How to be an introvert

Let’s be honest here: Shy people just aren’t living life to the fullest.

If I uttered the rallying cry, “Introverts unite!” I’d have to clarify that they’re allowed to do it quietly and in the back of the room, so they don't have to draw attention to themselves.

We’ve heard the advice from their much more fulfilled extrovert companions.

“How To ... ” writers have plenty of helpful suggestions that introverts ignore, much to their detriment: “Put yourself out there,” “come out of your shell,” “let your hair down."

And look at how they’re helpfully represented in the media, with widely accepted tropes illuminating the true nature of shy existence. Any given romantic comedy shows them for who they are: uptight, just needing a good-hearted and well-meaning push.

Those shy guys need a guru, a group of man-child friends to embarrass them, or a bet to inspire their sense of manly competition. In their stories, the quiet guy either has a dark (and dangerously alluring) secret or wildly inadequate social skills. And, if we're being honest, a proper introvert is rarely the dangerously alluring one.

Those reserved females in popular culture, well, they’re nearly lost causes with their severe up-dos, structured, restrictive clothing and overall mousiness. Some form of humiliation to get them to laugh at themselves will help. Getting drunk is better. A combination of the two, along with an eventual makeover, is best of all.

The reality, my introvert friends, is that you just aren’t happy being quiet. You might think you are — content observing a room, comfortable with a quiet evening alone, at ease with listening rather than feeling pressured to speak, but we all know better.

In short, you won’t be fulfilled unless you do something completely out of character. The only way to survive as an introvert is to not be an introvert.

It’s time you joined with the popular consensus and agreed to all the anecdotes. Try out a career requiring constant interaction with people, even if it is rather exhausting for your personality. Jump at the chance to be at the center of the dance floor, even if you prefer a quiet conversation on the sidelines.

Deep down, you know the truth. Just as the countless movies, TV shows, love songs, self-help bloggers and even everyday extroverts readily admit — you’re quiet because you’re scared or because of low self-esteem. You just haven’t experienced the validation of someone else obliging you by setting your inner extrovert free.

In the end, you just can’t do it yourself. After all, isn't a wallflower really just a wilting flower, thirsting for someone to come to the rescue?

Isn't introversion really a burden that obviously can’t be handled by introverts, since they remain stricken by its curse, right?

Clearly, if all the rhetoric is to be believed, a fulfilled life is contingent upon someone else unleashing the real you, provided the real you is outgoing.

Don’t worry, it is.

At least, that’s what they keep telling me.

 

Reach the columnist at esther.drown@asu.edu or follow her at @EMDrown

 


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