|Imagine what life would be like if we could see each other's souls|
instead of what's on the outside.
Introverts are very often much misunderstood in today's extroverted world.
The image reminded me an article I've been meaning to share with you for several weeks now but for whatever reason have not yet gotten around to sharing: "Caring for Your Introvert: The habits and needs of a little understood group."
Written for The Atlantic by Jonathan Raunch, the article describes the differences between the orientations of extroverts and introverts from an introvert's perspective, with the witty humor customary among introverts.
Reading the article it almost seems as Raunch has followed me around for a couple of days taking tedious notes. He begins asking a series of questions:
Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accosted with pleasantries by people who are just trying to be nice?
If so, do you tell this person he is "too serious," or ask if he is okay? Regard him as aloof, arrogant, rude? Redouble your efforts to draw him out?
If you answered yes to these questions, chances are that you have an introvert on your hands—and that you aren't caring for him properly.I don't do a lot of growling or grunting - at least not audibly - but otherwise the questions are straight to the point. I hate small talk and do need to time alone to recover from "public" activity, which is what I'll largely be doing the first part of this morning.
If you find yourself with such a person, an introvert, what are you to do with them? How should care for him?
Before answering this question, Raunch describes introversion at its most basic level:
Introverts are not necessarily shy. Shy people are anxious or frightened or self-excoriating in social settings; introverts generally are not. Introverts are also not misanthropic, though some of us do go along with Sartre as far as to say "Hell is other people at breakfast." Rather, introverts are people who find other people tiring.
Extroverts are energized by people, and wilt or fade when alone. They often seem bored by themselves, in both senses of the expression. Leave an extrovert alone for two minutes and he will reach for his cell phone. In contrast, after an hour or two of being socially "on," we introverts need to turn off and recharge. My own formula is roughly two hours alone for every hour of socializing. This isn't antisocial. It isn't a sign of depression. It does not call for medication. For introverts, to be alone with our thoughts is as restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating. Our motto: "I'm okay, you're okay—in small doses."How, then, do you care for your introvert? Raunch gives three simple ways:
First, recognize that it's not a choice. It's not a lifestyle. It's an orientation.
Second, when you see an introvert lost in thought, don't say "What's the matter?" or "Are you all right?"
Third, don't say anything else, either.Be sure to read the entire article; it is both insightful and humorous and may well help a few of you extroverts to understand us introverts a bit more. If you do read it, you may well understand why we sometimes want to say to you, "I'm an introvert. You are a wonderful person and I like you. But now please shush." We don't say this because society says it is rude.