Crowd and separate individual

Being an Introvert

The internet is full of reassurances that it’s okay to be an introvert — but here are ten ways to make yourself look like an extrovert. Because that’s what you must do if you want to succeed in life. And anyway, it’s good for you to get out of your comfort zone.

That was then. Things are different now.

Now that so many are having to self-isolate and work from home, introverts have the edge. It’s the extroverts who are feeling uneasy and having to resort to special techniques to ease their anxiety.

I almost wrote a mocking list of tips to help extroverts to get over their feelings of deprivation for the company of others, but then I remembered that many have no choice about being cut off right now. In “normal” times, we introverts have to do some faking performing in certain areas of our lives, but at the end of the day we can return to our preferred environments. Self-isolated or quarantined extroverts right now don’t have a choice. I acknowledge all that, but here’s my list of…

Un-serious Tips for Isolated Extroverts

Simulate your preferred environment. Gather all pets, stuffies, and dolls into a small room. Crank up the music. Add crowd noise using another device. Dance up a storm.

Find non-human crowds. Seek out places frequented by flocks of noisy crows, gulls, or starlings. Parking lot? Garbage dump? Bring bird seed or french fries. Pretend the birds are humans. Mingle.

Hug a tree. (This is a real thing. Read more here.)

Do some role-playing. (A workshop facilitator’s favourite.) Play all the roles. In costume. Make a video you can watch later. Or replay that argument you lost, this time remembering the killer line.

If all else fails, fake it ’til you make it. Gradually extend the times you’re alone in a quiet room. Eventually you may get used to it and stop wanting to scream. And hey — getting outside your comfort zone is good for you!

A Few Serious Thoughts

Until I learned that extroverts draw energy from being with other people, while introverts experience an energy drain in those situations, I thought there was something fundamentally wrong with me. I wasn’t trying hard enough. I had a bad attitude. If I didn’t fix myself, I’d be a failure in life.

In recent years, books by authors such as Susan Cain, Laurie Helgoe, and Marti Olsen Laney have changed introversion from a pathology to an almost okay personality trait. Almost okay, still. In North America, at least, extrovert qualities are expected of those who want success in life, especially working life.

Is it possible to be successful — however one measures success — as an introvert, rather than a pseudo-extrovert? It depends. If you make the right choices and acquire skills that permit you to work mostly alone and earn enough to live decently, the answer is “Yes.” But not everyone can do that.

Some people, myself included, make the choice to apply for jobs in supervisory or managerial positions because those jobs pay better. Team players are valued more than lone wolves. Even we introverts can fake our way through a job interview. Unfortunately, by taking jobs that don’t suit our personalities, we may be setting ourselves up for a harder time at work than if we were extroverts. And if we don’t fit our jobs comfortably, we’re shortchanging the people we work for and with. It’s a lose-lose-lose situation.

I’m sure I’m not the only person who found her true calling after retirement from a “real” job. I’ve also discovered that if there’s something I really want to achieve, and the only way I can do it is by looking like an extrovert, I’ll gladly fake and perform. For a while, anyway.

At least I’m no longer a closet introvert. And right now, we intros are having our moment.

Flock of birds with one flying away
Can you spot the intro-bird?

Are any of you introverts? How has that influenced your life? And how are you dealing with our Covid19-constricted world?

Images by Alexas Fotos and TeeFarm from Pixabay.

67 comments

  1. I am an introvert, Audrey, and I dislike working with other people as they can never understand how I get to an outcome, although they agree with the outcome usually, they just can’t work out the steps needed to get there. I operate back to front from most accountants. I work out where we need to go and then plot how to get there using, and adjusting, the available tools. Others take the tools we have and say it can’t be done. I am happy to be a lone wolf and I have made some financial sacrifices due to it, such as passing up on becoming a partner because I know I can’t do the people side. Money is not my main motivator, interest and enjoyment are, so I don’t mind. Hooray for introverts, we write the classic books, are the famous singers, composers, musicians and artists.

