Thursday, 23 March 2017

Introvert

I am an introvert. It's something I've felt growing in importance in who I am and how I define myself. Last year I actually started looking at the Myers-Briggs system, via a website called Personality Hacker which I've found interesting and helpful in coming to understand myself (I'm an INFP, which Personality Hacker label as 'introverted exploring'  and for good and ill seems to fit me to a tee). It was particularly interesting to learn that INFPs are heavily focused on authenticity, and also (possibly vexingly) very much devoted to being 'unknowable' as in there's a desire to keep people at arm's length a lot of the time. As a consequence, my MBTI type may have a little more to do with the next statement than I care to admit, but I feel I have to say it.

I hate the stuff I see on Facebook about introversion a lot of the time, it seems devoted to making introverts feel their difference even more than many of them do. I see stuff about how making phone calls is hard or that all introverts are so quiet they just don't talk but these are very individual things. I have no issues with making phone calls, though I admit I prefer to communicate in text, and well while I'm quiet in groups and find it hard to put myself forward a lot of the time when you get to know me and if there are only a few people around, I barely shut up.

Also, when I'm alone I can be all yak yak yak, unpacking the ideas and thoughts that other people just don't seem to grasp (believe me I've tried).

But, to see a lot of the memes and images on the internet it seems as if introverts are almost being encouraged to use the dismissal we may feel in society and use it as a defining quality that's almost entirely negative. One introvert group, I joined on Facebook was full of depressed people who were only really united by the alienation they felt from being introverts. There was no joy to what they saw in their situation only the fear of being seen a weird, which I believe the echo chamber of the group only added to. Likewise, when questions were raised there were no attempts to find solutions, just a pity party. In the same way that other groups can become a focus for negative reinforcement, it was pretty harrowing to read the constant 'I don't fit' posts; even though that's often exactly how I feel, that I don't fit in and that it sucks. There's only so much complaining that can happen though before you have to do something, it's your own responsibility to live a life that fulfils you, and if that means striking out on your own (something you'd think introverts would be good at), then that's just what you have to do.

So, I wonder how helpful these things are, sure they may be things where we go 'oh yes that's so me', but that might just mean that we see the trap we're backing into without actually doing anything to save ourselves from it. It's no good saying that you're an introvert (or anything really) if you're just using it as a way to punish yourself. It's a sign that you have to step outside the box, look at your life and find a way to navigate yourself to a good place. That probably, for introverts, means learning to avoid things, jobs, events, and so on, that are going to drain us and leave us feeling hollowed out, or as a friend of mine does, biting the bullet and diving in but having 'buffing' time alone to restore that balance.

I do think we need to burst out of the echo chamber and accept that while we may be a bit cracked, that's how the light gets in (to use a hideously mixed metaphor). After all, there's nothing we can do about being introverts, so let's find ways to make it work to our advantage.