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Not Ashamed: Introvert

If you haven't already, please read the introduction post. That will give you context for this page.

Being an introvert is a topic I could take a lot of ways. But one way I'm definitely going to approach it is to cram in a lot of pictures that don't necessarily have anything to do with the surrounding text of this post, aside from all of it being about introverts.

I could try to be one more voice explaining what it means to be an introvert. Because, in spite of the glut of pages doing that, people keep telling me I'm not an introvert because I'm not shy or because I can get up and address or entertain a group. But, listen, there's a glut of pages. Educate yourself. This is a topic where it's really, really easy.

Fictional map of an introvert brain

I could try to explain to you that introverts are worthwhile humans as well. But, again, there's a glut of pages (and some books...oh, and Ted Talks for those of you who prefer to listen rather than to read). And, even worse, I keep running into this thing where it's implied that maybe it's the extraverts who aren't worthwhile humans. Which just makes me shake my head because, for those of you who are new to me, I believe all people have equal great intrinsic worth. So, honestly, all I have to say on that topic that might not be on the pages you can find for yourself is that neither introverts nor extraverts are inherently better. Each kind of person, or, rather, each stop on the spectrum of introversion/extraversion, has both useful traits and traits those on the other end might consider problematic. No need for war, kids.

But with all the articles you can find out there now on introverts, I still find people who treat it like a shameful thing.

I don't want to be alone. I want to be left alone. -Audrey Hepburn

I am not ashamed that I need (aye, need) solitude. That being around other humans wears me out. It can be a nuisance, that latter bit...though I revel in the solitude. But great thoughts and works of art and acts of self-discovery can come when one is alone with oneself.

I am not ashamed to be exuberantly content with, (nay, to prefer) a few close friends rather than hoards of not-very-close friends. I can enjoy some moments with those who aren't close friends in spite of that and don't understand why people feel the need to all be counted as my Super Awesomest Friends!

I am not ashamed of finding small talk painful. I can do small talk; I don't enjoy it. Why this point comes up as a thing that I should feel bad about confuses me. Hey, let's talk about my introversion instead. Y'know, since you've already gone there. Now we're beyond that small talk some of you find so sacred and into my territory of something a little meatier.

Introverts hate surprise parties

If I just google "traits of introverts" and scroll through the list on the first article or two, I see nothing there to be ashamed of. Sure, last I heard, people on the introvert side of the spectrum are outnumbered by those on the extravert side. And, yes, I'm waaaaaaaay over on the introvert side. (When I take personality assessments, I'm 90-100% over on that side.) So, yeah, that means I'm not within the mathematical norm of humanity. But anyone who knows me knows that I laugh at the idea of being ashamed of being outside (or inside, for that matter) the norm.

I do feel bad that extraverts and less introverted people get sad over my lack of social engagement. I don't like to make people feel sad.

But I like myself enough to consider my own health. I've made the mistake previously in life of trying to spare people the pain that is apparently associated with not getting enough social time with me...and, wow, was that a massive harm done to myself.

Picture of a cat. Text: How was your weekend? Great. I didn't see anyone for two days.

Actually, considering some of the traits of how my autism manifests, I'm not just not ashamed to be an introvert; I'm thrilled to be one. The introversion wants many things that are also kind to the autism. I can only imagine, for instance, the troubles in my head if I had my overwhelm and overstimulation issues but were also an extravert who needed all that human interaction. (Even typing that has made me cringe. Don't worry, me, we're good as-is.)

I suspect that the upset at my not wanting the same amount of interaction and that old incorrect beliefs in introversion being the same as shyness are at the root of people considering my massive introversion a shameful thing. (Though, shout out to you shy kids. Yes, it can make life tough sometimes when you're shy. But I see no reason you ought to feel ashamed of being shy.) Neither of those motivates shame in me. Nope.

Girl says "I'd love to hang out, but I have to go sit in my house by myself..."

If you can stand the time alone with yourself to consider it (and I'm not being facetious; i read and hear that extraverts don't love to be alone with their thoughts), I'd suggest that maybe, rather than spending time thinking about how I should feel bad for being an introvert, you might explore what in you makes you think that. Or at least google information and educate yourself about the power and awesomeness of introverts. We're just as awesome as you, even if we're quietly awesome. Ha!

Post card that says "Introvert Problems: I'd love to hang out with you, but I need to be alone today. If I have any social interaction in the next 24 hours, someone will die."

Before I go, there is one more thing I'd really like to address. There's this idea out there that, if I tried, I could somehow cure myself of introversion. Now, I will absolutely agree that, with practice, one can get more adept at social situations. But this idea of curing myself of introversion ignores that, to say it once again, introversion is not the same as shyness (or social anxiety, which is also not necessarily easy to "cure"). It also ignores studies that have been done that show that the brains and nervous systems of introverts aren't different to those of extraverts. Yes, science has shown that this isn't just me having an attitude problem or needing to try harder. (I looked for the original essay I read about this, and the best I could do is this one or this one, especially if you scroll a bit to the Neural Clues section.) In this case, the graphic that follows is totally relevant:

introvert vs extravert brains (processing routes)

I won't be cured. And, honestly, I am entirely good with that. It's not a disease, it's no more problematic than extraversion, and I'm so very not ashamed.

Introverts Unite! Separately. In Your Own Homes.