    Liked by 11 people

        1. Now that I think about it, where the introvert/extrovert differences come most into play (and not in a good way) is in job interviews. I can’t begin to count the number of search committees I’ve been on that hired the extrovert who interviewed well but turned out to be a total dud on the job.

          Liked by 2 people

    1. Some of us are better at getting things done, and others excel at helping or teaching others. It seems you have been able to follow a course where you are both effective and happy. I was able to do that in part but always felt I wasn’t at my best with the people parts of my job. Thanks for your comments, Robbie. Much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. This: ‘Money is not my main motivator, interest and enjoyment are…’ Yes. I suspect most introverts are like this – backroom ‘boyz’ who are in it for the love of the challenge rather than the financial reward. In this, I’m pure introvert. Well said.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Iยดm an extravert and thought this isolation time would drive me crazy. But I have taught myself to bring out my inner introvert and Iยดm OK. MInd you, I have the internet to connect with people which helps. Lots of Skyping, Zooming and video messaging going on. I also have my characters to commune with. (and the birds and insects and my dog of course) The other day I found myself chatting with an ant!!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Haha, I love the idea of chatting with an ant! I always talk to birds and squirrels that visit the garden. Being able to have contact with other life forms makes a big difference to everyone, I suspect. And technology helps to maintain human relationships at a distance. Glad to hear you’re holding up, Darlene, and thanks for your comments!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That combination sounds great, JeanMarie. I wonder if it could be achieved by some sort of effort. I think it would have to be as a result of internal motivation, though, and not just because one was being told to “fix” oneself. Thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I have to admit I’m loving this lockdown – no noise, no interruptions with my writing – but I find less stimulation overall. I an only an extrovert if people respond to me eg laugh at my jokes and witticisms, then I’m on a roll/ Now wondering if I’m a psychopath with a split personality.
    .

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Studies have proven that everyone is both introverted and extraverted, just one is stronger than the other in most of us. Mind you, you are a writer, Lucinda so you are probably a psychopath!! I think all writers are. LOL.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Yes, there must be something a little weird about folks who invent people and put them through torturous experiences. And I forgot to say I thought your idea about socializing with our characters to be a good one. Another way we writers deal with difficult situations.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. You know, Lucinda, I think I’m the same. In a situation where I’m with people who seem to be on the same wavelength as me, I can become energized and social, at least for a while. But I find the prospect of going out to mingling type events to be quite daunting.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Susan Cain’s book Quiet was really interesting. I learned the difference between being shy and being an introvert. (I used to think they were the same thing.) I’m not an extreme introvert, but I have a lot of the introvert tendencies, and I do like quiet time to recharge every day. I’m fine right now, just worried about those who are NOT fine, whether they’re having health, emotional, or financial problems.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It must be horrible for anyone to be cooped up with one’s family, worried about money, and not knowing how long that situation will last. Regardless of personality type. Some governments have made extra resources available for mental health support; I hope they’re working.

      Like

  5. Audrey, I had to laugh at this post. You could have been describing my career path. I used to hate what I called mandatory group gropes. Going out with a few friends is fun, but having to mingle with dozens of people in an enforced environment is my idea of torture.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Totally an introvert and have become more so as the years roll by. It’s one of the reasons my job was so draining — because it forced me to be constantly around people, in meetings and otherwise, constantly interacting with small and large groups of people. It took me a long time to realize that just being in that environment was stressful for me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It was a relief to realize it wasn’t just me being willfully bad or not trying hard enough, but even so, it’s tough. I was fortunate to be in a job where I wasn’t in meetings and group situations all the time, but I always felt I should be doing more of that stuff. It’s weird that your retiring coincided with the pandemic — you went from one extreme to the other.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Definitely from one extreme to the other. ๐Ÿ˜‰

        One of the additional aspects for me is how I viewed my role in the organization I worked in since 2002, and also an element of my personality.

