There’s this “Cult of the Introvert” running around Tumblr right now; maybe it’s running through Real Life too but I don’t have a life right now so I wouldn’t really know. Maybe you’ve heard of it. Basically, the gist is this: introverted people are creative, intelligent delicate little flowers who need their social phobias/awkwardness/whatever catered to and extroverts are all big, bullying, clueless, and desperate, like a needy dog that’s not housebroken. It is, of course, a crock of self-congratulatory bullshit likely penned and popularized by a literate (if angsty) teen with a romantic streak, but nevertheless the general concept has caught on like wildfire.
It’s naturally a defensive move on the part of the introvert to assume a position of righteousness, having had their own crosses to bear over the years. Extroverts are (by and large) the easily recognized, the leaders, the bold and the heroic, while introverts drag the stereotype of being weird shut-ins behind them. The positive attributes associated with introverts are the assumption of intelligence and that being quiet lends itself to an air of mystery.
I’m not certain if these assumptions have ever worked in my favor, because I’m a garrulous introvert. I can talk your ear off, be loud, make lewd jokes and challenge a stranger to a drinking game, but at the end of the day, I am an introvert. Every conversation I have I have to mentally prepare for. Every time I walk out the door and have to deal with people, it drains me, just a little. I could be perfectly content staying at home day in and day out, but that way lies madness and Repulsion-esque oddity. I force myself to interact, and when I do, I can put on my I-Am-A-Normal-Chatty-Person hat because I’m a writer and an actress and I can usually suss out how I’m supposed to function. Sometimes I try too hard. Some of my nastiest memories are of times when I was too loud or too tactless or too playful and I think “who is that coke-addled 8 year old who took me over?” because that right there is the line I sometimes cross.
I can be shy, too. It usually translates to seeming snobbery, but the truth is opposite – the people that I most desperately want to like me are the ones that I clam up to speak with, making awkward jokes that aren’t funny and quick retreats. And this is because I’m an introvert, not because I need to be catered to and “understood”. I mean, thank you extroverts if you want to take the time to understand how I work, but this expectation that introverts should be catered to automatically is just ridiculous. Work with what you’re good at. I honestly feel that some introverts are copping to recent awareness for people with Asperger’s and autism and trying to elevate their introversion accordingly, but people. PEOPLE. Stop being insulting and patronizing to people with Asperger’s and autism. You can be socially awkward without being diagnosed, for fuck’s sake. I’m sure there are some people running around who have never been diagnosed because God knows the medical industry can’t decide what’s what these days, but on the whole, I can’t tell you how often I’ve talked to people who claim to have a disorder only to have never been diagnosed by anyone with training and a degree. It’s like they read a blurb about ADHD on the back of a cereal box and decided “well, that sounds like me”. You know what else sounds like me every time I read it? Horoscopes. Is it real? PROBABLY NOT (…I hold out hope that I will meet my tall dark stranger this week, however).
In short, being an introvert is great, being an extrovert is great, but appropriating other people’s social anxiety/challenges because you like being special is a dick move, so cut it the fuck out. If you think you have a disorder, get it checked out, confirmed, whatever (or don’t. Your move). But don’t look down on extroverts from some golden throne because you think you might possibly sorta need to be coddled. And don’t be an asshole and then say “oh, I think I have ______”. Because that’s not an apology. That’s me wanting to hurt you.