Selective Introversion

I’m not weird. I’m normal. This is strange for me to say. And its discovery is magnificent news. I’ve spent the last several years thinking I was different. That I was an introvert. That for some reason, I didn’t like talking to people, and didn’t genuinely care to engage most people. That made me feel cold and distant, and weird. And so I was mostly quiet. And people would comment on my quietness. But what made it more weird was that they would comment on it not negatively, but curiously. And that reinforced my quietness. Because people seemed to be intrigued by it. So I went deeper into my “weirdness”. My “introvertedness”. Problem is, as of recently, I don’t want to be an introvert. I don’t want to stay in. I want to engage strangers. Entrepreneurs are supposed to reach out and connect. So a war began in my head. I attempted to shake off my introvertedness. But I couldn’t. I asked myself (and others), why am I so weird? How do you do it? At social events, I say a couple words, but otherwise stay to myself.

But I realized today, that I am not weird. I am normal. My social experiences just been biased. Biased towards people I’m not interested in. I grew up in a religious family, but several years ago, completely renounced my religion it for a more agnostic worldview. In that process, I lost interest in any of my friends associated with that religion. Conversations would mean conflict. So I avoided any old friends. And the result was that I had very little friends left. Even my own parents I sometimes feel alienated from. This experience reduced my social network from hundreds of friends to just a handful. So the amount of social interaction immediately went down, causing me to feel, in the long run, “introverted”.

Recently, most of my social activity has been in fact my wife’s social activity. I go with her to her friends’ and family functions. These are also people I am not very interested in, as they are not my people, nor do we have anything remotely in common. These experiences have again been biased towards being uninteresting. I had thought that I was at fault for not being talkative, that I was weird, that something was wrong with me. But in fact I am not weird. I am normal. My social experiences have just been biased.

Because there are people I can talk to for hours. But these people I can count on one hand. I’m not an introvert around them. And there are people I know I could meet that I could talk to for hours, and that I would not be an introvert around.

All this time, I thought I was an introvert, and that I was doomed if I wanted to fix it. But I am not an introvert. Nor am I an extrovert. I am normal. And to people that are interesting, open-minded, and challenging, I can talk to for hours. To people that are not, I cannot for the life of me feign interest. And that doesn’t make me an introvert. Selfish maybe, but not an introvert, and not weird.

I am normal, just like you. And this is the most joyous news I’ve heard in years.

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