The Dirty Dancing soundtrack might not be an obvious source of controversial statements, but I felt a prickle of annoyance when I recently listened closely to the lyrics of one particular song on what had been my favourite CD as a teen.
Alongside the classics Do You Love Me, Hey Baby and Hungry Eyes, was Stay, which includes the line: “Nothing could be sadder than a glass of wine alone.” Only a true extrovert could write a line like this. As an introvert, I think there is little in this world that is happier than a glass of wine alone.
It got me thinking about some of the misconceptions of the extroverted world that fail to represent introverts.
About a year ago, a teen boy posted a photograph of himself with an older woman in a restaurant on Twitter. He proudly wrote that the woman had been sitting and reading, and assuming she was lonely, graced her with his company.
It did not take long for the comments to reflect how misguided the teenager had been in his assumptions, and as someone who relishes the opportunity to sit in a café with a book and no company, and who would be horrified by such an imposition, I thrilled that so many kindred spirits commented. Clearly, I am not alone in my desire to sit on my own, with a book.
And so, in the interests of building harmony and understanding between the personality types, here is a list of some more things introverts like me love … and hate.
After the party, not the afterparty
Some people might think that introverts do not like parties or social events, but that certainly isn’t always the case. I love a party of any kind, whether it is a dinner party with close friends or a wedding reception with lots of drinks and dancing. But the highlight will always be the moment I lay my head on my pillow and open my book, and quietly regain a sense of equilibrium. So, let’s skip the afterparty and head to bed after the party.
Introverts can feel depleted after long periods of socialising, without the chance to refuel on their own. But, no matter how much I’ve been around other people, I’m always happy to listen to other people talking, as long as I’m not actively involved. I love listening to ABC Radio National’s Conversations while not involved in the conversation myself. Even better if it is true crime podcast when I can find out the intimate details of life and death, while remaining far from the action.
Working from home
The cost and scarcity of office space in big cities might be a bane of corporations, but are a godsend for introverts, as they make working from home possible for many employees. Staying at home to work is an introvert’s dream, saving us from being socially ‘on’ all day and the stress of the constant collegiality of the introvert’s nightmare: an open plan office (see below).
A benefit for everyone involved, working from home also means that any projects can be completed in a fraction of the time, without all the chance interruptions, and noise of the office extroverts.
A quiet hairdresser
I don’t care how they style my hair, but what I really love is a hairdresser who lets me read quietly some trashy mags for an hour and a half. This is not just because I want some downtime while I sit in the chair, but also because I feel for the hairdresser who has to make inane conversation with EVERY SINGLE customer, while simultaneously trying to concentrate on cutting their hair.
Having said that, I have to admit that I love to sit next to the chattiest hairdresser and customer possible. Who doesn’t want to sit in peace and listen to them discuss who should win the most recent Bachelorette or rate the attractiveness of Princess Beatrice’s fiance?
A glass of wine alone
Nothing can be happier. Really.
WHAT WE DON’T LIKE
Open plan offices
Can there be any greater assault on the psyche of an introvert than the requirement they sit in a pod with a colleague in front, and another on either side of them, ALL DAY? The only relief comes during the lunch break when it is possible to escape for some heavenly seclusion … unless someone has the bright idea of holding a midday meeting, team lunch, or some other travesty.
In my first role as a journalist, I sat next to a co-worker who continually peered over the divider between our desks, asking, “Whatcha up to?”
I wasn’t surprised when I read a study that revealed open plan offices actually decrease collaboration between workers as everyone reaches for their headphones to block out office noises … and other people.
Team building exercises
The pain of an open plan office is only trumped when the senior management in that office instigates a team building day. Whether a scavenger hunt or a physical challenge where colleagues catch each other before falling backwards, I’d rather fall into a dark and deep hole than spend an excruciating day pretending to enjoy such exercises. If the shock of seeing usually professionally-dressed colleagues in their casual clothing isn’t bad enough, there’s every chance introverts will miss out on their treasured lunchbreak time out. Instead of the aim of making colleagues like each other more, these contrived events just tend to ignite a simmering resentment between staff members. Managers, don’t do it, but if you can’t resist, make sure alcohol is involved to ease the suffering of introverts … or ensure that any inhibitions are removed to make way for the telling of some brutal truths about these events.
Unless you are my husband, mother or one of my very best friends, text me. Few inventions have been welcomed by introverts as wholeheartedly as the text message, which has saved us from hundreds of useless phone conversations. Similarly, I love online booking systems. Who wants to speak to the beauty therapist just to arrange an eyebrow wax? Even a booking system that Bill Gates would struggle to navigate is superior to having to make a phone call. In fact, for introverts, text messages and online booking systems are the real wonders of the modern world.
As an introvert, what do you love and hate? I’d love to add to my list!