Realising you’re an introvert can change your entire life. How one can even suppress such a thing – yes, that might sound slightly odd. As mentioned in an earlier post I reached a turning point in my life when I realised I was an introvert!
Now it seems it’s become somewhat of a trend “coming out” as an introvert, but it can’t be helped I got this insight in the middle of this trend.
I’d hate to be trendy, but alas, here we are.
Sometimes you’re not even aware you have a closet to step out of…
The year I reached my insight was 2018 and without exaggeration, it was, as previously stated, a huge thing for me when I finally understood there wasn’t really something wrong with me (which I had thought for years!), but I was “just” an introvert. The end.
Well, I was also suffering from a drawn-out on-the-border of burnout, which I had been struggling with since 2012 (when my panic attacks started visiting me for lunch on a regular basis), so there was actually something more wrong with me… But still…
Suddenly I understood why I had been walking like a lemming straight out the burnout cliff!
I felt pleased with having found the “problem”, that had been gnawing at me, so I more than happily shared my insight to everyone and anyone. The people around me however seemed to have a different opinion. Go figure!
They told me I was wrong!
They seemed to think they actually knew me better than I knew myself! This happens to me all the time, honestly! Thus they explained to me I was wrong – I wasn’t introverted! Not at all! Some of them laughed hysterically at me. “No, you are not an introvert!”
Eh, well, yes I am…?
I didn’t really understand the response I got when I pronounced the words “I’m an introvert”. It’s estimated that about 25-40% of the people on Earth are introverts, so why couldn’t I be an introvert? Why was it so unlikely I was an introvert? It’s not exactly like an introvert is as rare a being as a unicorn… I felt very confused.
It turned out the answer was pretty simple, after all. There’s this stereotype, a mold for how we introverts “are supposed” to be and how we “are supposed” to behave. Yet today 2019 there’s a stereotype, and in people’s eyes I didn’t really fit in.
Maybe I talked too much, was too extroverted at my previous work, or too unafraid to voice my opinions – I don’t really know if I’m to be perfectly honest.
Could it be as simple as they actually had no idea who I really was…?
I would like to take the time to point out that the INFJ – which is me – is a personality type often mistaken to be an extrovert. It becomes even more tricky when I feel comfortable around someone because let me tell you when I do – there’s nothing introverted about me! EXCEPT that I quickly get drained and need my solitude to charge my batteries! It’s problematic for me to socialise with several people at the same time since I get drained. Insanely drained. One-on-one is what works best for me.
The stereotypical introverted person – what’s it like?
Well he/she is antisocial, shy, odd, boring, insecure, arrogant, and probably has both 1 or maybe even 20 diagnoses (no offense!). Don’t forget: awful social misfits and if you’re trying to have a conversation with one of these you probably only end up with a grunt, hence the reason people believe the introverted personality is so much rarer than it really is.
So without any exaggerations, you could say the introverted person is a somewhat odd, strange person, and some kind of worse copy of the extroverted human being, which without a doubt is the “normal” person and the ideal to strive for.
Then when I “came out” with my introversion – it didn’t really turn out the way I had hoped. I had thought that most of my friends and coworkers actually would feel like me: finally, it was clear.
Suddenly they would understand me, but oh no…
Instead, I got random opinions, views (that no one had even asked for! and random diagnoses:
“No, but you’re not introverted!”
(as if the person in question knew me better than I know myself!)
“No, of course, you’re not – you’re normal!”
(as if it would be abnormal to be an introvert. It’s not, it’s just the opposite of an extrovert, which also is quite normal.)
“Why should you be? You’re probably just not yourself at the moment.”
(as if everybody were extroverts, but temporarily during periods you catch introversion, like the flu.)
“Oh, yes, but well you’re not THAT introvert!”
(some thought I might just be a little bit introverted. Does that mean I’m almost normal or how does it work again?)
No, not a condition, just an introvert…
Now I understand myself and have stopped trying to play this extroverted part, an effort that was only draining me, an effort that actually made me sick. Coming out I had all kinds of diagnoses put on me, including ADD, but I don’t need a diagnosis.
There’s actually nothing wrong with me!
People’s eagerness to put a diagnosis on me instead of accepting that I’m simply an introvert frightened me slightly since it’s so easy today to get a diagnose stamp on your forehead. What if all of these diagnoses are wrong and the person in question is simply an introvert?
The Swedish author Linus Jonkman writes in his book “Introvert – the Quiet Revolution” that on the far end on the extrovert scale you find ADHD and on the far end on the introvert scale you find Autism.
That sounded pretty logical, in my mind. I do hope there’s more to a real condition or diagnosis. I’m 99% introverted but am not suffering from Autism, so hopefully, the ones suffering from this won’t just get their diagnosis simply because they’re introverts.
Coming out was no hit…
Coming out with my personality type was neither pleasant nor liberating, but instead simply created more anxiety. It did however make me understand why I, as a child and more easily influenced, eagerly wanted to suppress my inner me.
It became extremely clear why I already during my childhood had squeezed myself into this extroverted mold like it was the universal personality type everybody should strive for.
As mentioned before I was pretty eager in sharing the news in the beginning, but this faded pretty quickly.
Someone to copy?
Michaela Chung, blogging on Introvertspring, claims the ones that don’t understand simply just lack information and she gathers both patience and time to explain. Every time. I don’t know if I have that kind of patience, instead, I’m withdrawing in my shell, stop talking about it. Maybe I have something to learn from her…
But if I’m to learn patience I want to ask something from all of you. The next time you hear someone cautiously expressing they believe they’re an introvert, don’t try and “solve any problems” for this person.
Introversion is not a problem, nothing needing to be fixed…
It’s hard enough being an introvert in this extroverted world, don’t make it harder…
Are you an introvert? Have you always known? How do you as an introvert feel your people are dealing with your introversion? Please leave a comment!