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An Introvert’s Language

I’ve known for quite a while that I’m an introvert, probably since I was first “diagnosed” as an INTJ. After reading more about INTJs and giving it some thought, it made perfect sense — it really accurately described me.

So I was excited to learn of a book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. This book was very helpful in understanding introversion and becoming more comfortable in a world that seems designed for extroverts. But I recently came across a simple table that I thought really portrayed what an introvert is all about.

WORD Extrovert’s Definition Introvert’s Definition
Alone, adj. Lonely. Enjoying some peace and quiet.
Book, n. 1) Doorstop.
2) Paperweight.
1) Source of comfort.
2)Safe and inexpensive method of traveling, having adventures, and meeting interesting people.
Bored, adj. Not frantically busy. Stuck making small talk, and unable to escape politely.
Extrovert, n. A nice, normal, sociable person. Never surprises you with anything weird. A boisterous person who may be very nice, but who is somewhat exhausting to spend time with. Usually not too deep, but fun.
Free time, n. A time when you do group activities. (See Introvert’s Definition of “work.”) A time when you read without interruption until you’re in danger of going blind.
Friend, n. Someone who makes sure that you’re never alone. Someone who understands that you’re not rejecting them when you need to be alone.
Good manners, n. Making sure people aren’t left all by themselves. Filling in any silences in a conversation. Not bothering people, unless it’s necessary, or they approach you. (Sometimes you can bother people you know well, but make sure they aren’t busy first.)
Home, n. A place to invite everybody you know. A place to hide from everybody you know.
Internet, n. 1) Another medium for advertising.
2) A place where geeks with no life hang out.
A way to meet other introverts. You don’t have to go out, and writing allows you to think before just blurting something out.
Introvert, n. One of those who like to read. Moody loners. Be careful not to tick them off; some of them are serial killers. One who shows a perfectly natural restraint and caution when meeting new people. One who appreciates solitude. Often, one who enjoys reading and has a philosophical turn of mind.
Love, n. Never having to do anything alone. Being understood and appreciated.
Music, n. Background noise. Something with a tune and lyrics which may be moving and intelligent, or may be drivel.
Phone, n. Lifeline to other people – your reason for living. Necessary (?) evil, and yet another interruption. Occasionally useful (such as for texting or emailing), but mostly a nuisance.
Reading, v. A chore that a teacher makes you do when you’re a kid. You have to do it in secret and pretend you don’t really do it, or people think you’re strange.
Shell, n. Something you find on the beach. What people relentlessly nag you to come out of. Why do you have to leave it, if you’re happy there?
To go out, v. Requires at least two people, and the more the better. Constant chatter, loud music, sports, crowds, and food consumption are all fun components of going out. Can be done alone or with others. Enjoyable if there’s some point to it; i.e., in order to see a band, a movie, a play, or perhaps to have a stimulating discussion with one or two close friends.
Work, n. Having to read, write, listen, or concentrate on anything. Being pestered every five minutes about something trivial, and not allowed to concentrate.

This table was helpful, not only to explain how I think and click, but also to understand how extroverts think and click. It also pointed out the irony that while extroverts may be of the opinion that introverts are strange, introverts are quietly thinking the same thing of extroverts…

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