The world we live in doesn’t make sense to introverted people. We live in an extrovert’s world.
What’s considered normal social behavior is the kind of social behavior engaged in by extroverts.
There are good reasons for this. Human beings are social animals. Due to our natural vulnerabilities as a species – being relatively weak, slow, and lacking adequate physical defenses against predators – human beings have managed to thrive only through grouping together and pooling skills and resources to survive.
Introverts, while a minority, make up a significant enough proportion of the human race as to demonstrate that they’re not just an anomaly but serve some actual collective purpose. Nevertheless, because of the fact that, on the ground, introverts are few and far between (and because of their nature not likely to meet), it can seem at times that there’s no place for an introvert in the world we live in.
Being an introvert doesn’t mean you don’t need people. Introverts suffer from loneliness just like anyone else. Introverts, however, have very different social needs to extroverts, meaning that many conventions don’t make sense to them and don’t suit their temperament.
1. Large gatherings don’t make sense to introverts
If you’re an introvert, or know one, you’ll recognize the inordinately anxious and perhaps petulant response to invitations to large gatherings. Let’s say our introvert is invited to dinner with their partner’s parents, and then finds out at the last minute that they’ll be joined by aunts, uncles, cousins, and some family friends. The introvert might suddenly become furious at having been ‘tricked’ into attending this party. The reason for the frustration is genuine fear and anxiety at the prospect of having to be in the company of more people than was originally expected. Consider that even dinner with parents requires an internal pep talk in advance. Having to speak to new people in an average social setting causes them the same kind of panic that going to a job interview might cause for an extrovert.
2. Small talk doesn’t make sense to introverts
Small talk is something that introverts are famously horrible at. This might seem weird to an extrovert, for whom small talk is a piece of cake – and why shouldn’t it be? It’s hardly rocket science. Well, that’s the thing. For an introvert, rocket science might be an easier conversational route to go down than this excruciating exercise in time-killing, which seems to them to serve no purpose at all. An introvert can barely even think of what to say in these situations. Small talk is so far from what’s going on in their heads that it doesn’t make sense to them at all. This is not to suggest that introverts are cleverer than extroverts. The point is that small talk involves talking about external things, things that are deemed appropriate to talk about on short acquaintance. But introverts spend so little time observing external phenomena that talking about them is completely unnatural to them.
3. Office parties don’t make sense to introverts
An introvert can’t make sense for a minute of why you’d want to spend any more time with people you don’t know intimately than you have to. For an introvert, the workplace is a place for work (or quiet idling of course – introvert by no means equals Saint), but once it’s time to go home, the idea of ‘getting together’ for any longer than is absolutely necessary doesn’t make sense to them at all. They’ll try to think of any excuse to get out of it, but most of the time just have to endure it as not showing up to work-related social events ‘reflects badly on an employee’.
4. Mobile phones don’t make sense to introverts
For introverts, who spend half their lives avoiding having to speak on the phone (which is even more panic-ridden than having to speak to people face-to-face for them), the mobile phone was a disastrous development. Why oh why would anyone want to make it easier for people to find them? Weren’t we fine the way we were why you could pretend you just weren’t home? Now, there’s no doubt that introverts learn pretty quick to appreciate mobile telephony when they get lost in town or miss the last bus home, but in general, it’s a technological development they could have done without.
5. Shopping on Saturdays doesn’t make sense to introverts
There are few more nightmarish prospects for an introvert than the prospect of a shopping trip on the busiest day of the week. Most introverts could forego the shopping experience altogether in favor of online shopping, if only it was easier to ensure you got something you’d like. Introverts might struggle with finding their style in the first place, as, being less focused on the external world, they don’t tend to have a good feel for fashion. However, going into a crowded and bustling shop almost guarantees that they’ll buy the wrong thing or simply give up and walk out. The noise and lack of personal space makes them so panicked that concentrating on the already tough task of trying to style themselves becomes impossible.
A lot of the behavior of introverts doesn’t make sense to extroverted people. Introverts might seem rude or unfriendly. This isn’t the case at all. In fact, introverts can be the kindest, most well-intentioned people you can meet. Once you understand the reasons why they react the way they do, it all starts to make sense.
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