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Stop Calling Yourself an Introvert

November 10, 2014

A few years ago, I was thrilled to learn that more people had started talking about introversion versus extraversion. More so, I was excited that many of the traits of introverts that were seen as weaknesses, were now being seen as strengths.

But like many wonderful things, the internet has ruined this conversation. Between all the lists of “21 things every introvert knows” and “how to interact with an introvert” (as though we’re all a bunch of strange and wild animals who might pounce if provoked) it has now become cool to be an introvert.

Let me be clear: not all of you are introverts.

Some people just aren’t fun to be around, whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert. Or perhaps you just don’t like the effort of being around people, when it’s so much easier to judge them silently and safely from behind a screen. That does not make you an introvert.

Not wanting to hang out with people 24/7 does not make you an introvert.

Enjoying Netflix for 7 hours at a time does not make you an introvert.

Finding humor in jokes about not liking people, does not make you an introvert.

This is not the first time that people have used a trendy “diagnosis” to make excuses for their behavior. We can look squarely at people who diagnose themselves with ADD or ADHD despite never having talked to a doctor about it. For several years now, every time a person gets bored easily or doesn’t like to sit still for more than a few minutes, they call themselves ADD.

But is ADD among adults really that common? Is every fast-talking girl with four shots of sugar-laden espresso drinks ADD, or are they just hyped up on the attention they receive by jokingly saying they’re ADD? Is every guy who likes to keep moving rather than listen to a conversation about draperies ADHD, or does he just like to get up and do stuff? Or perhaps we all just bounce from one entertainment to another so quickly, we’ve lost our ability to pay attention to things for more than 6 seconds.

I think you get my point. Every few years it seems we latch on to a new way to explain ourselves and explain why we are the way we are. Everybody wants everyone to understand them, and the easiest way to do it is with simple labels. That person is an introverted vegan who gave up gluten, and who took a quiz to learn that they’re Sleeping Beauty, but would be sorted into Hufflepuff and they also like dogs, but not as much as they LOVE hedgehogs because they’re their spirit animal according to this book.

And let’s not forget the people who want all of you to know that their job is HARD even though it may look easy. So they posted 17 articles about why you should all understand that their situation is as meaningful and hard as your situation (but not as hard as this other person who is raising money for this bad thing…).

Here’s the thing: it’s ok if the whole world doesn’t know or understand you, as long as those closest to you know. It’s ok if you don’t fit nicely into convenient categories. It’s ok if you’re an introvert, an extrovert, or something more in the middle. Because we all have times when we don’t want to be around people, and we all have times when we do want to be around people. There’s more to it than just how you feel about people, and whether you want to go to every single event you’re invited to.

Being an introvert is not just about disliking small talk and feeling drained around people. A lot of people hate small talk and chit chat. You know why? Because it’s small talk. It is designed to simply take up time until we can move on to bigger and better things. I have never, in my entire life, met someone who enjoyed small talk. It’s just a social norm and something polite people do to show they’re polite. Disliking chit chat does not prove you’re an introvert. It proves you don’t like wasting time on a conversation that serves no purpose.

Ranting about introverts and extraverts probably seems silly. Who cares if a person says they’re an introvert or an extravert? Well, I care. For the same reason I care when people use the word “literally” incorrectly. When the true definition of something becomes muddled, it loses meaning even when it’s used correctly. Understanding whether someone is an introvert or extravert (or more in the middle) can have a lot of impact on everyday life, in business, or in whether or not you should invite 50 people to the hospital room just a few hours after they’ve given birth.

It’s not just about a convenient label, and for the billionth time, it’s about more than just wanting to go to a party or not.

So please, for the love of all that is right in this world, stop calling yourself an introvert just because you once declined an invitation and get annoyed by the crowds at WalMart. Stop calling yourself an introvert because it’s the trendy thing to do right now. And if you’re an extravert, wave your extraverted flag high and in the face of introverts so that they’ll have an excuse to go home and take a nap.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Laura McClellan permalink
    November 10, 2014 1:36 pm

    Yes, girl. Also to the ADD thing. Drives me crazy. YOU ARE NOT ALL ADD.

  2. November 10, 2014 2:52 pm

    Yup – and how about OCD? You can be organized and tidy and not have a diagnosis.

    • dtdorrin permalink*
      November 10, 2014 3:58 pm

      Amen to that. I debated between pointing out fake ADD people, and fake OCD people.

  3. dawnomite permalink
    December 8, 2014 4:26 pm

    Yay! Introverts have definitely been having their “moment in the sun” lately, eh? I think what I like least about all this talk of it is how introversion is pitted against extroversion as though one camp is better than the other. I’m an extrovert (who hates small talk, natch) who’s felt kinda beat up lately by all the introvert discussion, because we extroverts are painted as boorish, obnoxious loudmouths. One post I read even categorized introverts as the “readers” of the party and the extroverts the “reality tv lovers”! Geez, I’m friendly – I guess that makes me a moron. 😉

    I couldn’t agree more with your point that labels do not excuse our bad behavior.

  4. dawnomite permalink
    December 8, 2014 4:28 pm

    (I should also go on record as saying I personally like a lot of reality tv AND reading.)

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