Outing Myself

I’ve discovered my true identity, at last.

With their endless appetite for talk and attention, extroverts also dominate social life, so they tend to set expectations. In our extrovertist society, being outgoing is considered normal and therefore desirable, a mark of happiness, confidence, leadership. Extroverts are seen as bighearted, vibrant, warm, empathic. “People person” is a compliment. Introverts are described with words like “guarded,” “loner,” “reserved,” “taciturn,” “self-contained,” “private”—narrow, ungenerous words, words that suggest emotional parsimony and smallness of personality. Female introverts, I suspect, must suffer especially. In certain circles, particularly in the Midwest, a man can still sometimes get away with being what they used to call a strong and silent type; introverted women, lacking that alternative, are even more likely than men to be perceived as timid, withdrawn, haughty.

Thanks to Betty, via Kevin Drum.

7 Replies to “Outing Myself”

  1. One of the worst combinations is introverted but socially outgoing. When I’m socially “on”, I tend to be very outgoing. I talk a lot. I engage people. Then I crash. I get panicky around people. Every words add to the anxiety. I have to go be alone. Or I just fade out. Become more and more quiet until I am completely silent and withdrawn. Alone in my own head, I suppose.

    It’s very difficult, in my experience, to find partners who are nurturing and understanding of crazy severe introversion.

  2. The thing I find interesting is that while in general I’m definitely introverted — to an extent I hadn’t realized until I started working at home and was shocked by how easily I could be by myself all day — is that I’m selectively extroverted. I’m sure people who see me in the classroom at professional conferences would be shocked to consider me introverted. But I get excited by ideas, so I switch gears in those situations. OTOH, I’ve discovered the hard way at conferences I definitely do need some “alone time” to recharge, otherwise I start feeling drained by the end of it.

  3. My wife and I both took the Myers-Briggs and I remember that we both were introverts–which I expected and she didn’t. But reading her whole profile was uncanny cause there is one particular combination that *seems* like an extrovert, but is really an introvert who can turn it on. (But then gets burned out and has to go away.) Which is really what you both described. But I don’t remember exactly what it was.

    What I’m finding is that I am *much* more willing to be outgoing when dressed–there’s a basic level of social anxiety that I am always fighting that dressing really allieviates, and I hadn’t really realized it was there until it was gone. Ordinarily I would just as soon hole up in my room.

  4. Sungo, I relate. For me, too, even if I don’t get anxious per se, I do find myself getting…what, overstimulated? Overwhelmed? –if I’m in a crowd of people for too long. I think that’s what makes an introvert an introvert, ultimately–what you do to “recharge.” If you find you get reenergized by “alone time” more than you do by other people, you’re an introvert. Which doesn’t mean that you don’t want to be around other people, or like other people–it’s just about how you process information, actually, I think.

  5. I’ve just come to a similar conclusion. I’m thinking that introversion (of the noticeable kind ) in women has actually been almost taboo till very recently. When you think about all the introvert-compatible “jobs” for men which have been consistently valorised throughout history ( knight on quest, thinker, hermit, artist, prophet, minstrel, warrior adventurer, explorer) and think of what has traditionally been available to women; witch/wise woman!!!!! For an introvert girl there aren’t many positive role models. The only option might seem to be becoming a man!! Especially for introvert daughter of an introvert mother faced with the unforgiving, unrelenting PRESENCE of their child ( as in “Eraserhead” or “The Hours”)and little or no possibility of “downtime” for recovery. For an introvert girl with introvert mother womanhood must look like complete nightmare!!

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