No one chooses to be an introvert.
Standing in the corner of a party, too nervous to talk to anyone you don’t know, is an awful feeling. You are trapped between your obligation to be social and the fear of embarrassing yourself in front of a crowd. From this vantage point, you can see everything going on. You can see people smiling, laughing — even joking with people they barely know.
All you can see is a wall of turned backs.
Introverts rarely enjoy events like these. This is why we will always prefer to socialize in bars rather than crowded clubs or parties. There is a sense of freedom when you can sit down with people you genuinely like and have an interesting conversation, rather than pretending to laugh at a joke you can barely hear.
This is why introverts often are perceived to be boring. However, in reality, we just don’t like feigning enjoyment for an activity that we dislike. Indeed, some people even think that we choose to be quiet and there somewhere deep inside of us, is an extrovert ready to jump out.
Introverts aren’t necessarily quiet
Like most introverts, I hate small talk.
Many people have a strange fondness for small talk with natural silences in conversation normally perceived to be awkward and uncomfortable. I can never fathom why people can’t seem to endure the quiet, whenever there’s a natural lull in a conversation. Indeed, this is probably the greatest difference between an extrovert and an introvert.
So many introverts normally just speak up when we can actually add something meaningful to the conversation. Small talk is often meaningless and a waste of words. Psychologist Laurie Helgoe accurately describes this phenomenon:
“Introverts do not hate small talk because we dislike people. We hate small talk because we hate the barrier it creates between people.”
However, introverts can enjoy meaningful conversations and be as chatty as anyone else when talking about the right topic. But the value of a conversation shouldn’t just be an exercise for moving your lips, but should actually mean something.
So, it should be easy for everyone to have an interesting, engaging, or funny conversation with an introvert.
Finding an introvert in a crowded room
Just like other personality traits, being shy is a natural affliction that clings to you from a young age and it almost impossible to shake off.
There may be days when you can force yourself to be a bit louder, more confident, or even become the center of attention for a while, but this will always feel unnatural.
“Why don’t you just speak up?”
Indeed, that is the single difference between an extrovert and an introvert. An extrovert loves attention, while an introvert would shy away from it.
Clearly, everyone is different and people are comfortable in different settings. So often someone might be considerably more shy among a group of strangers, and then open up when talking to friends. On the other hand, there are extroverts who relish talking to new people but might have a fear of public speaking.
Stop trying to be someone else
It is very easy to pretend to be someone your not. Social media is so ingrained into society, that we are constantly bombarded by false concepts of what a perfect life looks like.
Whenever you watch celebrity interviews, you only hear tales of crazy adventures, rather than a recital of a fairly ordinary lifestyle.
So, when we are surrounded by extroverted people showing off their exuberance, it’s easy to fall into the trap where you question your own lifestyle. You’d love nothing better to be the center of attention, even though this would only bring you no happiness.
The truth is that regardless of who you are, whether you live in a mansion in the Hamptons or a cramped apartment block, it is impossible to understand others unless you live in their shoes.