I’m Only Introverted On The Outside, Part 2

This is the second of a three post series in which I am attempting to explain the wonderful world of introversion.  Each of the posts can stand alone, but if you missed part one, you can go back and read it by clicking here.

This series is based on a reader’s request that I comment on the Huffington Post article, 23 Signs You’re Secretly An Introvert. The HuffPost article was based on Sophia Dembling’s book “The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World”. If you’re an introvert who doesn’t want to feel like you’re the only introvert in the world, or if you’re an extrovert who wants to relate to introverts better, take a look at this book.

If you’re just joining us, after reading the article, I placed each of the twenty-three signs in to one of three groups. The grouping was done based on my analysis of myself. Your personal analysis may yield a completed different grouping. We can all get along.  I placed the signs in one of the following groups:

  1. Signs that I see in myself that support a diagnosis of introvert
  2. Signs that I see in myself that I don’t believe necessarily point to introversion
  3. Signs that I do not see in myself

In the first post, we looked at the fifteen signs that fell in to group one.  Today we’re going to explore the other eight.

The Six Signs That I See in Myself that I Don’t Believe Necessarily Point to Introversion

  1. You go to parties – but not to meet people. A few years ago, a friend and I ran in the Music City Half Marathon. After the race, we joined our wives – one of whom was pregnant – for an afternoon enjoying Nashville (a great city!). We rode around in my friend’s minivan, wondering where the Vandy kids were partying. It has nothing to do with this point, but the visual of the four of us rolling up to a yard party and crawling out of the swagger wagon always makes me laugh.  Back on track, if you take the opposite of the writer’s point, would that mean that extroverts go to parties to meet people?  I don’t think that’s right. I’m not big in the party circuit, but I know most of the people at the parties that I attend. I guess the bigger question is, who goes to parties with people that you don’t know? I’ve heard of events like that, but they weren’t called parties.They were called speed-dating or an interview blitz.
  2. You’re easily distracted. I am easily distracted, but I don’t believe that’s unique to introverts. I know qualified extroverts that cannot sit still and stay on task.  Any excuse that allows them to stop what they’re doing and get up, walk around, and do something else – which usually means talking to anyone and everyone – they take. I don’t think that being prone to distraction is unique to introverts.
  3. You start to shut down after you’ve been active for too long.  That’s probably true with extroverts and introverts alike.  The difference is in what we consider “too long”.  I imagine that, for introverts, “too long” is a much shorter period of time than for extroverts, especially in social settings.
  4. You screen all your calls – even from friends.  Who calls anymore? I’m so shocked when my phone rings that I screen calls out of stunned ignorance. “What is that ringing sound?” Seriously, I do look at the caller ID, and there are times that I divert the call to voice mail, but I’m just as likely to answer the call. It’s all circumstantial, and since no one calls anymore, the sample set is too small to provide valid analysis.
  5. You don’t feel “high” from your surroundings. I do not get a ‘high’ from all surroundings. Standing in a disorganized mass of people waiting for the shuttle bus to take me back to the hotel did nothing to excite my endorphins.  Seeing a New York City avenue lit up with taxi tail lights at 4AM (it was a long time ago), and realizing that the City truly never sleeps, was exhilarating.  So is sitting with my toes in the sand of the white beaches of Grace Bay watching for the green flash at sundown, albeit in a different way. I can sit on my parent’s front porch in the mountains and get a rush from the turkey calling back to me from down in the valley.  Leah does not share that same environmental excitement, especially if turkeys are involved, but there are locations that she enjoys that I don’t. The fake purse store, for example.
  6. You alternate between phases of work and solitude, and periods of social activity. Again, as with #3, I think that introverts and extroverts both do this.  The difference is the amount of time that we spend in each phase.  My guess is that introverts spend more time in the solitude phase than extroverts. Extroverts spend more time in the social activity phase than introverts, but we all walk through the phases at our own pace.

The Two Signs That I Do Not See in Myself

  1. You’d rather be an expert at one thing than try to do everything. In my garage, at this moment, I have a set of golf clubs, a mountain bike, fishing rods, old running shoes, painting tools, and miscellaneous power tools as a testament that I will try to do just about anything. There’s not much that I don’t think that I can do, at least superficially. There may be introverts that focus on one thing, but I don’t feel that I’m one of them.
  2. You actively avoid any shows that might involve audience participation. Have I ever called a radio talk show and hung up as I waited on hold? Sure. I’ve also never been to a ‘Rock Horror Picture Show”, but I’ve been to a Wayne Brady show where he called up audience members. I attended a Regis & Kelly Live and had Gelman teach me how to clap so that I would sound like 10 people clapping instead of one person clapping – OHHH and the Dixie Stampede.  Again, the sample size is too small, but I don’t avoid the show. I wouldn’t volunteer to participate in the stick horse race, but neither would a lot of extroverts.  I wouldn’t avoid the show, though, just the participation.

Please don’t read that as me saying that the author is wrong. I’m just saying that I don’t see those signs in myself. It is certainly within the realm of possibility that I am completely self-unaware.

In post three, I’ll wrap up this series with a couple of real takeaways that I think are important for you to understand about introverts. Chances are, if you’re not an introvert, you’re in some type of relationship with someone who is.