Other People at Breakfast
was eavesdropping on overheard a conversation in a restaurant in California. They were discussing a book about extroverts and introverts, how the former are recharged by time with people and the latter are drained by it, how it’s not a matter of confidence vs. shyness. Introverts can, in fact, be “people persons” in that they can be outgoing and interactive in a group, be friendly and likable, but it costs them energy to do it. Whereas, extroverts soak it all up and are drained when deprived of that interaction.
Even more recently, a friend posted this article about the same thing, written by an introvert. Yeah, sometimes I am a bit of a misanthrope, mostly for groups of mankind and their stupid behavior rather than individuals with whom I’ve chosen to associate. But I am not shy. You people just exhaust me. And that’s okay… normal even… for us.
You think I’m an extrovert because I can turn it on, but that is a learned and valuable social skill. I’m grateful to my father for teaching me how to get along with folks that way. I always assumed he is an extrovert, but was recently challenged by an observation that he watches and listens, then interacts mindfully. Effectively. And yes, I remember him spending untold hours in his home office doing work and working on lessons he taught in class. Perhaps he was recharging, alone, to be able to put on that game face when it was time. Maybe not, but if so, I totally get it. If he is an extrovert, all those hours working alone must have been drudgery, but worth the payoff of making the presentations and leading the classes.
What a curious idea! Half (or some other percentage ~ it doesn’t really matter) of the world is energized by what drains the other half, and vice versa. The world loves the company of extroverts but values the work of introverts. How many of us make our choices dependent upon how we want to be appreciated rather than understanding what makes us tick?
Okay. My name is Molly and I am an introvert. I like you and want to be friends. When I don’t join in the group, it’s only because it would take more energy than I have to give right then. “Joining in” is an investment for me, not necessarily a payoff… except when it is. Friends are important. Everyone needs friends. But sometimes, just knowing you’re there (rather than here) is enough. Thank you for understanding… or at least accepting.
* “Hell is other people at breakfast.” ~Sartre **
**Turns out, he actually wrote only “L’enfer, c’est les autre,” Hell is other people. I nearly fact-checked it myself, but the first is absolutely true and I’m kinda lazy. The blog title remains as is, with apologies to M. Sartre.