Now more than ever before, the Internet is brimming with articles on Introversion. Some version of “How to care for your Introvert” shows up on my newsfeed more times I can count in a day. And that’s great. Discovering your personality type is fantastic and identifying as an introvert can be life-changing. However, not all of these articles are doling out entirely healthy advice.
Lately – particularly on tumblr – I’ve noticed a large influx of articles that imply that it is every introvert’s right to bail on plans, avoid important conversations and generally take no responsibility for the social contracts they engage in, because they’re introverts, therefor the regular rules do not apply.
This, quite frankly, is bullshit. And it’s insulting to introverts everywhere. Nothing about drawing energy from within implies that introverts are unable to uphold social contracts or general life duties. And the more we encourage each other to “Stay in! Bail on your friends and watch Netflix in a snuggie until you feel better,” The more we are simply giving introverts everywhere a bad name. Here are ten scenarios where being an introvert is not an excuse for your behaviour. If you’re doing any of the below you’re not exercising your right to introversion, you are just plain being an asshole.
1. Flaking on plans.
Needing alone time is never a valid excuse to flake on plans that affect someone else, especially if it is hours (or minutes) before said plans were set to take place. We all want to bail on plans from time to time, regardless of our personality types. But doing so is not your right to self-care as an introvert – it’s making the decision that your own time and enjoyment is more important than someone else’s.
2. Obviously avoiding someone you know when you see him or her in public because you’re not big on small talk.
We all sneak away unnoticed from time to time. But if you are blatantly acknowledged by the other person, it is rude to bail on the situation regardless of how introverted you are. Nobody likes small talk. It’s just a necessary evil that we all have to endure from time to time – being an introvert does not get you a ‘Get out of small talk free’ card.
3. Hating other people.
Running for extended periods of time wears me out but I still love running. In the same vein, introverts can be tired by extended social interaction but still love and appreciate the people they’re interacting with. Hating other people has nothing to do with being an introvert – it is solely a product of being a miserable human being with low self-esteem. You don’t get to blame that unfortunate state on your personality.
4. Being passive-aggressive.
Disliking confrontation does not give you the right to deal with real issues through passive-aggressive behavior – especially if you expect those issues to get resolved. Rejection is just as hard to deal with for extroverts as it is for introverts. If you want something, ask for it. If you don’t ask for it (or at least overtly discuss it and make your desires clear), you don’t have a right to expect it. Easy as that.
5. Taking no responsibility for your social life.
It is nobody’s job but your own to ensure that you have plans for Friday night. If everyone is hanging out without you, it may be because you never expressed interest in joining. Your social life is your responsibility – if you don’t like the activities that are (or aren’t) being planned it’s your job to either say so or suck it up.
6. Giving someone the silent treatment while you think things over.
Needing time to think things over before formulating a response is definitely an introvert trait. However, it’s not a trait that entitles you to leave someone entirely in the dark while you’re mulling something over. This is extremely stressful and unfair to the other party. If they’re investing in a relationship of any kind with you, they deserve to have at least some insight as to what’s going on. Something as simple as “I’m upset but I need to think things over and will get back to you tomorrow,” is infinitely more respectful than radio silence.
7. Avoiding an important conversation.
There are some conversations that we owe it to others to have – for example when we encounter a major issue with an important relationship. If we’re letting problems fester and grow because we are uncomfortable talking about them, we’re damaging our relationships – which affects other people in the long run. Not gleaning energy from a conversation is no excuse not to have it.
8. Refusing to match the energy of others.
Generally speaking, introverts aren’t as quick to pick up on the energy of other people as extroverts are – and that’s fine. But in some situations we all fake a little bit of energy, regardless of whether or not we’re feeling it. When your friend gets a promotion, blandly replying “Yeah, cool” to their excited squeals is a cruel thing to do – regardless of how zapped you are at the time.
9. Neglecting your relationships in general.
If you are constantly bailing on hangouts, not initiating contact with your friends or family members and failing to reach out to your loved ones in their times of need, you are not exercising your right to be an introvert – you are being an asshole. And you will, rightfully, end up friendless.
10. Painting extroverts as shallow village idiots who are allergic to knowledge.
Some introverts have rich, creative inner worlds that they invest their energy into exploring. And some introverts are just shallow assholes who happen to not talk much. It’s the exact same deal with extroverts. Basing someone’s intellectual capacity on how often he or she speaks is arbitrary and pretentious. There is nothing inherently nobler about being either an introvert or an extrovert. We all have our strengths and our weaknesses – and which you choose to capitalize on defines what type of person you are.