This is the seventh in a weekly series debunking myths about introverts. (See last week’s post.) The basis of the 10 week series is the article written by Carl King. I will show his thinking, add mine and then encourage all of you to contribute your thoughts on the subject.
Don’t know if you’re an introvert or an extrovert? Take Susan Cain’s quiz.
Myth #5 – Introverts don’t like to go out in public.
Nonsense. Introverts just don’t like to go out in public FOR AS LONG. They also like to avoid the complications that are involved in public activities. They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.” They’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for Introverts.
This is a favorite myth of mine. It has a partial ring of truth about it. All of us like to go out in public. We’re alive, aren’t we? We just get satiated too quickly. A little goes a long ways with introverts.
Going out means an exercise in managing our energy reserves. Since no one has created the wonderful battery recharge meter that was in this week’s cartoon, we make choices about our outside time.
The problem with introverts is that we partake too much. We don’t just “go out”. We go out and notice Every Little Thing. We suck in data at what is often an overwhelming rate, and usually without noticing how much of it we are imbibing. We’ve been doing it from childhood, after all, so we don’t know any other way to function. What would be a pleasant Saturday afternoon at the local shopping mall to an extrovert is like a Christmas Eve shopping rush to an introvert.
An introvert can come back from a half hour in a shopping mall and be able to tell you about all the shops and what was in their windows. They have noticed all the people walking around, man and woman, young and old, families, loners, groups of teens, baby strollers, the person in the wheelchair, the lovers holding hands, the couple fighting, the ones laden with purchases, the ones eating a snack and just strolling, the hurried one running an errand. They’ve recorded the smells of the food court, the scratching of the chairs on the concrete floor, the lines of people waiting for food, which food is the most popular, which tables have crying and hungry children, which tables have solo eaters reading a book. They’ve registered snatches of every conversation that has wandered by them. They’ve noticed where it is light and where there are shadows, and where the light is bouncing off shiny metal. They’ve felt the spaces where the air was still, where is was stuffy, where there was a breeze as someone moves by them quickly. They’ve smelled every perfume, cologne and body odor, including the three pack a day smoker, and the residual of the cleaning products on every surface near them.
Just reading this has probably exhausted a lot of introverts because they’re reliving every associated memory they have, as they are nodding their heads in agreement.
A half hour in a shopping mall for an introvert is an automatic collection of many billions of data elements that must be analyzed and cataloged. It’s not a choice. It’s how we are hard wired in our brains. We just come like that when we are born. We don’t know how to turn it off, and it’s exhausting.
That’s why when we go out in public, we prefer simpler spaces. A quiet coffee shop where we can people watch. Small stores where we can enjoy our shopping, or large stores in the off hours where we can be pretty much on our own. Museums. Beautiful parks. Nice hiking trails. Botanic gardens. A bike ride. Getting together for a meal in a charming little restaurant with a few close friends.
I think that since we don’t seem to be able to restrict the amount of information we take in, we learn to limit our exposure to it. Hence the myth that we don’t like to go out in public. We just are selective about our experiences, and when we reach our maximum level of stimulation we have to retreat to our quiet place to decompress. If we don’t, we feel like we’re going to explode.
Where are your favorite places to go? What is your public world like? Share with us.
Have a quiet day!
Hi. I’m Chris. I’m an introvert. Look for my ongoing series debunking the introvert myths (Sunday) and introvert cartoons (Wednesday), plus anything else interesting that I find in the meantime. Come and share with like-minded introverts. I also contribute to the new food blog Three’s Cooking, learning to cook from the heart, for the soul.