Tuesday, December 16, 2008

No, I most certainly am not shy . . . .

but I am an introvert.

I have tried and tried to explain to friends the difference between being an introvert and being shy, but people who are not introverts just don't really seem to hear what I'm saying, possibly because I'm not saying it well. But, one thing for sure, they just don't get it.

A friend, bless his heart, sent me this article which just about says it all.


Many times, I've said I'd like to write about this subject, but I don't think I can say it all as well (and for sure not as succinctly, as this article does!), so I'm just going to toss it out here and see what you guys think and have to say about it.

I'm guessing there are probably a lot of you who join me in this condition. There are, of course, many different levels of introversion - from mild to off the scale. Depending on where someone falls on this scale, most of us are not, after all, totally socially inept. We do fare better socially if we're able to control, to some extent, our social environments, i.e., where they occur, when, and with whom. Pretty impossible to control all those things, so perhaps that's why a lot of us blog.

And is it why some of us who can't imagine enjoying ourselves in a big crowd of people love attending the mystery conventions that I know many of you attend, and which I've recently discovered an addiction to?

what do you think??


Anonymous said...

My friend Muriel pegged it when she said, "An extrovert is someone who gains energy by being with other people. An introvert is someone who expends energy by being with other people."

pattinase (abbott) said...

I am an extrovert with the exception that I am not able to walk up to people and introduce myself. I assume they have no interest in meeting me. So I am the worst at conferences. I went to Bouchercon and missed may opportunities because I could not do that. Too bad.

mybillcrider said...

Ditto, Patti. I don't mind at all speaking in front of thousands, but I'm terrible at meeting people and in small groups.

The Stiletto Gang said...

I guess I'm an introvert. I've been called shy - but like Kaye, I don't think I'm shy. My mom once describd me as "reserved." That's probably a closer description. I don't mingle well at all. I can speak to a group about a topic I'm interested in without a second thought. I loved "debate" in college. But make me take a cup of punch, balance a small plate on a napkin, and make small talk to complete strangers about random topics ... just shoot me and put me out of my misery.

aka the Southern Half of Evelyn David

Neil Plakcy said...

Very interesting. I think I'm a mix of both; I do enjoy being out with people and chatting, though I don't like going up and introducing myself. And I also need time on my own to recharge, to read and think.
My partner, on the other hand, would be happy living in a cave by himself, as long as he had satellite TV, food delivery, and a comfy couch.

Unknown said...

But I think we change as we grow older. It took me until in my 40s to
"get over" by shyness. When we took a test on personality, people couldn't believe I was an introvert,
but while I'm not as introverted as I once was, but I still need peace and solitude to process.

Anonymous said...

I'm cursed with being both introverted AND painfully shy. And yes, there's a big difference between the two. Conferences exhaust me, not because I don't have fun but because dealing with other people constantly requires a tremendous effort. I don't mind being on a panel at all. I think the real me is floating somewhere up around the ceiling light fixture while The Public Me is onstage. Panels are fun. But I'm terribly shy in one-on-one encounters. When I have one of my favorite writers sign a book, I'm so tongue-tied that all I can get out is "Yes, please personalize it." By the time I leave for home, I'm totally worn out!

Anonymous said...

I'm a definite introvert--I need quiet time for thinking and renewing energy, but I love being around people for short bursts of time. On the other hand, I'm definitely not shy--even though I was very shy as a child. My father gave me a good piece of advice which has stood me in good stead for many years. "Always call everybody by name: The sweetest sound anyone can hear is their own name." I've found that adding a sincere compliment just after the name puts a smile on the face.

caryn said...

I love Sharon's description. That's me. I like people, I like talking with people, but it's taxing for me. After a while I need to be alone. And it's not just strangers or social settings. Holidays, when lots of family is home and around all of the time is draining. I love them to death, but I find that after awhile wht I want to do is take a book and sneak off to a room by myself and read. The cats ALWAYS follow-but not the dogs. Nope, the dogs are party animals until the last soul has left or gone to bed.
Caryn in St. Louis

Donna said...

I'm like Patti - I assume no one will want to meet me and therefore never go up and introduce myself. But I LOVE talking to people, and love Bouchercon/LCC type things. I hate being the centre of attention though so tend to be relatively quiet in big groups. Besides, listening to others talking is fun and I am interested in people and like finding out things about them. Everyone else is so much more fascinating than me :o)

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

We have one dear soul who I love to pieces who sent me a note rather than posting here, and in her note she said she's guessing that she and I were probably just alike in our Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (which she JUST took last week).

And she is right on the money about it. We are both INFJ people. My indicators are pretty much in the center though - less than 30 in the preference strengths.

In case some of you are not familiar with Myers-Briggs, -

The "I" is for Introversion as opposed to Extraversion.

