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

Deborah Linne is an avid reader, writer, horsewoman and adventurer.  When she isn’t outside puttering around her farm and caring for 4 children, 14 chickens, 3 horses, 2 dogs and 2 cats,  her nose is firmly planted in a book of poetry or fiction.  She is passionate about finding the sacred in the most simple of places.

Comments

7 Responses to “Am I Being an Introvert or Just a Narcissistic A**hole?”

  1. angela says:

    I think this probably has more to do with being anti-social. There's lots of common misconceptions regarding what introverted really means and in the West we live in societies which are very much catered to and geared toward extroverts, and introverts are seen as having something wrong with them.

    As an introvert in the true sense of the word, and married another introvert, I don't dislike being around people at all. Not one little bit. It's just that I'd prefer smaller groups, and not loud, over the top parties and so on. And afterwards I'd rather be alone with my husband to quietly read together. We are often harassed by varying family members and friends because we don't want to come to a really large event – I mean harassed until we attend something which not only makes us uncomfortable but we really didn't want to attend at all – emails, letters of concern, endless phone calls. I feel it would be a bit absurd for me to invite a family member to come over and read quietly with me, and if they said no they'd rather do something else, me telling them that they're rude/inconsiderate and verbally beat them into submission until they do what I prefer to do.

    When I was growing up I very much viewed extroverted people as "attention seeking" and they viewed me as "shy". I think if we all accepted each other as we are and didn't force others to be a little bit more like them people would be much happier.

  2. Melinda says:

    this article is my life. perhaps I also need to stop being so self centred and accept that the world will never be perfect but perhaps understanding someone else's story. Perhaps will have a small positive impact in this world.

  3. jeanenemack says:

    I appreciate your honesty and the article is very well written. However, as a woman who is and always has been introverted, I can't but help feel like you just called me a "narcissistic asshole". All the things you described as reasons for isolation legitimately cause me anxiety and probably most introverts. I understand where you were going with this and actually agree with what you said EXCEPT for the comparison to an actual introvert! 🙂

  4. introvert says:

    Being anti-social =/= being introverted
    Ignoring your kids =/= being introverted
    Being introverted =/= narcissistic

    Narcissism = the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration of one's own attributes
    Introversion = people whose energy tends to expand through reflection and dwindle during interaction. An introvert is likely to enjoy time spent alone and find less reward in time spent with large groups of people, though he or she may enjoy interactions with close friends.

  5. besangeeta says:

    Thanks for voicing a balancing point of view.

    I too feel that there seems to be a bias in many articles that can end up encouraging one to focus solely on 'one's own comfort'. At the same time, as others have commented above, self-care is also a genuine requirement for introverts as also HSPs and Empaths. Because I also arrived at a similar thought as you have expressed here, I followed up my 'Tools for Empaths' article with one that may interest you and other readers here. It lists some specific suggestions to help with this tricky balancing act between caring for ourselves and others.

    Please see https://serenereflection.wordpress.com/2015/10/01

    Warmly,

    Sangeeta

  6. Caroline says:

    I appreciate your article. And I also agree to others comments. You have seemed to have lumped all introverts into the category of narcissistic assholes. That may be how you handeled introverted qualities in your life but it seems extreme to lump all introverted humans into that category. There are so many thoughtful, patient , available, wise introverts I know living full and meaningful lives honoring their own way of relating to the world as well as being involved with others.

  7. ash says:

    I think I got your meaning! This has started happening to me as of late. I’m really glAd I read this since I identify with pretty much every aspect. I understood that you were basically engorging in isolation which turned into you being a narcissistic asshole instead of just an introvert. It was enlightening. Thank you.

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