Monday, 22 February 2016

Introverts Are Awesome!

Howdy folks! Here's something I dragged out of the vaults for today's burning question: 

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

Quiet and reserved?

Or a bubbly, outgoing chatterbox?

The person sitting sedately in the corner at social occasions?

Or do you prefer dancing on the tables and being the centre of attention?

Maybe you're somewhere in between these extremes? I'd like to know! 

As for me,  clearly it's obvious. It's table-top dancing exhibitionism all the way, baby! And talking? I never stop! 

The fact that this is all a figment of my imagination is COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT.

Oh alright, sometimes I like to pretend I'm the opposite of what I'm really like. I mean, it was okay to sing into a hair brush in my bedroom as a child and pretend to be a pop star. Can't I still play pretend as an adult? The problem is, I have difficulty translating my flights of fantasy into real life 'fake it until you make it' situations. Sigh. 

The truth is that I'm so introverted I make all other introverts seem like Alan Carr Chatty Man on Speed. In addition to my extreme introversion, I am also ridiculously shy. If that wasn't enough, I also have Asperger's Syndrome. Oh yes, I've scored the ultimate hat-trick of excruciating social awkwardness. Yay me! 

Just make sure you invite me to all your parties if you really want to them to just  GO  OFF!  I mean completely, OFF. Literally. I'll bore all the guests rigid in seconds. If my riveting personality isn't enough, all I need to do is whip out my Carpenters albums. DONE. 

Anyway, as you can see, all of the above traits have led to me disintegrating in self-deprecation quite frequently. However, since the publication of the book I mentioned, there has been a subtle shift. Us introverts are finally getting our fifteen minutes of fame. There is even a Facebook group called Introverts Are Awesome.
I absolutely agree. So I stole the title for this post. Ahem.

As mute as I can be in person, I have a feeling that I have plenty to say on this topic. So feel free to skim through to the end. 

Otherwise, strap yourself in, it's going to be a self-indulgent ride. You're welcome.  

Apparently it was some dude named Carl Jung who first coined the terms introvert and extrovert. Although there still appears to be some ongoing debate about the true definition of these terms, the simple lay person's guide is this:

An introvert is somebody who finds too much social interaction over-stimulating and needs to recharge with solitude. Extroverts, on the other hand, are energised and thrive off being around other people. 

This is a pretty basic, abridged definition. Obviously there has been reams of stuff written about the two different types and there can be variables. For instance, not all introverts consider themselves to be shy.  

Personally, I was so sensitive about being shy as a young person that I failed to realise that I was also introverted and that this is perfectly fine. Looking back I can see that I sabotaged myself in some ways. 

After I finished High School back in the olden days of the late 1980's, I studied at TAFE to become a Library Technician. My shyness caused me so much agony, especially in the form of job interviews, that even though I managed to secure temporary positions, I finally convinced myself that I was not cut out for the job.

Guess what? You don't have to be extroverted to work in a Library! Who knew? It never occurred to me to see being quiet and introverted as a positive instead of a negative.

There seems to be way too much emphasis on being extroverted in our culture. For so many years I always believed that being shy/introverted was this bad, hideous, awful thing about me that had to be changed at all costs.

The inference from other people was  always that if only I tried hard enough I could 'come of out my shell'. I have grown to hate that expression. Having people subtly put you down in this way constantly just reinforces all the above feelings. I felt that everything about me was intrinsically WRONG. 

After ditching the Library work, I started working in a call centre. Yep, I'm a genius. This is the introvert's version of Hell. Only worse. Anyway, I used to envy the fact that my co-workers seemed to have all this easy banter and rapport. I'd see groups of women trotting off to lunch together laughing, and wish I could be one of them. 

Then, the rare times that I was actually invited out to lunch with others, I'd find myself feeling....well, frankly....bored. Not shy. Not anxious. Just plain old bored. While they chattered on about how hammered they were on the weekend (perfectly normal for a bunch of twenty somethings), I had nothing to add to this conversation. This is when I realised that I do sometimes prefer my own company. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not totally anti-social. I just prefer small groups of close friends and family than over-whelming crowds of lots of people. And sometimes I just don't click or have anything in common with some people. I've decided that this is okay. After all, you don't have to like or be liked by everyone

Even when I socialise with close friends and family I suffer a 'social hangover' afterwards. I enjoy it, but I then I need time alone to re-charge. Instead of feeling refreshed and energised I feel  like I've done 50 rounds in the ring with The Rock, then been run over by truck and put through a blender. 

