Tuesday I had to do a performance piece for Fibre+Mixed media. I chose to talk about being introverted, while wearing a cheese suit as a distraction. As an addition to all my other stress, it was really hard, and I was shaky and exhausted when it was over. I was told it went well, though. Anyway, without further ado, here is my text from the presentation. Blame choppiness and weird punctuation on the need for ease of out-loud reading.
This performance thing is honestly the last thing I’d like to be doing right now. Frankly, I’d rather be scrubbing a public toilet with a toothbrush than standing here. Alright, so maybe I’ve exacerbated the problem by wearing this cheese suit. This is kind of a ridiculous exercise in masochism. I am wearing a huge awkward outfit, I can’t put my arms down, I’m talking about myself in front of my peers… I don’t know about this. Well, I guess I can blame it on my personality.
Recently it has come to my attention that I am part of a minority. Apparently introverts make up only about 25% of the population, with the rest of the population being extroverted. What does that mean, exactly?
Well, about 100 years ago some psychologists decided the world was divided into two kinds of people:
An extrovert is someone who obtains energy by being around others. I like to think of it as a sort of social vampirism, feeding on emotional output, but maybe I’m just bitter.
An introvert, on the other hand, is drained by social environments, because people are tiring,
and it takes a long time to process social interactions.
I guess the point of this is that I never realized it was an actual thing a person could be or have, or really worry about. I thought maybe I was just shy, socially inept and awkard, and went along on my merry way. While those may play a role, I am now equipped with a lovely excuse to use as needed, like Mrs. Dash, or something.
This also means that I feel a little bit less alone, about the whole thing, like I have some company.
It’s hard, when every time I talk to someone, I worry about how I may have offended them, or how they probably meant something else.
I’ll never know! and some great conspiracy or another. I guess that extreme might be a more serious matter, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
According to the news, a lady with a turtle for a mascot, and some thorough internet searching – real scientific research - my brain is hard wired differently from the brains of 75% of the population. While I prefer to listen, others prefer to be irritating.
People tend to ask why I’m so quiet, or wonder why I don’t enjoy myself at hubbubs of activity for people i don’t know, like parties and clubs.
No, I don’t want to go to the party because I don’t like your friends, although that may also be the case. I didn’t choose to stay home rather than attending any particular social function because I am antisocial.
The simple answer is, people will just make me too darn tired to make it worth the effort, and I probably won’t like them anyway.
While I haven’t really encountered them before, in preparing for this event I have come across a lot of weird misconceptions about introverts. One article online said that it must be tragic to be an introvert, because if you’re buying a television you have to consider how heavy it is, or worry about who is going to help you move your furniture when you buy a couch.
A thesaurus describes my plight simply: Synonyms for extrovert include:
“People person”, exhibitionist, gregarious, life of the party
Introverts are described with words like “guarded,” “loner,” “reserved,” “taciturn,” “self-contained,” “private” autist, brooder, egoist, loner, narcissist, self-observer, solitary, wallflower
There is really nothing wrong with standing on the sidelines. It’s just kind of a comfort zone thing, you know? Just because I don’t enjoy being surrounded by multitudes of people doesn’t mean I’m self-absorbed. If you think about it, surrounding yourself with people seems kind of self-absorbed in itself. What’s with that? What a bunch of hypocrites. It’s difficult for extroverts to understand introverts, because if an extrovert was having some kind of problem, maybe they would be more quiet and reserved. For an introvert, that’s absolutely normal. We deal with our problems in completely different ways. Anyway, if you say I’m more likely to be some crazy loner cat lady, I am going to point out that you are probably more likely out of the two of us to be some kind of violent wife-abuser. I can generalize, too!
What I am seeing coming out of this whole deal is a sort of Introverts’ Rights movement. Down with these crazy exhibitionists! I want to live in a world where I don’t have to pretend I like people when I apply for a job. Sure, I can be as friendly as anyone else, but if I have to share the breakroom with some blathering idiot, too, I’ll be so exhausted when I get home that I won’t be able to do anything else.
On the other hand, I think I enjoy the thought of being something special. Introverts make up 60% of the gifted population, or so I’m told. Maybe I am a genius who thinks before she speaks, is part of the gifted few and has fabulous creative possibilities. That could make anyone feel good. Of course I’d like to be part of your minority, if you shower me with compliments. Make me feel better about my social ineptitude so I don’t have to do anything about it. I can just continue to live with my parents forever.
It is a distinct possibility that my introverted state has caused my social skills to be severely underdeveloped. Sometimes I get so nervous about things that seem a little bit silly, like going to the bank and talking to a real person, or mailing a parcel at the post office. It took me three weeks to mail my student loan agreement. I guess maybe that’s serious.
Maybe part of my problem is that in any imaginings towards extroversion, I’m picturing myself as an annoying and shallow person who hangs out with a bunch of annoying, shallow people. We’ll all go shopping together and tell each other how great we look in those new clothes. But I don’t know, the same sources as these realizations also contain ridiculous statements, like this one:
“Realize that when you hold yourself back from socializing, you’re not only depriving yourself — you’re also depriving other people of the chance to get to know you. How much longer do you want your future spouse or best friend to remain alone?”
I don’t know about these fear tactics. At least I know the friends I have are more likely to be genuine.
Can’t I do anything by myself without being judged? Maybe this movement will spread. I mean, the internet seems to have a wealth of opinions, although pink-themed websites hosted by poorly drawn characters like Terri the Turtle don’t quite make me feel better. Up with introversion! Pretty soon we’ll even be having all sorts of rallies, marches and what have-yous for our cause.
On second thought, maybe we’ll just stay home and have a nice, quiet cup of tea.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get the hell out of this cheese costume and get some time to myself.