Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Dear Mr. Extrovert,

A healthy understanding of the dynamics of an introvert is in order. You know us as the ones you must drag to social engagements. We're the first to try on invisibility at the room's periphery and the first who want to leave. You label us shy and loner, words as dispensable and empty as the heat shields on a Starbucks cup. There is more percolating beneath the surface than you think.

That awkward pause in small talk or the fact that we'd rather engage in solitary activities such as reading or writing than enter a tight jeans contest at a biker bar does not mean we are anti-social. While your brain is engaged in back lobe activity, seeking out the rich, sensory stimuli of interacting with others and your environment, we are firmly engaged in frontal lobe processes such as problem solving, introspection and complex thinking. Participating in a robust debate on the merits of professional wrestling may energize you, but we're contemplating the physics of spandex and the crippling effect of such a "sport" on your maturity.

While you thrive on small talk and would engage a willow tree in conversation if you could, we abhor it. Give us something deep and you'll find out our conversational preferences lie firmly in meaningful exchanges. Watch us grow animated discussing things we're passionate about and then try to label us shy. We can be the life of the party, engaging strangers with a charm that seems to come out of nowhere, but be warned. This social glimmer is fleeting. Our recharge time is precious. What you may view as isolated or arrogant is how we rediscover the essence of who we are.

We know why society values social skills. Our patterns of human behavior are firmly entrenched in tribal mentality. Trying to draw us out into an extroverted reflection of yourself suggests there is something wrong with the way we are when, in fact, our kind are predominately responsible for most of the advancements in civilization. If Albert Einstein or Issac Newton don't convince you of the merits of being an introvert, what about Steven Spielberg or Michael Jordan?

We connect the dots. Notice things others miss. Our focus is precision; our imagination active. We are exceptional listeners. Were it not for us, you'd join your own kind around that willow tree, shouting above each other to be heard. We are the quiet minds who see and accept your loose tongue and impulsive behavior. Appreciate us for all that you can't see.


The Introverts


Marilyn Brant said...

Oh, wow. Have you nailed this. I'm curious as to what you saw or read from the Extrovert in question that led to your letter... In any case, I know a social butterfly or two who'd benefit from reading it. Thanks :).

Charles Gramlich said...

You know, this is one of my favorite things to have read in a long time. If I were an extravort I'd be pumping my fist in the air going. "Feffing A Right!"

L.A. Mitchell said...

Marilyn...this has been building for a lifetime. Something that happened Sunday made me think about it and how I don't think I'll ever outgrow the impulse to apologize for it. Um, the biker bar thing...not recent :)

Everyone, Charles is a talented writer who tackles everything from horror haikus to description of nature that'll make you a permanent tree-hugger. Be sure to stop over there on a regular basis. I do.

Katie Reus said...

I feel like you just looked into my soul. I'm printing this out and keeping it next to my computer.

Anonymous said...