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December 20, 2014

Am I Being an Introvert or Just a Narcissistic A**hole?

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Being an introvert is kind of the “in” thing right now.

There is no end to the quizzes we can take that prove our various degrees of introverted-ness. I jumped right onto that bandwagon.

Proof positive: I hate talking on the phone, I dislike large crowds of strangers, I recharge by being alone, I tend to befriend the cats and dogs at a party before I know any human’s name…

As the craziness of the holiday season wore on (let’s be real, I think it now extends from January 1-December 31), I found myself isolating more and more.

Every time I went out, I ran into someone who proved to me that people were absolutely rotten and that I should hide on my farm. Forever. A man yelled obscenities at me in a drive-through line. The cashier at the grocery store was snotty. The gym was so crowded. The traffic…just, ugh.

So, for a while, I isolated myself. And it was fantastic. I decided I didn’t even really want to hang around with my friends. I dreaded the minute the buses arrived to bring the kids home from school, because it would disturb my quiet.

I quickly went from being an introvert who appreciated alone time, to being a completely narcissistic asshole.

By narcissistic asshole, I mean that I became a person who only cared about my own comfort and was irritated by any less-than-perfect human with whom I came into contact.

But guess what?

A. Humans are less-than-perfect, generally speaking. (Except, apparently, Beyonce.)
B. I am the least perfect of them all.

Humankind is a big, heaping, steaming mass of messiness, love, beauty, passion, violence, kindness, rage, mistakes and foibles. Because of our ability to reason, we can make mash of relationships. Or we can create meaning where none previously existed. We can make other people feel like the worst being that ever existed, or we can show someone their innate, precious worth.

It’s all in how we choose to look at the world and relate to our fellow life passengers. This is a choice, and one I must make every day. Most days, I have to purposefully choose to think about people positively or I spiral into being a cynical jerk.

The man who yelled at me in line…I wonder what kind of horrible week he was having that would cause him to scream at a stranger?

That crowded gym…is everyone else having the same panic attack about holiday calories?

My kids chatting my ear completely off after school…wow, I have three teen girls that love nothing more than to share their lives with me. How lucky am I?

When I was young and naive, my life quote was, “I want to affect people and be affected by people.” I happily announced that whether people were good, bad, happy or sad, I wanted their lives to affect and direct my own. Getting older jaded me a bit. I didn’t want to be on everyone’s emotional roller coaster any more.

But, there’s something to be said about the naiveté and positive outlook of youth. It allows for human-ness. It allows people to make mistakes and be unkind, while trying to understand their perspective. In my quest to prove my introverted-ness, I lost touch with the girl who cared about people’s lives.

And so, today, I will stop being a narcissistic asshole, just for a minute. I will ask for, and listen to, people’s stories. I will seek to understand before seeking to be understood. And if that works for this minute, I’ll try it for another, then another…until all that’s left of my introverted personality is the tendency to befriend animals. Let’s be real, animals are awesome. Excuse me while I go watch some kitten videos and get ready to face the world.

 

Relephant:

Introverts: A Field Guide.

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Author: Deborah Linne

Editor: Travis May

Photo: Flickr/Betsssssy

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Deborah Linne