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The Year of the Introvert

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Photo by Lenin Estrada on Unsplash

I'm an introvert. I have a strong dislike of having to talk to people I don't know. I hate parties with gusto. I detest even talking to people on the phone for any reason, and much prefer texting or writing. I have a strong aversion to going to new places, especially on my own.

Over the last couple of years, I've been working hard on those qualities. I tried leaving my comfort zone, going to classes or exhibits and even exploring London. And I enjoyed these activities. I loved my literature classes, and I loved having a place to sing. I loved going to exhibits and learning new things. I love meeting people, although I do try to limit speaking to a minimum. It makes me a good listener, apparently.

The reason I wanted to work on these qualities wasn't that I think there's something wrong with being an introvert. And even if I did, I don't believe that going to an exhibit is going to change the way my brain is wired. The reason I wanted to work on these qualities was that think that's how you grow: by dealing with the stuff you're least inclined to deal with. And I was least inclined to deal with my aversion to talking to people.

Extraversion has long been hailed as the extrovert-introvert continuum. It is often described as being friendly and having positive emotionality and high levels of energy. The "open office" concept is designed around extroverts and is probably introverts' worst nightmare. The idea that there's something wrong with you if you're not peppy and positive is widespread, especially in America where they tend to be peppier than, say, the Brits.

I don't subscribe to that. I love extroverts, don't get me wrong. I'm married to one, and usually have at least one geographically close friend who's an extrovert as I find they get me out of the house more. I don't think everyone should aim to be extroverts, however. First of all, that would be boring. Second, there's a certain tendency towards risk-taking and impulsivity that is also associated with extroverts, which I don't think is healthy for the human race. To put it bluntly, all the extroverts out there are probably alive because at some point they've met an introvert who said, wait, let's think this through.

All the social distancing and self-isolation are tough on extroverts, probably more than on introverts. For me, staying in and reading a book sounds like a dream. Same routine every day? Nothing to interrupt days on end of being at home? Not feeling like a bad mom if I'm not taking my kids to a show/exhibit/bike ride in the park? Sign me up. I'm not saying it's heaven for introverts. I miss seeing and hugging my friends, I miss going out to restaurants with my partner, and I miss the kids having school for six whole hours every day (although not the dropping off and picking up when you have to chat with the other parents about absolutely nothing). I even miss going to explore exhibits and random neighbourhoods in London.

So, my introverts friends, this is our time. Find your nearest extrovert and ask them how they're doing. They're probably not great. Talk to them on the phone or text them to see if they need anything. Don't judge them when they tell you they've had five walks with the neighbour's dog today. Maybe even go visit them and have a conversation through the window or from a safe distance, if it's safe for you to do that. Then you can go back home and read a book.


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