        I was in a position of authority and as such believed it to be part of my responsibilities to hear people and to help them with whatever issues they were having at work. As a result, I became a sponge for everybody else’s complaints. I went from meetings to my office where people would come in and vent and complain and whine and I would do what I could to address their complaints and issues. And then back to meetings and then back to my office for more venting.

        As a result, I rarely had the opportunity for peace and quiet in the workplace. And then there was the constant noise at home from the family. I began to enjoy my commutes — in my car, by myself, alone with my thoughts. In some respects, those times and when I went for runs were the only times when I really got to be me.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m actually experiencing introvert guilt syndrome right now. I just told my wife yesterday that it felt like our life was almost normal, aside from the empty store shelves and closed parks. Other than that, we live in an introvert bubble, and it seems safe and secure.

    I feel terrible about it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Haha, I’m the same, Kevin! Grocery shopping is about the only time I see people I don’t know now — from 6 feet away, of course. It’s nice not having to have those “Should I go? I don’t really want to, but I ought to. Geez, I just don’t know,” thoughts. There’s nowhere to go! ๐Ÿ˜€

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Only an introvert could have written such a cogent and entertaining post…

    What if I said I just don’t like people, but like individuals? Enjoy brainstorming, by myself. Like plot driven stories more than character driven ones. Utterly enjoy movies like 28 days later, Jeremiah Johnson, Castaway, etc. but will sing along with Paint Your Wagon, or the Music Man. Used to get up a five a.m. on Sundays just to ride my bike around what felt like an abandoned city. And have been collecting apocalyptic stories for ages…

    There’s something about solving problems, alone, that invigorates me. I guess that’s why I’m a software developer and, though I generally hate it, find that it fits my personality.

    What if I said I dread the return to normalcy?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I can understand that dread. When I was working, any week I could just stay in the office with the same half dozen people was a good week.
      I like novels with interesting, complex characters, but only a few at a time. And if they have something interesting to do (i.e., plot).
      Before I learned about the personality types, I just thought of myself as a misanthrope. Reading Robinson Jeffers and his concept of inhumanism helped.
      Thanks for contributing to the comments here!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I find it intriguing that it’s not all that many years since the APA tried to classify ‘introversion’ as a diagnosable mental disorder. When I was a kid, of course, there was no such thing as an ‘introvert’ and the cure for feeling drained when being around people was apparently to spent MORE time around people, apparently I’d soon learn how to draw energy from them and be normal. It never worked. Hmmn. On matters lockdown and introversion – yeah, I liked the idea from the viewpoint of (a) not having any writing interruptions, and (b) not having to deal with having too many people around, which is always draining. Right now, though, we’re approaching Day 30 of it in New Zealand and I discover there is such a concept as ‘too much of a good thing’.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, even introverts like to go to coffee shops or movies or concerts. But I remember reading school textbooks that said quite unequivocally that it’s unhealthy not to socialize with others, join in group activities, etc.

      Like

  10. I’m an introvert and have always found that being around people drained me of energy. So the lockdown is not bothering me at all; I’m communing with the cat and with my characters on the page. The only thing I miss is doing water-fit at the community pool. And I never minded exercising in a group of 50 or 60 people — as long as none of them talked to me! Saying hello is fine, but asking me how I am always leaves me scrabbling for an answer. So I’m usually “fine.” Being “fine” makes life so much simpler. For everybody.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Yes, “fine” is a useful word in those situations. I’m okay in situations like meetings, where everyone sits in one spot and there’s an agenda. Sort of like exercise classes, where you’re there for a specific purpose. My idea of hell are situations involving free-floating groups of strangers where one is expected to mingle and “network.” Ugh.

