About Me

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Pacific Northwest, United States
I am The Shytrovert a proud, moderately shy INFP and this is my blog. I write about society, relationships, current events and how shy and introverted folks can cope in an extroverted world.


I Got Your Personality Right Here!

I Got Your Personality Right Here!

One thing I truly resent about extroverts or more outgoing folk is their tendency to believe that shy, introverted, or quiet people (shytroverts) have no “personality,” as if we were aliens walking around on Earth without souls or something. If being boisterous loud mouth making a spectacle of myself trying to hog the limelight means I have no personality, OK. I guess I don’t. But let’s bring it back to reality. According to Webster’s here’s the definition of personality a: the quality or state of being a person b: personal existence. For you nitpickers it can mean having charisma as well, but the first definition is simply BEING A HUMAN. And Shytroverts definitely fall under that category, like it or not. We’ve also got personality in the sense you mean, you’re just not likely to see it unless you get the privilege of being our friend. That’s because Shytroverts rarely show their whole selves to total strangers or people they don’t know well. So for the love of all that’s holy, stop saying we don’t have a personality and we’ll stop saying you’re a shallow, empty headed loud mouth. Truce?


Are Introverts Nuts?

That’s the question business communication coach Nancy Ancowitz asks in a recent Psychology Today article. Apparently The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is considering including introversion as a criteria for diagnosing mental disorders in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—commonly known as the DSM-5.

I think I speak for all introverts when I say weren’t not nuts, but those DSM-5 bastards sure are. Here’s what they define as introversion:

‘Withdrawal from other people, ranging from intimate relationships to the world at large; restricted affective experience and expression; limited hedonic capacity.’ Additionally, this definition includes ‘deficit in the capacity to feel pleasure or take interest in things.’

Ancowitz is concerned – as we all should be – that the stigma introverts already experience in society will only be exacerbated, especially in the workplace. To put it all in perspective she spoke with Laurie Helgoe, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and author of Introvert Power who said:

‘If an introvert is clinically depressed, that’s a problem. If an introvert is debilitated by anxiety, that is a problem... But if an introvert is simply an introvert, please don’t render that person ill. We are talking half the population here!’

I couldn’t have said it better. Stupid ass APA. Who’s running that? A bunch of extroverts? Geesh.

I’m OK, You’re OK, We’re all OK, OK?

For extroverts who derive their self esteem from constant social stroking, the shytrovert is a hated foil. We make them feel uncomfortable, and they’re not used to feeling discomfort in the company of others, so they lash out at us.  We’re wrong, flawed, conceited, aloof, cold,  unfriendly, and so on.  WRONG.  It occurs to me that only a jackass could hate a meek soul who is doing nothing but keeping to his or herself. Besides, science – and "Ask Alice" – have clearly stated that there are a many positive aspects to being a shytrovert: “Recently…scientists have identified positive aspects of shyness [and introversion]. For example, shy [and introverted] people tend to be good listeners and observers, and are more likely to think before they speak.” Not to mention our inborn cautiousness in new situations has served as a survival mechanism for millenia.  In other words, we don’t rush in where angels fear to tread, and therefore we don’t get killed off as much.  Hey, could that be the reason nature has allowed more extroverts to be born? Hmn...  *thoughtfully puts index finger on chin*


The Power of Politeness

Being shy and introverted is tough. Sometimes it’s all you can do to propel yourself out of the house, let alone endure those annoying extroverts who insist you snap in line and behave more like them. Not only does their constant socializing and talking drive you mad, but it goes so much against your grain – like Mother Theresa slapping an orphan. However, there’s one thing you MUST do at a minimum if you want to improve your social comfort: be polite. Learn what politeness looks like, speaks like, and moves like. From a kind attitude comes empathy, kind words, and kind actions.By learning to be more polite, you will help mitigate any negative attitudes that more outgoing people have toward you.

Also, know that you’re not being polite merely by virtue of not being an asshole and sitting quietly in a corner. To extroverts, if you don’t talk you’re rude by default. So learn to say hello with a big smile. Yes, you will feel like the biggest phony actor of all time, but no one else will know you’re faking it. Like I said in my previous post, you just need to talk!

