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Artist, David Shrigley

(Setting: The Cerebrum Lounge)

Inner I: Well. You must be very pleased with yourself.

Inner E: What? Hang on, I love this song…Mum mum mum mah! P-p-p-poker face!

Inner I: You know very well what I’m talking about. This blog we started – introvertini.

Inner E: Blog? Oh yes. Great social medium. Carry on! Mum mum mum mah….

Inner I: That’s just it. You know I’m not social. You’re the social one. I’m an introvert.

Inner E: Oh look, it’s Pat and Edie!  Get over here, you two!

Inner I: You’re not listening.

Inner E: I’m all ears. You’re insecure.

Inner I: Not insecure. Introvert.

Inner E: Insecure, introvert. Same thing. Isn’t Edie a doll?

Inner I: She’s a pip. And no, it’s not the same thing.

Inner E: So what’s the problem?

Inner I: The problem is there’s this blog that needs writing.

Inner E: And….? (Turning aside) Waiter! More shrimp over here!

Inner I: And now you seem to be preoccupied so I’ll have to do it.

Inner E: So do it.

Inner I: (Scuffling feet and looking down) Dmntwnaa…

Inner E: What?

Inner I:  I said I don’t wanna.

Inner E: And why in the world not?

Inner I: Not sociable. Don’t feel like talking.

Inner E: Oh for heaven’s sake. I’ll never understand you.

Inner I: Duh.

Inner E: Anyway, wasn’t this whole thing your idea? What do I know from introvert? I’m an extravert.

Inner I: That’s beside the point.

Inner E: Not really.

Inner I: Fine.  I’ll do it later. Right now, I just need some time to myself.

Inner E: You’re weird. Everyone thinks so.

Inner I: Not everyone.

Inner E: At least 75% of the people I know.

Inner I: You said everyone.


NEXT:  you call it 75%, I call it the lower three quartiles.

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.

So glad you came. Let me take your coat. Get you a drink. Bend your ear.

This is a place to celebrate, share, and shed some light on the life introverted. And pal, the world has plenty of misconceptions about introverts. Eighty-seven out of 100 people think introverts are shy (according to research conducted in my mind). Even Webster’s defines introvert as “a shy or reserved person.” But introversion and shyness aren’t synonymous. Robin Williams is an introvert. So is Eddie Murphy.  I’ll even go out on a limb here with Dennis Rodman.

Introverts are not by definition unhappy. We laugh, sing, and sometimes hide rotting shrimp shells in a co-worker’s drop-ceiling for the sheer hell of it. Neither are we mentally ill for the most part, if that’s what you’re thinking.

But shy or unshy, sane or insane, there’s one thing all introverts have in common:

People suck the life out of us

Now let me freshen your drink and explain.

Introverts can handle a reasonable amount of social interaction, but we seldom go the distance of the more outgoing extravert*. We don’t get energized by it. Quite the opposite, in fact. Our energy gets sucked dry.  And  extraverts do most of the sucking.

Extraverts are energized by people. They blithely exchange energy with other extraverts all the livelong day. We introverts rely on our own built-in generators to recharge. We do not – and cannot – draw energy from another person. We’re self-energizing. So when the two types hook up (nonsexually speaking), the extravert type powers up while the introvert type drains faster than a junkyard battery. Ross Perot was wrong. That giant sucking sound you hear isn’t NAFTA siphoning jobs out of the country. It’s introverts getting space bagged**. 

A lot of people may find this premise objectionable. Extraverted people, mostly. But that’s a lot. In fact, extraverts comprise up to 75% of humans on the planet. The reason most people think there’s something wrong with introverts is

because most people aren’t introverts.

Ergo this blog. Nothing against extraverts. Some of my best friends are, etc., etc. But in a world full of hail-fellows-well-met, the self-contained people-shunners need to get together once in a while and have a party. A wild, crazy, uninhibited Web bash where no one’s energy gets sucked and all interaction is optional. No introverts will be harmed in the making of this blog. Andy Warhol once said he’d like to sit home and watch every party that he was invited to on a monitor in his bedroom. If you can relate, you’re probably an introvert. Also, by now, any extravert would be off networking, rubbing shoulders and playing team sports.

So take heart, dear reader. If your life force has been depleted after providing the world its daily supply of energy, you’re among kindred spirits.

It’s a wonder there’s enough strength left to blog about it.

Cheers!


*unless there’s gin involved

**www.spacebag.com