      Like

  11. I’m an extrovert, and I have missed being around people since this whole thing started. (Nothing against my terrific wife.) I try not to whine because others are making sacrifices far greater than me. What you are writing about is real, Audrey. The pandemic has affected my mood because much of my life centers around daily interaction with others. It’s what makes me happy. Phone calls and texts help some, but I miss the hugs and the laughs. As has been discussed in great detail in many posts, I lost my writing groove for a bit. I’m just now feeling the writing mojo coming back, and I think that is directly related to not being an introvert.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can see it would be just as tough to be without contacts with friends that are an important part of your day. Probably worse than an introvert having to tough it out through a cocktail party. The worst thing about this is no one knows exactly how long it’s going to last. Good to hear your writing mojo is coming back, Pete, and thanks for commenting!

      Like

  12. Here’s my experience / 5 cents’ worth / two-penneth-worth.
    In my working career with the UK version of the IRS, I tried to be affable and understanding to the public (the job was bad enough without causing frictions), when I was promoted to junior manager I tried to be helpful and sympathetic to my staff (see above) and diplomatic go-between with the senior managers, while trying not to strangle some of the divas both male and female of colleagues of equal grade.
    I was paid to do it, most of the time I kind of succeeded (even when I was giving up smoking)
    I reckoned I didn’t have to do it for free as well.
    Being introverted was therefore one of my relaxing hobbies.
    (And gets you lots of writing time)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, introverts who work with people (public, colleagues, managers, etc.) often feel pretty drained at the end of a working day. When we retire, we can be our introverted selves and rev up our creativity. Good hobby there, Roger!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Well said, Audrey. My father thought my introversion was strange, and I admit that I didn’t understand it and accept this until well into adulthood. My day job requires me to interact with people, and it’s been a struggle some days. I’ve often felt like the proverbial square peg trying to fit into the round whole, but as my retirement is only 6 weeks away, I see a very bright light at the end of the tunnel. Writing has always been my passion and my salvation in calming my mind after turbulent work days.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. -grin- Fun! Is it possible to be a hybrid? I have always loved my own company, but I also love to teach. One-on-one or in a classroom filled with lots of people [old and young], I seem to ‘come alive’. Maybe I’m just a natural born ham who went astray. ๐Ÿ™‚

    To the serious part of your post though, yes, I can see how real extroverts would find the current lockdowns very distressing. The best advice I’d give is to get online and spend time with people there. One way is by playing online games with others.

    I spend a couple of hours every evening, playing Elder Scrolls Online. It’s a game in which hundreds if not thousands of people can be ‘together’ via avatars. Not the same as the real thing, but you’d be surprised at how easy it is to suspend disbelief and feel ‘connected’.

    In the era of Covid-19 we may all have to learn to connect digitally. :/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think there’s a continuum between extroversion and introversion, so most folks are probably hybrids to some degree.
      I do best in situations where everyone’s role is defined or restricted, such as meetings. A teaching situation is like that too, and I imagine online gaming is as well. You’re “with” a lot of people, but alone in your personal space. But when it’s a free-floating crowd where the whole point is to connect or network, I’m outta there!
      I’m wondering if some workplaces will continue some degree of working from home or virtual meetings. I’ll bet a lot of parents would like that, especially once kids are back in school. Less need for expensive daycare and aggravating commutes. Not to mention less carbon being emitted.

      Like

  15. I’m thinking now the Other Side knows how it feels to be forced into living life in imitation. I always come to realize a bit late in a job how much I feel like a fish out of water because I would ultimately prefer to work and live away from the loudness of people…Not sure how sympathetic I feel right now… lucky (or cursed) enough to be in an essential job… and all those extroverts living my life (if you know what I mean!)

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I don’t know how I missed this post. I follow your blog but it hasn’t been showing up in my feed. I like your tips for extroverts but most of all I like your ruminations on being an introvert. I am one too. I find it amusing that the world finally approves of my hermit tendencies. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Wow!!!!! very well written! being an introvert myself i too think the same way. n i loved the photo u have attached to this post! ur list is quite funny too. and i agree with the fact that this pandemic has proven to be beneficial to introverts.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I loved it, thank you Audrey. I started off shouting to myself NOOOOOO and wondering how to calm down, then I realised how much I loved your sense of humour as well as some good tips.

    Like

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