Introverts may not often go wild, but we will certainly throw you for a loop.


Think introverts are easy to spot? That shadowy figure lurking behind the potted palm might be an introvert. But then again, so might the crazy dancing fool wearing the Tiffany lampshade and/or bright orange birthday suit. Being the complex and outnumbered creatures we are, introverts find various ways to assimilate into extravert culture. Here are the author’s top three, from the ridiculous to the sublime:


1. booze

Alcohol is notorious for releasing inhibitions and misgivings – and when it comes to socializing, no one has more misgivings than introverts. But invitations must occasionally be accepted and parties attended. Miss Otis can’t always send her regrets, so Miss Otis has a nice fortifying cocktail instead – the results of which range from relaxed intermingling to extreme overmingling wherein Miss O finds herself under the table – and possibly the host – the morning after. It’s a curious and not entirely un-fun peek into the world of extraversion and can make the introvert invitee either wildly popular or permanently persona non grata – which then excuses her from all future invites. Brilliant.


2. mixed type

Most people are neither pure introvert nor pure extravert. (Most people simply aren’t pure anymore, but that’s another story.) According to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), an introversion score anywhere between 51-100% makes you officially an introvert or “I”; same goes for extraverts: if you’re 52% extravert, you’re still an extravert or “E”. Once in a blue moon, some character will score exactly 50-50; that type is designated “X” and all bets are off.

Mood and environment can also be variables, especially for those teetering between types. A person may be more introverted one day, less so the next. If you care to know your type, it’s best to take the test more than once to get an average over time. For instance, the MBTI says I am on average 80-90% introverted, which means I’m self-energized 80-90% of the time and energized by other humans 10-20% of the time, or about as often as Lindsay Lohan is sober.


3. persona

One of the more interesting defense mechanisms that introverts use to cope with life in an extraverted world is a carefully crafted alter ego called the persona. Some refer to this as extraverted introversion, but I find that misleading since the person is only feigning extraversion. This tool gets used at work a lot.

The persona is a very complicated thing. It’s not entirely authentic, as it doesn’t reveal the introvert’s true preference for solitude or need for quiet reflection or vulnerability to energy-sapping. In fact, it’s designed not to reveal those things. On the other hand, it’s not entirely fake, either. The introvert creates the persona drawing from his or her own real inner extravert as well as experiences with others, not unlike the way a child learns by watching adults.

It’s mostly like a really good actor playing a role. Meryl Streep IS Julia Child, the introvert IS the extravert. To do this, the introvert must put everything introverted on hold – reserve, quietness, observational skills, thinking before speaking – all go safely into the vault. In their places, the introvert must substitute interaction, moxie, even a certain brashness. Skin thickens into armor. Panache goes into play. At its finest, the persona is a true art form and a wonder to behold. No one would ever in a million years guess that the person is an introvert. The author personally holds Dennis Rodman as the all-time Master of the Persona, but there are many other I’s who often masquerade as E’s. Maybe you. Maybe me.

Does all this shape-shifting wear on the introvert? Yes. It’s exhausting. Just talking about it is exhausting. More exhausting than dropping all defenses and simply abiding, zen-like, the daily energy suck? Debatable. But let’s stop here and recharge for now. Talk amongst yourselves. Share your thoughts. Take a nap. Have a cocktail.

I know which way I’m leaning.

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