Taking care of your introvert

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I have this strange quirk. On the rare, “unicorn farting rainbows” occasion when I do reveal something private about myself, you won’t hear from me again for a while. I’ll go MIA. Don’t call me, don’t come over. Don’t send a St. Bernard to look for me in the Swiss Alps. I won’t want to talk to you again for a while. That is, I’ll happily engage in some harmless small talk with you, but if you dare broach the subject in which I temporarily bore my soul to you, and I will fake a severe (alcohol-induced, head trauma-induced, sniffing-too-much-of-that-new-bathroom-cleaner-I-bought-because-I-don’t-have-a-window-in-my-bathroom induced) case of amnesia.

Because I’m an introvert with marginal extroversion tendencies, which means I generally prefer to keep things to myself, with only occasional drunk calls in the middle of the night to tell you that I love you. Some people just don’t like this about me, and to those people I say, Tough. If you want to freely tell me everything about you from what you ate for breakfast to your deliciously embarrassing secrets, that’s your prerogative. It doesn’t mean I should be expected to do the same. It’s just who I am.

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So for those of you who have an introvert in your life, don’t fret. Here are some tips on how to understand us (please read carefully, because I didn’t write “change us”):

  • Don’t put us on the spot or force us to make snap decisions (especially in front of other people – in class, meetings at work, etc.). We prefer having time to gather our thoughts and thoroughly think things through. If you want a well-informed response or quality work you’ll get it – just give us some time.
  • We generally don’t like last-minute changes to our plans; we are very methodical and like to follow a certain schedule. If you’re going to cancel an outing with us or need us to get something done before a deadline, give us a sufficient heads-up.
  • Remember that when it comes to face-to-face interaction, not all of us (or people in general for that matter) are born conversationalists. Don’t mistake this for shyness or aloofness, however. In most cases, we are likely much more adept at expressing ourselves in writing or other creative forms.
  • Being around people for too long can be exhausting for us (especially when it comes to boisterous get-togethers). That means that many of us will purposely seek out solitude. This doesn’t mean that we don’t enjoy your company – we simply prefer it in moderation. Please, respect our need for privacy and alone time.
  • Quiet ≠ Antisocial
  • Like most people, we don’t really like to be interrupted when speaking. If you really need to say something, at least wait until we finish our thought.
  • Although it may seem like we’re not listening to you, chances are that we’re simply processing all that you’re saying. Be patient if you don’t get an immediate response. We may choose not to comment simply because at that moment, we really have nothing to say.
  • Most of us need our personal space, especially in the physical sense of the word. Invading the area where we spend our solo time or moving our things around can be really frustrating for us. Respect our boundaries.
  • Please, stop with the incessant, “What are you thinking/feeling?” or “Are you okay? Is something wrong? Why are you so quiet?” Answer: 1) When we want to tell you, we will. 2) Yes 3) No 4) Because
  • Please, don’t tell us that we need to be more outgoing. Do we tell you to be less talkative?
  • Don’t judge us by the number of friends we keep. Quality means more to us than quantity.
  • Me: *sits down, opens book* (Translation: I’m reading, please do not disturb)
  • Extroverts: So, whatcha reading?
  • Me: A book *shows cover*
  • Extroverts: … What’s it about?
  • Me: *sighs* Not sure, just started it.
  • Extoverts: ….oh. So guess what I did last night?
  • Me: *examines edges of book* (To myself: I wonder if this book is heavy enough to knock someone unconscious)
  • We like to go out, just not all the time. That means that a) we’ll save you money if you date us and b) you’ll have our complete, undivided attention, you lucky person you.
  • Walking into a room that is filled with people is a little intimidating for us. That’s why we like to arrive early to parties, clubs, bars, or restaurants. This way, we can pick the best seat from which to people-watch, which we love to do (and we don’t mean in a creepy stalker way).
  • We have a “thinking” face, which is sometimes mistaken for our “bored face” or our “what-you-just-said-was-so-dumb face”.

  • Food for thought! Here are just a few examples of some well-known introverts: Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Charles Darwin, Mother Teresa, Steve Martin, Katherine Hepburn, and Carl Jung.

Insightfully yours,

Queen D