Calm down introverts: you don't have to act extroverted

Even though I've done a good job of hiding it, I'm more extroverted than introverted. In fact, I'd say I rarely get to express that aspect of my personality (a rant that I'll get into in another post), but when I do get a chance to act how I really am, ie, talkative and extroverted, I'm quite happy.

But sometimes I meet people who are *too* extroverted, like they're trying too hard to act that way. I really like talking to outgoing people, but the folks I'm talking about seem to try too hard. Sometimes those people will tell me that they're really introverted, and I say I'm surprised. But upon further reflection, I'm really not because they seem to be over-compensating for their introversion. It's the forced behavior that makes me become more quiet, and those faux-extroverts will ask me why I'm like that, or they might make some snide remark to someone--or even me--about my deficiencies.

More than once I've talked to people who go out of their way to be really talkative and cheerful...like *too* cheerful, and I'll pretty much clam up and not say much because I'm not into phony conversation. I really am excited about stuff, but I don't want to have to manufacture such an attitude to match their hyped-up one. So what's happened is they'll say something disparaging to a common acquaintance about me. Some people might be appalled I didn't say much, or I seem cold and distant. Well if they would just take a breather, then I would say something, but they seem to go on to the next thing and want me to follow along. Basically, I'm the real deal, they're not, and they seem to be so wrapped up in creating their extroverted persona that they don't bother to discern my true one. Or sometimes they'll ask questions and we'll "talk" but they'll be so hopped-up they'll over-ask or over-talk and I feel like we're not connecting. Which probably also annoys them. I just want to say, "Calm down...be who you are. Then I'll talk more and you won't be annoyed with my reaction."

On the other hand, I've talked to people who are truly outgoing and are energized by people. I had a job where I'd sometimes have to talk to salespeople and other talkative folks, and I had a fantastic time. It was much easier to talk to them because they were sincere in their communication and were ready to interact with the world. Since I'm basically the same but didn't have as much chance to show that side of my personality, I was ready to participate and I think they enjoyed my side of the conversation, too.

So here's some advice to introverts: use your analytical powers to judge people, then talk to them accordingly. I don't know about what other true extroverts think, but being hyper and over-talkative and aggressive does not impress me; it makes me clam up and wonder what's up with you. There is nothing wrong with introversion, unless you are socially inept and don't know how to have a conversation with someone. Then you need training. But talking a bunch because you think that's what you're supposed to do makes you seem oblivious to social rules, and the resulting judgement when I don't respond how you want makes you seem super small-minded.

A while ago I worked with someone who talked a lot and barely listened...he seemed to talk too much to the point where another more extroverted coworker asked if he was dull-witted, or what was going on. I just said, "He's introverted," and the coworker understood: overcompensation.

If you act like yourself, a lot of people would probably appreciate you. And you don't have to smile all the time either. Calm down. There are all kinds of people in the world, and the more mature of us appreciate diversity.


Are we supposed to play roles?

I've been reading the book Lonely, and it's made me wonder if we're expected, or if society is set up, for us to play roles as we get older. I think when we're in school and we have an outgoing or social personality, we naturally make friends who we can call or hang out with at random times. We don't need structure to connect with others because our interests and personalities help us to bond with them more organically.

But as we get older, most of us have to work to pay bills, and to advance in our careers, we have to navigate tiresome interactions that cut into spontaneity. Not everyone can be trusted because they have their own agenda or they're simply not good people. Or they could just be boring conformists.

Some people amazingly stay in touch with their school friends, so even if they're isolated in a new situation, they manage to have some type of social life that doesn't require them to be anything than who they are. There is so much movement and individualism in American society (the one I know best since I live here), that it's like people are putting up fences around themselves as they proceed on their own tracks. So crossover seems to occur in structured situations: work, kids' schools and activities, or groups people join.

There are many causes of loneliness (which I want to discuss in another post sometime), but one of them is the lack of connecting with people through natural interactions. If someone gets involved in an organization, it's easy to communicate with people through formal events or plans. But what would happen if the organization ceased to exist? Would those people want to hang out and even help each other? What about mothers who are in the suburbs raising kids and connect with other moms around them through sports, park programs, PTA, etc? When those kids grow up and move away, they won't have the kids' activities and goals to work within to connect to other parents. So their role is a mother, a working professional's role is entrenched in a socially inclined workplace, and another person is on the board of some group. Their roles are set, and they come with places they belong.

But is it possible to belong without having a formal title or role? I know only a few people who don't tie relationships to roles or responsibilities. They just like to connect with people and make an effort to communicate despite the context. But it seems most people expect pieces to be in place, and when a piece of the environment is gone, the cord is cut.

American society seems transient and temporary, which I think causes isolation and loneliness.


I'm back in language land

It's been almost 10 years since I've started this blog, and when I first started it, I was doing a lot with language: writing, editing, translating, reading...plus, I was an aspiring fiction writer and needed a space to express myself and my love of language.

Then a lot happened in my work life, and part of it consumed my mind to the point where I really didn't have the space or energy to write much here. Basically, I got interested in the radio biz when I met Rick Kogan, then eventually got some work in it about a year after that. Then the drama began, and I was trying to balance dealing with the challenges of the [not always nice] people and the business itself, which seems to be hanging by a thread (when you compare it to other media and entertainment outlets). Somehow I've managed to stay in the business for eight years, and recently achieved the seemingly impossible: I've been hired to write and edit at one of the top stations in the U.S.A.

Until recently, I'd been so focused on audio, though I did continue writing and editing for various businesses the whole time I was working in radio. Plus, my podcast was getting a lot more traction, so I focused more on that because it was satisfying to get positive reactions and lots of hits. (But this blog had gotten lots of hits too, especially before social media took my attention away as well.)

I just didn't have the headspace to think about language other than when I taught English as a Second Language (ESL) or used it at work.

But now that I have this unbelievable gig, it's totally reignited my love of language. I sit there wondering how I can make active verbs more effective than passive, and I just feel good because what I write goes on the air to millions of people within minutes. It's a satisfying writing experience.

I've even begun to read more because I feel more settled at a great station that seems to have no drama. It makes thinking off the clock easier and more accessible because I'm not wasting brain cells trying to figure out a survival strategy.

So I'm going to post here more often, and get into language enjoyment once again. And I still have more to say about my months-long absence, but it's time to eat something now :D