“You Need To Come Out of Your Shell”

I loathe this sentence with every fiber of my being. I wish sentences could die. I realize that’s a bit dramatic but seriously, y’all, this is probably the most insulting thing someone can say to an introvert. You may have said it to someone not realizing what it implies.

Here’s what you think you’re saying:
I want to get to know you better and see the beautiful person you are and love you as you are because I know that if I could just get to the real you I would be so impressed by how lovely you are.

Here’s what you’re actually saying:
Who you are isn’t good enough for me. I need you to start acting like everybody else so I’ll know how to deal with you. I can’t get a read on you and that’s making me uncomfortable so if you could just pretend to be “normal” like the rest of us for a while that’d be great. Okay? Thanks.

This statement implies that the way I am is just an exterior, something to be broken through, conquered. I’m only pretending to be that way and I’m just not showing you the “real” me. I really am just like everybody else, I’m just hiding it from you. The truth is, and this is going to come as a surprise to a lot of people, this is me. Is everyone still with me?

Well, I’m going to let you in on some more secrets: I’m happy doing things on my own sometimes. I don’t feel the need to talk to people all the time. Just because I’m alone does not mean that I’m lonely and there’s something wrong with me.

The world expects people to be social 23.5 hours out of the day. If you’re not chitchatting or texting or instant messaging all the time, you’re just not normal. The world values extroversion far above introversion. There have been entire books written on the subject. If you’re an introvert, you’re expected to pretend to be an extrovert. It’s the only way to survive on the job, on the dating scene, on the social scene. People just can’t accept that someone might approach things differently. Hence the shell comment and others like it.

Introverts aren’t necessarily unapproachable and antisocial. I’m not. I consider myself very pleasant to have a conversation with. But just because I didn’t tell you my life story in the first five minutes doesn’t mean I’m hiding the real me behind a shell. I just do things differently than you do and implying that I’m wrong and I need to change is just plain rude.

Sometimes, I just don’t have anything to say. And that’s okay.

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