Monday, August 2, 2010

"Introvert Power" review

This book isn't specifically about dating, but I imagine a lot of singles have to deal with the "extrovert bias," as the author calls it.

This book is going to become one of the books that changes my life.

When "friends" of mine explain to me why they think I'm single, they often are speaking from an "extrovert bias," meaning extroversion=good/healthy while introversion=flawed/unhealthy. For example, "you need to put yourself out there more," "you need to meet more people," "you need to be more outgoing," "you need to talk more," "you need someone who'll pull you into the conversation." These criticisms go to the core of my being, and refer to qualities which I now realize I can't change.

I'm in dance class, a book club, a young adult group, a leadership group and I have been attending Theology on Tap sessions. I don't have a problem putting myself "out there." I have 200 facebook friends so it's not like I don't know people. I do talk in certain contexts. I don't need someone who'll pull me into a conversation I don't want to get into. How cruel is that? If I felt the need to speak, I would speak. What's wrong with observing, wanting to be left to your own thoughts and reflections?

After reading this, I now have answers to these criticisms. I don't know how many times I wrote "YES" on the margins while reading. I related to so much of what Helgoe was saying. And although I tend to have high self-esteem and love myself, I realized that many of the parts of myself that I thought I needed to "fix," don't need fixing. It's not that I think I'm perfect and flawless. However, I was internally beating myself up about some things, things which I couldn't change. I still bought into the extroverted bias, though I thought I was more independent and free-thinking than that.

Amongst other things, this book confirmed my desire to NOT use "singles events" for dating. I was right. Those sort of dating "network" events where you drink and mingle are NOT good for me, though some well-meaning friends might say that's just what I need. Why put myself in a position that makes me uncomfortable, that shuts me down, where I can't shine? Do I really want a super-outgoing, extroverted guy who knows how to function at those events anyway? Opposites do not always attract.

The funny thing is that many people don't believe it when I say I'm an introverted. According to Helgoe, I'm actually a "socially accessible introvert." I've learned to play the extrovert role, to fake it. Really, though, mingling, idle chat and meeting new people drain me. Big crowds overwhelm me. External busyness wears me out. Although my job requires me to work with people, I'm actually not energized by working with people. More often than not, sitting at home watching movies is more desirable to me than going to a big party.

So EVERY introvert needs to read this, even if you think you're "okay" with yourself. I'm sure you'll get something out of it. Although now I continue to wonder how I'm going to meet a guy who's compatible with my personality. Where do introverts go to socialize?...

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