In every job, there comes a day that I eternally avoid, all the while dreading its approach. Thoughts of budget meetings or annual reviews may jump to your mind, but those events don’t result in a state of restlessness and discomfort. Those wonderful emotions result from… team-building day.
Staff retreats and team-building days are usually events that employees look forward to; a “free” day of work, free lunch, and free entertainment. How could one go wrong with that?! Well, the answer to that my friends, lies in the mind of the participant.
Despite an extremely active social life in my early 20’s, I am an introvert through and through. Looking back, I can recall the mental drainage after social activities and my strong desire to be alone with my thoughts, my feelings, my questions. A beach day with girlfriends would never out-win a day reading a book alone, tucked in the corner of a library.
The problem with introversion is that you never know what’s in store for you as you age. No one will say, “Oh, by the way, you will be judged and outcast because you enjoy your own company and need alone time.” Clearly my parents forgot to sell that spiel of a lesson to me before I alarmingly slammed into the realities of being an adult introvert.
Mute. High-strung. Rude. Anti-social. Agoraphobic. Freak.
These are just a hand-full of the names and descriptions tossed around about introverts for years. All of these judgements come about because a person isn’t externally motivated or stimulated. Imagine a world where society judges extroverts for being loud, outgoing, mischievous, or co-dependent… would this ever occur?
In society’s eyes, introverts walk the fine line between introversion and anti-social behaviors. Our actions and behaviors won’t be accepted on the first round; expect to be questioned, pushed, and externally appraised. Our need for quiet, alone time transitions to perceived actions of a depressed, anti-social person. Our absence of small talk is apparently rude, or displaying a ‘higher than thou’ attitude. And our personal enjoyment of our own time, thoughts, and feelings is interpreted as freakish or fearful.
I hate to send society and their overreaching assumptions flat on their asses, but talk about really missing the mark on introverts.
I am an introvert, but I am not:
Mute – I simply don’t talk unless there is something to say; small talk is draining and uncomfortable. Not to mention, half of the things people say is boring me or nonsensical. Myself included, of course.
High-strung – This is your interpretation of my quiet personality; being focused on one’s work and self is not high-strung, it’s self-reflective and motivated.
Rude – Just because a person doesn’t join in on a group conversation, they are not rude. They are focused on settling into and working through their day.
Anti-social – I enjoy spending small batches of time with loved ones, but solitude and self-reflection are needed in my life to enjoy those interactions.
Agoraphobic – I leave the house all the time. Instead of heading to a mall and movie theater, I go to book stores and antique shops to imagine worlds beyond this one. It’s a difference of opinion and enjoyment, not a psychiatric condition.
Freak – Why, yes! It is quite freakish to be comfortable with yourself, your personality, and your own company. How could anyone ever want such self-acceptance?!