On The Inside ...
He opened the piece thusly: "Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk?"
I raised my hand.
Quiet conversations about feelings and ideas? Check.
Dynamite presentation to a big audience? Check. Check.
Maladroit at small talk? Check! Check! Check! Check! Check!
Actually, I wouldn't classify myself as maladroit at small talk, but I could surely do without it. I'd much rather talk late into the night with one person – a fellow introvert, no doubt – than make a few minutes of inane chitchat with a group.
Because introverts understand each other.
"We tend to think before talking," wrote Rauch. Precisely. People have assumed the worst about my momentary silences in conversations. No, I am not judging them for what they just said. (Not most of the time, anyway.) More than likely, I'm just formulating what I next want to say. Give me a second to collect my thoughts. It's part of how I communicate. Women are expected to be talkative, apparently. The "strong, silent type" works well for men, but as Rauch wrote, "... introverted women ... are even more likely than men to be perceived as timid, withdrawn, haughty."
The fact that I am introverted is well known to me. I have taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator many times.
"Seek meaning and connection in ideas, relationships, and material possessions. Want to understand what motivates people and are insightful about others. Conscientious and committed to their firm values. Develop a clear vision about how best to serve the common good. Organized and decisive in implementing their vision."
So, kindly allow me my occasional conversational pauses. And don't take offense if I decline your offer to go out with a big group. And please know that those New Year's Eve parties with a 1,000 people in a hotel ballroom are my idea of hell. I'd much rather be at home on my couch, eating Chinese food and watching Woody Allen movies, than drinking knock-off Champagne in a loud roomful of strangers and shaking mylar confetti out of my hair.
So to all of my extroverted friends, I say: Go out! Have a good time! Me and a few other introverts are going to stay in instead with olives and cheese and a bottle of wine.