See, I knew that I would ramble on about this subject. Whatever the written equivalent of verbal diarrhoea is, I have it. Ahem.

I  ain't coming out of my shell for anyone! 

Even alcohol doesn't 'bring me out of my shell'. Instead, I just feel sleepy and mellow after one or two drinks. After a third I'll either feel light-headed and sick or slip into a coma. I'm SUCH a party animal!

Fortunately, I never attend many parties. Unless they are children's parties. Nobody appears to have 'at home' parties anymore. Or, if they are, we're not being invited. This means that I may have to sit in a McDonald's/Play Centre/Bowling Alley with a few other unfamiliar parents and make polite chit-chat. Not surprisingly, I suck at it. 

I'll either go with my favourite option: mutism. Or, alternatively, I'll completely put my foot in it and blurt out way too much information. 

Like the time one Mum was chatting away about a friend who had tragically lost a baby half way through her pregnancy, yet still had to give birth.

"I couldn't imagine having to go through that!" she said, almost in tears "It would be terrible!"

"Yes, it is," I replied, without thinking "the same thing happened to me." 

The poor woman looked thunderstruck. Of course there was no way she could ever have known that. I wouldn't say it was exactly helpful of me to bring it up. She apologised, clearly wishing the ground would swallow her. Good one, Ness.

Ditto the time when I used to attend Playgroup with Mr 5 before he started school. One of the Mums there expressed her worry about her Dad who was having a colonoscopy that day. I proceeded to inform her how Micky Blue Eyes has one every year after having had bowel cancer in 2004. Her worried expression turned to one of terror. Well played yet again, Ness.  Way to go with the social gaffes!

As Mr 11 would say in a faux American drawl:


No wonder I mostly stick to what I'm best at. Shutting right up.

Yes sir, selective mutism and I are besties. 

ALL VALE NESSKI: Bringing you awkward silences since 1971!

Another phenomenon that came into play during the Play Group era was my introverted tendency to suffer from a 'social hangover'. I briefly touched upon this before.

Playgroup only consisted of a measly two hours a week of social interaction.  That's nothing, right? So why did I go home every week and feel like sobbing from exhaustion? The next week would roll around and I'd feel barely recovered.

Meanwhile, the other Mums revealed how they schlepped their kidlets to various groups on multiple days of the week. I was STUNNED to learn this. Seriously. STUNNED. 

I couldn't have been more shocked if they'd revealed that they liked to snort cocaine off a hooker's arse while their kids watched. 

Okay, I may be exaggerating just a teeny bit. But it is quite amazing to me how you weirdo extroverted folk like this socialising caper so much. 

I guess I could force myself out of my comfort zone once in while. 

It is quite interesting being a shy, introverted Aspie and being a mother of three amazing but noisy boys! On the one hand, I often crave peace and solitude. On the other hand, my family are my coat of armour against the World.

An oldie but a goodie 

In all my many awkward moments I can remind myself that I don't have to worry about what others think of me. I have Micky Blue Eyes and the boys who love and accept me. We are a family of introverts. The only difference is, my boys are certainly NOT shy! 

Anyway, Susan Cain has a Manifesto for Introverts.

I'd like to make up my own manifesto, but I'll have to think about it further in order to come up with something poetic and wise.

In the mean time, you can always count on good old Grumpy Cat:

Linking up for  IMust ConfessOpen Slather and Mummy Mondays

Are you an introvert or an extrovert, or maybe a bit of both? 



  1. I spent years working an extrovert career before the penny dropped that I was in fact an introvert. It took a bit of a melt down for the penny to drop.

  2. I definitely need the downtime to recharge after or even during a social event. A quick trip to the bathroom for some deep breaths can work wonders!

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  4. I'm what they call an Ambivert which is what they call a bit of both. I remember working as a Recruitment Consultant and hated the cold calling, I just wanted to escape into a room. On the other hand, if I'm in the right situation where I'm comfortable and have things in common, I can be a bit of an extrovert. I think you're a bit too hard on yourself!!

  5. Both hubster and I fall right in the middle. People think I'm an extrovert because I can be very bubbly and outgoing, but I draw my strength from alone time!

  6. On the social side I think it has to do with how comfortable you feel ... family often is the most comfortable you can feel. I am a bit of both, I enjoy time being social with those I know (dread strangers) but I also love my own company and am happy in it.

  7. I think we sometimes get caught up in the *shoulds* of being social instead of using our strengths.

  8. I am most definitely an introvert! I crave quite time away from people and can be awkward when it comes to socialising.

  9. I'm the lone extrovert here in a sea of introverts. But you're all awesome so that's cool :)