Right now it’s pretty chic to be an introvert. There was the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World Which Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain, which put introverts on the cultural map in a big way. Since that book came out, there have been approximately one billion Buzzfeed articles and other various listicles explaining introverts to the population and to themselves.
I read a good-sized portion of those articles, because I have always identified as an introvert. I have tested as an introvert on every Myers-Briggs test I have ever taken. I hate most big group situations. My husband thrives on walking down crowded city streets; I get overwhelmed by the mere existence of all those people. I don’t mind being by myself.
But since we got married, a weird thing happened. Andy started accusing me of being an extrovert. We would go out with a group of friends and I would come back bouncing with energy. When I see my family I get so excited that I am insanely hyper for over 24 hours and sometimes I get so amped up that I give myself a migraine (As Lisa says, it's for love) . I like to plan big parties. My husband looked at all these behaviors and diagnosed: extrovert.
I denied it vehemently. Surely I had not taken all those Myers-Briggs tests in vain! But then I started thinking about it. In my reading of those articles, I learned that being an introvert is not the same thing as being shy. The authors of these articles would write as though shyness were a deadly disease or a devastating insult. “We’re not shy!” the authors insisted, with a disgusted shudder. “How dare you even suggest it?” We are introverted, which is not at all the same thing!!! Introverts gain energy from being alone, but they're not afraid of people!”
Well then, what if I wasn’t introverted at all, but shy? I started looking at the data. I remember crying on several occasions during my childhood when my mom wanted me to call an adult on the phone. Once I needed to call a friend’s mom to see if I had left a retainer at her house after a sleepover. Once I had to call a store to see if they had any similar products to the invention that I was making for the Young Inventor’s Fair. I wailed for HOURS about both of these situations, begging my mom to not be so cruel as to make me talk to strangers! On the phone!Read More