Recently, there have been a number of articles and blogposts about the topic of introversion, like here, probably due to the new book by Susan Cain about the topic (here you can find her charming TED talk about this).
As a person who invariably feels a surge of relief after leaving a party and standing again on a calm street, all these articles make me happy.
One thing, however, that I gathered from these articles really puzzled me:
There are many introverts who try very hard to mimic extroverts in an effort to blend in.
I was quite shocked to learn this. This is why I seem to meet so few people that seem truly introvert, like myself. This is why it the behaviour of many seemingly outgoing people seems so forced and unnatural to me.
One woman wrote that she actually has carefully studied extroverts in her teens, noticed that they often touch people casually, and are careful to say short sentences to nearly everyone in the room at a party, and then drift on.
She then describes that she has made an effort to learn these to her highly unnatural behaviours, and now applies them all the time, to blend in.
To me, this is rather depressing. It is like a homosexual saying he pretends to be straight to fit in. Sadly, exactly these people are often the ones which are most hostile to truly introvert behaviour in other people. (Extroverts are anyway too extroverted to notice us.) These wanna-be extrowerts will tell us to ‘just fake to be outgoing for an evening’, ‘just laugh about jokes you do not find funny’.
In fact, I recently found out that out why the hell they would say something so stupid. The difference between me and them is about ‘self-monitoring‘. High self-monitors are people who try very hard to fit in. If introverts are high self-monitors, they will try to seem extrovert, since what they think society wants from them.
Low self-monitors, like myself, cannot understand this. I believe that honesty is more important than fitting in. And while I am often far away from this ideal, not opening my mouth when I should, at least I do not pretend that I follow the opinion of the majority if I don’t. I don’t smile about stupid jokes, and thus often come across as stiff or arrogant, but I can live with that.
I wish the high self-monitors would realize that that there are many other introverts in the world. If they would all stop pretending to be extroverts, who knows, we might even be in the majority.