You haven’t had a blood test or peed into a cup, but you’re pretty sure you’ve got it — a serious case of introversion.
While there’s no diagnostic test, you may be an introvert if any of the following sounds familiar.
Around talkative extroverts, you marvel at how people can have so much to say. Your own mind is a blank, and attempts at small talk produce only dull-witted cliches and banal utterances.
Large-scale social events terrify you. You’d rather face a firing squad than mix and mingle with people you don’t know. Having a social life seems only slightly less scary than swimming the Atlantic Ocean in a straightjacket.
At no time have you ever been part of the “in” crowd. You’ve always been an outsider, even among outsiders. You’ve been called “mellow” so many times that you may change your name. Your therapist told you that you’re odd, a “dud” and that you suck at relationships. Your friends are strangers who’ve taken you in like a stray cat. Finding your tribe is a hopeless fantasy.
Dating is another social activity you loathe. The closest you’ve ever come to an active sex life is a lifetime membership to PornHub.
In school, you were a target for abuse by aggressive classmates. This treatment produced feelings of inferiority that left you emotionally devastated. When you got out of school, you were a reclusive shell of a human being unable to connect with others.
Because you’ve spent your whole life trying to be who you’re not, you have no idea who you are. The pressure to conform has produced deep-seated feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt.
You’re drawn to solitary activities like writing and meditation because they don’t involve people. You love animals and wish people made you feel the way they do, warm and welcome. They never do.
You feel numb much of the time, but you’re not sure why. You compare yourself to happy extros and wonder why it seems that life is passing you by.
As you might guess, these experiences are drawn from my own life. I don’t mention them to get pity, but to show how our culture’s obsession with conformity and normality, however defined, harms people. Social rejection can be due to racial or ethnic differences, a difference in sexual orientation or identity, or any characteristic that significantly deviates from the norm.
If you decide to label yourself an introvert, I have no glib advice to give you. I only hope that if you experience rejection for being different, it will inspire you to extend an open-hearted attitude toward those who are rejected for other reasons. Because the real pathology isn’t introversion, it’s intolerance.
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