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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Gratitude for the Extroverts

It's true - this page has virtually nothing to do with this post. But you can click on the image and read it if you'd like.

Perhaps you've been vacationing on Uranus and thus have missed the celebration of the introvert that has been trending, as they say, on the interwebs. A couple of new books on the topic of introversion -- what it is, how it's valuable -- have brought us out of the closet in droves. And now we all know more about introverts than we ever dreamed, but if you're just catching up here's the shorthand:

1. We introverts expend a lot of energy when we're around groups of people, and need to recoup afterward. Quietly. By ourselves.
2. We're not necessarily shy, we just like a lot of alone-ish time.
3. The very idea of piles of social plans can set us to swooning.
4. Staying home almost always sounds better than socializing, even when the people we plan to socialize with are dear friends.

Honestly, the consciousness-raising around introversion has been great because, as one friend noted, "I'm so glad to know it's a thing." And it's given me a quick bridge to others like me, because now that it's a thing it's also a thing we have in common, and can laugh about. There are people who know exactly what I mean when I say, "I have THREE SCHEDULED EVENTS this weekend." They're already feeling fatigued on my behalf.

Yes, I'm grateful for what I'm sure some of you will regard by now as the endless onslaught of love-an-introvert messages; frankly, we were due.

On the other hand, I want to carve out space here to say how especially grateful I am for the extroverts in my life. Without the extroverts I might be some 21st century middle-aged-woman Salinger imitator.

My dearly beloved extrovert friends and relatives inspire me. They inspire me to go beyond my apprehension and/or terror, and imagine the idea of a new social experience as having possible positive outcomes. They're good at leashing up my inner extrovert and forcing it out for a constitutional now and then. On these occasions, I breathe the fresh air of human interaction and remember that this, too, is good, even though it's good in a different way from snuggling on the couch with my dog.

And, perhaps best of all, on the rare occasion when I want to actually host a party or event, the extroverts sincerely do not mind showing up. Some of us introverts actually feel guilty when we extend invitations to other introverts, knowing that at least part of them will regard the gathering as emotionally burdensome. We have no such worries with our extrovert friends, who, as I understand it, do not start planning their escape even as they pull up to the party house. (What must that be like ...?)

So yes, extroverted friend, daughter, husband ... Your kind have ruled the world for most of history. After this brief pop-culture flirtation with introversion has passed, you will likely continue to do so. That's OK with me. Just two requests: First, please don't take it personally if I turn down your invitation to go out and do something. But second, keep inviting me anyway. Cleary, I need you.

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