"N" for Intuitive rather than Sensing.

"F" for Feeling rather than Thinking.

and "J" for Judging rather than Perception. Judging in this case means we like a planned, orderly way of life better than a flexible, spontaneous way - which surprises me a little 'cause I always thought of myself as more spontaneous. Like Doris Ann - I've spotted some changes as I get older.

Molly - I love this about calling people by name. Very true though, isn't it?

Funny, isn't it,how many different forms of introversion we're seeing here? I so admire you people who can stand up in front of a large group of people and speak! The very thought makes me tremble.

Patti? This is so understandable. I know it sounds like I had no trouble meeting people in Baltimore, but the truth is that most of the people I did meet there were people I actually already knew a little bit from forums like DorothyL or other sites - that made it so much easier. OR - through an introduction.

Most of us seem to dearly need that quiet time, don't we?! and truth be told - Neil, as I get older the more like your partner I'm becoming.

Anonymous said...

An introvert is someone who is seriously using his/her time wisely and has no or low tolerance for bull-swallop, a nicer word than bullshit. Hemmingway say everyone needs a built in bullshit detector, and I think most introverts have this "built in" whereas many a shy person does not. Shyness is painful, a kind of "disease" and can be terribly extreme, whereas most reclusives or true introverts value time along with themselves, time to contemplate, do research, read, write, sculpt or whatever excites a person who is not afraid of alone time with himself. At least that's my quick answer.

Rob Walker

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Rob - I agree - we DO value our time with ourselves. Alone time is rare and cherished isn't it? Not to mean we don't cherish our families, but a little bit of time alone seems to rejuvenate me, whereas a lot of time with people around does, as Sharon's friend Muriel says, "expend energy."

Rhonda? You made me laugh. I feel the same way you do. I think maybe I just don't "get" small talk. And its not that I don't like people - I do. Especially if they're smart, funny, creative people.

Sandy, I admire you tremendously. If you're able to step through the shyness that you're describing to sit on a panel in front of a whole bunch of strangers, you are a very brave and strong woman. I love your description about feeling as though the real you is floating above it all, while your public self is on stage. Sounds as though you have found a way to do the things you need to do to promote your work, and I applaud you for doing it.

Caryn - what is it about our pups needing to be party animals??! That made me laugh. I can always count on Harley to keep up social obligations while I sneak into the bedroom for a little bit of reading time to recharge those batteries.

Now, y'all - I'm not exactly sure which Donna this is who has posted that she always assumes everyone is much more interesting than she is. If its who I think it is talking here, I can only say PFFTT! The Donna I'm thinking of is one extremely charming woman who is adorable and lovely to be around, and actually - join Mr. Crider in the ability to make others feel comfortable and at ease.

B.G. Ritts said...

Another INTJ here, although my T could sneak into the F range as it's always next to the borderline. But my introversion is so far into the range, I'll never be rescued. Acutally, I don't want to be because I like my solitude. About a dozen years ago, a member of my Lions Club, who had just celebrated his 50th anniversary, asked me why I had never married. I told him I saw no reason in making two people miserable.

I always enjoy good discussions in small groups, but I could easily become a hermit without a second thought. I keep involved in a few community groups just to prevent the temptation.

Vicki Lane said...

Good article, Kaye! Thanks for the link.

I'm definitely in the introvert camp -- possibly part of why I live at the end of a four wheel drive road that stops all but the most determined Jehovah's Witnesses.

But somewhat to my surprise, I've found that I love meeting readers--we almost always have something to talk about. And on my daily blog, I've made lots of friends with similar interests -- country living, gardening, animals, books, cooking . . .

Like Patti and Donna, however, I really balk at walking up to strangers and introducing myself. Irrational, I know, as I'm delighted when folks do it to me.

Anonymous said...


Gads, gal, you ask tough questions.
Now you've got me wondering what I am. Addressing large groups, up to 8,000, have never been a problem because I've always been there in some official capacity; had something specific to do and say.

Now, put me in a room, sans agenda, with people I don't know, and I'm thinking, 'Okay, what now? Why am I here?

I do not possess whatever it takes to "work a room." of strangers. Let me stand in the corner and watch, listen, and be polite to anyone who is bored enough to seek me out.

Introvert? Shy? Extrovert? I am what I am and have learned to live with it. I'm certain there are experts who could figure out my problem, that is, assuming I have one.

Some wise guy once said that he who is all things to all people is nothing to himself.
Bo Parker

Anonymous said...

Introversion, is it? Gosh, all this time I thought I was a hormonal sociopath. :-)

Earl Staggs said...

