How to Live in Harmony with Your Contravert

From the Archives: A discussion on introversion/extroversion based on two girls who were broke and started a cupcake company shared a job, a car, an apartment and all meals and workouts...

There was a part of me that thought—for one second—”I'm gonna make this really, really good!”

People are sometimes confused when they learn that I'm an introvert. I understand. Because the thing is—I'm not particularly shy. Sometimes I even feel really on and chatty and can seamlessly flow from funny quibble to quippish anecdote like nobody's business(*1), but afterwords I'm exhausted and then suffer a crisis over my vacillating authenticity and temperamental bravado, which is followed by a pretty dark and weird tormented internal monologue that goes something like this:


Maybe I'm an ambivert.

A lot of you are familiar with my friend and occasional travel partner and onetime part-time temporary roommate, Kady, of A Lady Reveals Nothing, and perhaps you and I even share her in common as our most extroverted friend—or even the most extroverted human we know.

Here she is just...hanging out with strangers like it's no big deal. Like they're not going to suck all of her life-force vital energy from her:

Here are some examples of Kady's manifested extroversion:
  • When she places a phone call, she doesn't chant, “please don't pick up please don't pick up” over and over under her breathe.
  • She smiles and waves at every single stranger we encounter, especially if they speak English. But non-English speakers are also invited into her charming orb of interaction.
    • The girl can talk. Someone once asked her, “Do you ever think anything you don't say?”
    (it wasn't me)
        I, on the other hand, viewed our  New Orleans carpool commute to work as a social activity. On top of that, while we lived together working in New Orleans, I kept accidentally saying really mean things to her. Just two days into living and working together I said, “Man, we really need to be sure and schedule time apart.” See, I assumed she needs her alone time as much as I do, so this is what I meant to say:

          • we live together
          • we work together
          • we commute to work together
          • we work out together
          • we know the same people
          • we cook and eat together
        ...and I want to make sure that whenever possible I make myself scarce so you don't start hating me.”

        My statement was about taking preventative measures to stay friends. But after it came out of my mouth I realized it sounded a lot more like, “Gawwwd I'm sick of your face.”

        How could I ever get sick of this face?

        My intro-awkwardness spills over into other categories of everyday life. For example, I really struggle with talking on the phone. It doesn't matter who you are or how much I love you; the entire interaction gives me anxiety. I've decided a lot of it stems from having no idea how the conversation is going to end.

        AND because I over-analyze everything, and because there are no visual cues, I'm convinced you are racking your brain trying to find a polite way to get rid of me. And because I am absurdly sensitive to rejection (yeah, another shocker for those who also think I'm an extrovert), I'm trying to break up with you before you break up with me.

        I had come up with a solution in recent years to say, “I'm so sorry but I really, really have to go to the bathroom.” First off, this is never a lie, because, as Kady will attest, I always have to go to the bathroom. But I made the mistake of telling people about this conversation-exit strategy and then some of my really good friends informed me that I've used that one on them.

        The other day before Kady and I headed out for a night on the town (which for this introvert meant changing out of sweatpants and getting a drink 20 steps from our doorstep), I realized I was ready and she was preoccupied. She said, “I'm sorry; I'm chatting with three different people, but I'm wrapping it up.” I let out a deep sigh and said, “I'm so exhausted by what you just said I think I need to lie down.”

        We then chatted about the differences between her extro and my intro, and when she asked if she was annoying, I assured her that she was in no way ever doing anything wrong. But I couldn't even say that in a non-mean way. In fact, I said this:
        “You've done absolutely nothing to annoy me but I'm just so aware of your presence all the time.”
        After reading about what an introjerk I am, it's very important you know I have spent time on both sides of the “___version” fence; I've just been stuck over here on the intro side for a much longer period of time. And because my ambiversion obviously translates into my being an expert on the topic, I've accumulated some important information for both intros and  extros:

        Many extroverts at times experience guilt over their extroversion.
        • They may believe that they are perceived as obtuse, narcissistic, overbearing or even unintelligent.
        • They may fear they make others uncomfortable with their gregarious or possibly domineering nature.
        Many introverts at times experience guilt over their introversion.
        • They may believe that they are perceived as judgmental, snooty or even unintelligent.
        • They may fear they make others uncomfortable with their reserved nature.
        Do not assume an extrovert is a confident person.
        • They may be painfully insecure or suffer from extremely low self-esteem.
        • They might envy the introvert's air of mystery and apparent poise.
        Do not interpret an introvert's reticence as judgment or disdain.
        • They're probably just letting it all sink in.
        • They may be painfully insecure or suffer from extremely low self-esteem.
        • They might even envy the extrovert's apparent social ease.
        Extroverts are often jealous of introverts' personae or personalities. 

        Introverts are often jealous of extroverts' personae or personalities. 

