7:00 am EEST (GMT+3). This is the June 17 2020 daily proof of life post. Today’s big announcement is that I’m no longer apologizing for being an introvert. I’m not seeing any benefit to making other people comfortable with who I am.
I was always the quiet kid. It wasn’t that I lacked social skills, or didn’t know how to make friends. I’d rather be reading, or drawing, or making something than running amok with other kids. As an adult, I’m still quiet. You’re more likely to find me sitting off to one side, listening to other people talk, than engaging in conversation. I’ll gravitate to people that I know, rather than mingling.
There have been moments, personally and professionally, where I was more outgoing. Those were typically situations where I had a support system around me. I felt safe, and comfortable. Other times I was compelled to lead, because I believed in a causes. That doesn’t mean that interacting with people wasn’t exhausting. It was just where I chose to put my energy.
I’m Not Angry
For this relatively benign behavior, I have always been given labels. Men who aren’t smiling are automatically coded as angry. I’m not angry all the time. Sometimes I’m just lost in thought. A lot of the time I’m perfectly content, but my face doesn’t feel the need to share that with the world. Also, that’s what my face looks like.
But I get called antisocial. Unfriendly. Standoffish. Unapproachable. Curmudgeonly, grumpy, mean. I have, in the past, been marked down on performance reviews not for the quantity or quality of my work, but because I wasn’t “making the effort” to be cheerful and outgoing to coworkers. Even when that had no bearing on getting my work done.
Telling an introvert to be more outgoing is like telling a woman she needs to smile more. It’s not about a desire to cheer that person up, or make them happier. It’s about you wanting to be comfortable. As if it’s our job to assure you that everything is okay. We somehow bear a greater onus to be likable. Introverts owe you nothing. I am an introvert, I am comfortable in my own skin, and I’m not going to apologize for that any more.