This post was written and posted on the quick following acute frustration in my afternoon reading. I’m seeing a lot of things around the Internet where people are tagging themselves as “I’m a shy introvert.” No, you’re shy AND you’re an introvert. You have a phobia around social interactions, and you have a type preference to lose energy around people. I’m tired of seeing people chalked up as “shy, quiet, introverted” people. They are three different things. I discussed this in a highly-read post a while ago, but to review:
- An introvert is someone who loses energy when interacting with people. (I am one of these.)
- A quiet person is someone who just doesn’t feel the need to verbally dominate a group or to be heard constantly. (I am NOT one of these, I am a chatterbox around people I’m comfortable with and don’t lose my energy as long as we’re talking about something interesting.)
- A shy person has, in my opinion, a psychological pathology around interacting with people, be it fear of rejection, low self-esteem, conditioned expectation of criticism or punishment for speaking up, or excessive pride that can’t bear the judgments of others. (I was one of these in my high school days, following a few years of poor social interactions and ostracism.) Introverts are only a quarter of the population, which means that lots of shy people are extroverts – which means they are deeply conflicted, their phobia denying them the energy they need from other people.
As a recovering shy person myself, I suppose I have some “former smoker syndrome” going on where I am intolerant of other shy people who haven’t gotten over it yet. I do empathize with them. But let me be clear - if you are shy, going through the personal effort (or therapy if necessary) to dispatch that problem is probably the single biggest thing you can do to boost your life success right now.
I know that’s easier said than done. But it doesn’t have to be a prison, and it’s so worth it.
My introversion is still with me, and is a part of me I’m proud of. I plainly (if politely) assert it when necessary, to say “I’ve had a great time y’all, but I need to get out of here.” If something is really not worth my social energy, it’s “I don’t have time for this bullshit.”
You don’t have to be the life of the party to do well with women. Mystery’s brand of wow-the-crowd game was never something I even attempted, knowing I wouldn’t have the patience and energy to get skilled at managing large groups of people in pursuit of the attraction of one of them. But Roosh’s style of innocuously vibing one-on-one, with an intellectual bent, has yielded great results for me.
INTROVERTS ARE NOT DEFECTIVE EXTROVERTS
Alongside people improperly diagnosing themselves as shy/introverted/whatever, equally frustrating is extroverts casting introversion as pathological and substandard.
I’m going to be glib and hyperbolic here and suggest that this is pure projection, the extrovert thinking that if someone doesn’t want to talk to him, something must be wrong with the person who’s not talking. I suppose that is an extension of the reality of being an extrovert, which is centered around the belief that everyone else wants and needs to hear what’s coming out of your mouth.
Ronald Reagan was an introvert. He certainly wasn’t too shy to mock Walter Mondale’s age to his face on live television, or too weak to tell Mikhail Gorbachev that East German Communism sucked on Mickey’s own soil.
I’m amped up about this because I’m seeing it in online dating profiles – I’ve read a bunch where women say their man has to be outgoing, because “I’ve dated a shy/quiet/introverted guy and it just doesn’t work for me.” Sometimes this comes off of an OkCupid question that asks if you could date someone who is really quiet. I suppose it’s the man’s job to sing and dance so that she’s not made uncomfortable by awkward silences? It’s a transparent variation on hypergamous alpha-chasing and the demands that a guy “own the room” (for social value) and that he provide constant stimulation to her (for dopamine flow).
Let’s turn the projection back. Words are valuable to an introvert, so if you find yourself with a guy who isn’t lighting up the verbal fires with you, maybe you should consider whether the stuff coming out of your mouth is worth his time and effort to respond to. (We’ve all known people who thought they were a lot more interesting than they actually are, “legends in their own mind.”) Or maybe you’re putting him in front of your friends and family and expecting him to impress everybody before he’s ready for that kind of investment.
The whole “he’s weird if he’s not outgoing” thing is a very dangerous and pernicious mechanism that dehumanizes people who don’t fit our stereotyped behavior patterns. We introverts could just as easily cast extroverts as compulsive blitherers, peddlers of content-free chatter in the way a cat demands to be petted just as you are starting on other important things.