        Introverts are not necessarily smarter than you just because they don't say stupid things.
        • I mean, they usually say a lot less, the math...
        Do not assume what you see is what you get—and all you get—when observing an extrovert.
        • There's more to every story, dummy
        And in conclusion, if you are an extrovert sharing a space or a life with an introvert who needs some alone time, know that they are not necessarily sick of you; sometimes they're just sick of not being alone.

        And if you are an introvert, remember that no matter how earnest your intentions are, it always and only sounds really mean to say, “Wow this movie looks so good! You should go see it... yourself... or right now...”

        (*1) and sometimes I apparently say “like nobody's business”


        1. Is it Extroversion or Narcissism that I love this post because it's all about me?

        2. Really loved this one! This introvert can relate. Miss you! Call me sometime soon... and I don't care how you end the conversation.

        3. Summer, you want to spend the winter with us?....Kady doesn't live here anymore.
          Mom Hexum

        4. I also HATE talking on the phone. Shash has many times commented on how painfully obvious that is when on the phone with me. Can you imagine how awkward a phone conversation would be between you and I? I swear to always text you. This is because I love you.

        5. Laurissa: Yay! And yes I want to talk to you; I did leave you a message :)
          Hex-Mom: I've been weighing my options; I'll get back to you. Love, Stormy
          Jana: hilarious. Also, your husband talks soooooooo much on the phone.

        6. I feel the EXACT same way about the phone. I thought I was the only one! There's something just off about the formality of it and not being able to see any body language. Perfect explanation of introvert/extrovert.

        7. Thanks Laura. The other thing is, I scored like a 24 out of 30 on that stupid autism facebook test, but I think it was more appropriately an "ADD" test. I am so easily distracted I basically have to lie in bed and close my eyes to focus on a conversation which is impossible. I need to see faces.

        8. love this post! i also hate the phone for the exact same reasons. someone you and i both know used to say "i have to go, because i'm abrupt." & then hang up.
          try that! it's funny and to the point.
          i'd like to add that sometimes don't approach people that i:
          a.) haven't seen for a while
          b.) only sort of know through other friends
          c.) met once at a party
          because i:
          a.) am convinced that they don't remember me
          b.) sometimes find small talk exhausting
          and NOT because i'm a snob who thinks i'm better than they are.

        9. Anonymous- are you my soul-mate? Who are you? I think your name starts with a "K"

        10. I just kinda prefer not to answer the phone in the first place (& more often than not, don't). Leave me a message & if it's really important, & when I have the energy & have psyched myself up, I'll call you back:))

        11. Introverts of the world unite and take over! Not only am I the same way with the phone and people in general, but I also have to pee all the time, too. It's annoying, right?

        12. Wow, I can really relate to this, as I am kind of an ambi-vert myself. I find myself distancing myself from my roommate without her asking because I don't want her to feel like I am intruding too much on her life. And I also need my time alone to do certain things. I spend a lot of time alone and I like it, but that can be draining for me. Being around other people (to a certain degree) recharges me. I feel like I am constantly walking the line.

          ANYWAY, great insights into both sides... and helpful. :)

        13. This is perfect. You sum it up when you mention the EXHAUSTED feeling after being "on" in social situations (I can relate). We introverts aren't necessarily shy, we just get energy from being alone - and vice versa for extroverts.

        14. I SOOO relate. My friends get mad at me for never calling or picking up when they call, but I absolutely hate talking on the phone and not being able to end the conversation. At my job, we have to call customers on a regular basis, and I nearly get thrown into a panic attack every time someone actually picks up the phone. I'm talkative and have a lot of friends, but I would honestly rather just sit around the house and watch TV than put effort into social situations. It makes me feel like a loser, so it's nice to hear that it's not just me! We're not losers, just introverts. Yay!

        15. I was a wicked extrovert for years, and then I just got tired. And I was already in my late 20s and I started spending time alone, and then really treasuring my alone time. Now I'm in my thirties and I can't commit to social engagements, or at least I reserve the right to flake at the last minute at any time, and I don't like having people in my house because I don't know if/when they will leave, and I have basically my own bedroom even though I am married just so I can maintain my own space. I feel like I transitioned, but I just chalk it up to getting older. But sometimes I wish I had the energy to be up all night making new friends and taking spontaneous weekend trips and double-booking myself and making my weird friends hang out with my other weird friends in awkward social encounters...and now I need a nap just thinking about it.

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        17. Best.blogpost.ever. Thank you for digging this out of the archives. I totally could have written this. I mean, if I was a good writer, and had a blog. I coulda.

        18. This just hit my E-mail at 9:35pm last night. I absolutely love it to include the "Broke Girls" photo of Kady & You!! Your writing is awesome "HoboSiren," keep it up...


        Your comments are why I get out of bed in the morning. Just kidding. But I do like them.