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Intro to Introversion
March 7, 2004 — 2:43 am

I’m an introvert. I’ve spent about 10 cumulative minutes out of the last 48 hours speaking to other people (about five of those minutes were a phone call from Justin). For years, Justin could rarely bring himself to see a movie on his own. I, on the other hand, have been going to movies alone since I was 14 years old. And, later, concerts. And restaurants. I go with other people when circumstances permit, but if I restricted myself to going out only with other people, I’d probably do less than one percent of the stuff I do now. I’ve never gone bowling alone, but that might just be becuase I’ve never really dug bowling. And I’ve consistently tested as an INTP in the dozen or so times I’ve taken versions of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator test in the past 15 years, whether or not this actually indicates much of practical value.

I’ve briefly written about one of my introverted tendencies: “It always seems to me like I’m more involved in conversations than I really am, actively caught up in the flow of what others are saying, only realizing later that I didn’t contribute much in the way of real, actual words to the discussion.” In fact, I’m the type of person who takes books to parties where I don’t know many of the other guests, prepared for the entirely real possibility that I’ll spend long stretches of time disengaged from conversation entirely.

Jonathan Rauch, introvert extraordinaire, has provided a glimpse into some of the whys and wherefores of introversion, including Sartre’s quip that “Hell is other people at breakfast.” I particularly dig this observation that, try as they might, extroverts just don’t get introverts:

Extroverts are easy for introverts to understand, because extroverts spend so much of their time working out who they are in voluble, and frequently inescapable, interaction with other people. They are as inscrutable as puppy dogs. But the street does not run both ways. Extroverts have little or no grasp of introversion. They assume that company, especially their own, is always welcome. They cannot imagine why someone would need to be alone; indeed, they often take umbrage at the suggestion. As often as I have tried to explain the matter to extroverts, I have never sensed that any of them really understood. They listen for a moment and then go back to barking and yipping.

Not to mention the bit about how “many actors, I’ve read, are introverts, and many introverts, when socializing, feel like actors”. This rings true to me. If I appear to be at ease in a group of strangers, it’s likely because I’m pretending . . .

(Via Tim Lee.)

— Eric D. DixonComments (0)

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Eric D. Dixon

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