I know you’ve been hearing this all your life. The difference is, those clueless people never told you what to talk about. So what should you talk about? It doesn't matter. Your talk can consist of anything from brief comments, uh-huhn’s, or even questions - anything really; you just need to demonstrate that you're present and paying attention. Even if what you say is a throwaway, people will remember that you said something and that simple act will demonstrate to others that you’re friendly and approachable.

Remember: you don’t have to impress anybody or say anything profound. Most people will not remember the precise content of your words, anyway. As you may have also heard, most people are too busy thinking about themselves! I know this is true because I have been practicing these very techniques in my life. Are you skeptical? Let's discuss.

Tough Love for the Shy

In my abject desperation to overcome my poor social skills I have read many books over the years, and I can tell you this, none has opened my eyes more or helped me more in the last few weeks than the e-book The Popular Club. It’s like the Skinny Bitch of social anxiety books. I highly recommend it for those looking to improve their schmooze-factor. A caveat: the language is pretty abusive. You will be called a loser, told that being an extrovert is unequivocally better than being an introvert, that being fat will screw you socially in a big way, and that you will need to conform, period. On the upside, it gives you a valuable glimpse into the world of extroverts to confirm what you've always suspected – their banter is often quite vapid, the content of what is said is frequently irrelevant, and all that matters is talking, so stop thinking about what you’re going to say ('cause only losers do that).

The Real World Test

After devouring The Popular Club e-book as if it was my last supper, I went out with my significant other's friends and just started talking, secure in the knowledge that as long as I was, nobody would zero in on me for being too quiet, and that what I said, even if it was stupid, would be quickly forgotten. For perhaps the first time in my life, a social encounter went exactly as I wanted it to. The suggestions in the e-book actually worked, people. And no, non-stop gibber jabber is not necessary, but contribution certainly is. All you need do to be in the game is to augh audibly along with the group, throw in a few yeahs, I think so toos or any commentary, smile a lot, and you’re good. People will actually LIKE YOU JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE CONTRIBUTING TO THE CONVERSATION. Holy cow! Where was this dude when I was in high school? So, The Popular Club – essential reading for Shytroverts.

I'm So Quiet? We'll You're So Rude!

GRRRR!!! If there’s anything that gets under a shytrovert’s skin more it’s the phrase “you’re so quiet” or its equally annoying variant, “why are you so quiet?” I mean seriously! Not only are these questions rude, but they’re like asking someone “why are you so red headed?” or “why are you so black/white/Asian?” The horror of this is there never seems to be a decent enough comeback at the ready (shytroverts don’t think quickly on their feet and would be too afraid of sounding harsh even if they could). Luckily, what we lack in quickness as shytroverts we make up for with the introverted skill of reflection and writing ability. Using mine, I came up with a list of one-liners ranging from mild to spicy that I can toss out at the rude and clueless (extroverts). One-liners with asterisks have been real-world tested by yours truly.

1. It’s my ninja training: old habits die hard.

2. I was sent to Earth to observe.*

3. Well, somebody has to be the designated listener!

4. It’s easier to hear myself think.

5. I guess the cat got my tongue; I’m still waiting to get it back.

6. Oh, do you really think so? I’ve been practicing so hard!

7. Keep talking, I'm writing a book.*

8. I'm plotting a world-wide take over*

9. I don’t like to question God’s wisdom on such matters.

10. That’s very astute of you!

11. I am? Thanks for pointing that out!

12. Wow! Sherlock Holmes has nothing on you!

13. Nothing gets past you, does it?

14. That’s a conundrum wrapped in a riddle and dipped in an enigma.

15. Must be a good reason; God doesn’t make mistakes.

16. I read somewhere that about 30% of all people are quiet.

17. When I figure it out, I’ll get back to you.

18. Are you serious?

19. What do you mean, quiet?

20. Care to elaborate?

21. I am? Please, tell me how I can change!

22. If my shrink couldn’t figure it out, I’m sure I don’t know!

23. I'm saving my voice for primal scream week. Oh, you never heard of it?

24. I have a rare condition called introvertstendtobequietitis.

25. Why do you have blue/brown/gray/green eyes/ten digits/two ears?

Now it’s your turn. Let me know what you think. Do you have some zingers or comebacks to share that you’ve either used or want to use?