I like to save any links or references I come across on the subject of introverts, since that’s what we are. Introverts have sort of “come into” their own during the pandemic lockdowns, since suddenly everyone wanted to know what it is they do all day.
In fact, the pandemic highlighted introverts as no other incident has ever done.
Extroverts have had it tough over the last year, no mistake. “Before the pandemic, I would spend a couple of hours at home, and then I would just get bored and want to go walk around or sit at the coffee shop or see if a friend wanted to get a drink,” noted one extrovert in an interview. “It would just start to psychologically wear on me if I was alone for too long.” The lockdowns made this woman realize “I’m even more of an extrovert than I originally thought.”
But introverts and lockdowns? They go together like bacon and eggs.
In one piece on What Introverts Wished Extroverts Would Understand, one respondent wrote, “I live alone on a farm. I don’t go out to the local bars. I don’t try to date any locals. Some weeks I don’t ever leave the property. And people always ask me how I can stand to live in the middle of nowhere. Well [bleep], that’s the easy part.”
When Don and I first got married in 1990, I was working a corporate job. Fortunately our office was small and the situation was fine for introverts, but once or twice a year I was required to attend a conference and “network” (that was the buzzword at the time). Don actually had to rehearse me on how to “work” a room full of strangers, because my first inclination would be to retreat into a corner and simply observe.
I’ve come a long way since then, but make no mistake, that’s still my first inclination. It’s every introvert’s first inclination, no matter how much they train or rehearse to overcome it. This is not an issue of shyness – I’m not the least bit shy – but of preference. Introverts simply aren’t built for socialization on a loud or large scale.
Introverts, as it turns out, are likely to be less politically active, less active on social media, and less likely to be corporate leaders. As one (introverted) psychologist concluded, “This state of affairs leaves many of the decisions relating to the daily life of introverts in the hands of the extroverts.”
This psychologist also noted, “Introversion is not something to be fixed – but a blessed source of human diversity.” In a world built for and by extroverts, introverts bring their own set of strengths to the table.
Yet, through it all, introversion is still seen as something that must be “fixed” for the happiness and well-being of those poor misguided introverts. In a 2019 University of California study, 123 people were tasked with acting like extroverts for a week. Participants were “asked to be talkative, assertive and spontaneous in their daily interactions with other people.” The following week, the same group was asked to act like introverts.
The findings, apparently, were “remarkable”: “‘It was the biggest effect we’ve ever found in any of our studies,” says Dr Sonja Lyubomirsky, the lead researcher. ‘When people acted extrovert, they experienced more positive emotions and satisfaction. When they acted introvert, they experienced fewer positive emotions.’ She speculates that this is because, at heart, humans are social creatures. ‘Social relationships are inherently rewarding for us. We have a need to belong and to connect with each other.’”
In other words, introverts would be happier if they’d just, you know, stop being introverts. Got it.
Personally I’m more inclined toward this article: “Acting Like an Extrovert Has Benefits, but Not for Introverts” which quoted a team of researchers led by the psychologist Rowan Jacques-Hamilton at the University of Melbourne: “Until we have a well-rounded understanding of both the positive and negative consequences of extroverted behavior, advocating any real-world applications of acting extroverted could be premature and potentially hazardous.”
Rock on, Dr. Jacques-Hamilton.
The reason I decided to post about introverts today is because I just saw a funny anecdote about someone who was unaware of the whole pandemic:
Talk about the ultimate introvert! Whoever this guy is, he’s my new hero. I, too, look forward to the day when I can go months without leaving the homestead and be blissfully clueless about whether or not there’s even a pandemic.
Now excuse me, it’s time to go get some oats.
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