Kaye Darlin', you have drawn me out. I am definitely an introvert. Shy? Not in the least. I enjoy being with and interacting with other people (especially other writers), but only if there's a reason to do so. I have no problem introducing myself to other people or speaking to a group. As a matter of fact, I love it. Still, I absolutely must have my alone, thinking time. Nothing bores me more that those people who apparently feel if two people are within hearing distance of each other, there MUST be conversation, however meaningless. I want to say to them, "Shut up and think. And don't tell me what you're thinking. After you've thought it out, boil it down to the important points, if there are any, then tell me." My most treasured quiet time is commuting back and forth to work. I don't even play the car radio. That's my thinking/planning/recharging time.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Hey Guys - Good Morning!

BG - You know what - you may have hit on a reason why its tough for some people to stay in a relationship. For real! We think all sorts of things about that in some of our friends and make excuses - but does "oh, she/he is an introvert" ever enter into it in our minds? Not in mine, but I gotta say - it does make perfect sense. We introverts need special handling, just like the article I linked points out. Smart Cookie, you are!

Vicki - If the rest of us lived in that perfect slice of heaven you're lucky enough to claim as home, we could care less about the rest of world, I do believe. Y'all? For a glimpse into Vicki's paradise, do check out her blog 'cause sometimes she gives us pictures that make me cry. Beautiful. Serene. Peaceful. But topped off with some of the happiest and cutest four-legged critters on God's green earth! -

Bo - Why you Ol' Cobbler - Problems? You?! No Way!!! And if you did, you'd write them away with your very own unique way of sharing of words. Wonder who that quote belongs to? I like it!

Suzanne - thanks, girl for the coffee through the nose moment so early this morning!! too funny.

Earl Darlin'! Hey! Now you have brought up a point that I meant to bring up myself.
The radio in the car. The TV. Most people, I think, automatically turn these on. Its just part of the daily routines. Recently, however, on DorothyL, we had a host of people who crave ownership of a little tool that will zap off TVs in waiting rooms. At least one person admitted to just unplugging the thing in a hospital waiting room, where it took 3 days before it was discovered. We introverts don't react well to all that background noise, while the rest of the world (about 75% of the world, I've been told) enjoys and welcomes it. Don't y'all find that to be interesting??

Anonymous said...

Very interesting article, Kaye. I'm a bit of both (ex and in) in that although I moan and gripe about having to attend a social function, I generally enjoy myself thoroughly once I've drug myself there. However, this phrase in the article explains how I often feel ("many introverts, when socializing, feel like actors"). Apparently I enjoy 'acting' occasionally. :)

Despite all that, however, I MUST have my alone time to recharge. Being 'on' is very draining. And, no, most of my friends do not understand my need to have alone time, especially, gasp! the desire to go out to eat alone, with a book.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for explaining me to myself. An introvert. When I've occasionally said "I'm shy" the disbelief around me was incredible. I can talk easily about writing, and "important" things, but I consider "small talk" and the bull shit many males chatter at each other upon meeting, simply air-filling garbage. I can't manage small talk and, partly for that reason, avoid large gatherings when it's socially possible for me to do so. Not only that, a couple of hours of TV (even PBS, the only channel we watch) is plenty. Then I want quiet.

I've been to both Bouchercon and Malice...once for each. I love the smaller cons where everyone is a friend and look forward to attending three or more each year if time and money allow. However, I felt like a caterpillar caught in the middle of a street in downtown Chicago at both the biggies and thought while there that I'd never go back. LCC in El Paso was easier, maybe because of the way it was arranged, and because it isn't as huge as the others.

Dunno. Anyway, Rauch called it. I'm glad to know I am an introvert. In fact, I LIKE being an introvert.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Hey Deborah!
Hey Radine!

Thanks for dropping by!

LOVE the thoughts about feeling like an actress, Deborah! Have you noticed how some people really do seem to just light up when they're in a crowd? I love that.

Radine? Isn't it refreshing to now know you don't have to stay stuck with a title that you KNEW didn't fit, but just didn't quite know what might?!!! Shy. See there. You never ever have to settle with that word again, 'cause it is not you. and I'm so with you about small talk. I just don't seem to "get" small talk. A

I'm loving this discussion.

Someone wrote and asked me why I wrote this:
"And is it why some of us who can't imagine enjoying ourselves in a big crowd of people love attending the mystery conventions that I know many of you attend, and which I've recently discovered an addiction to?"

Well. I wrote it because my thoughts were that one of the reasons some of us who are introverts and normally not do well in large crowds enjoy mystery conventions. I'm thinking that's because its a huge crowd of folks, for sure, but a large percentage of whom are introverts - so maybe we're just attracted to these conventions 'cause we know we'll be surrounded by folks just like us who are going to feel ill at ease some of the time. Are going to disappear to their rooms often to have some quiet time and recharge. Are going to meet people with whom we'll feel an instant connection. Maybe??