I am tired.
I am tired of the uninformed opinion of extraverts that introverts must be "pushed out of their comfort zone", "encouraged to come out of their shell", "shown how to have some fun". And I am tired that it has become completely acceptable for extraverts to act on their misconceptions.
Case in point is a recent event I attended. In the "fun part" at the end of the day the lights suddenly dimmed, a medley of sing-along songs blasted from the speakers, and video projections danced on the wall. People I hardly know surrounded me with big smiles and bigger pom-poms and encouraged me with shouts and gestures to make a fool of myself. And Gloria Estefan came on, and there was a conga line, and they had so much fun, and it was awful to witness.
"Step out of your comfort zone," I was told(1).
I am not sure if this belief can be made a categorical imperative. But if it can, it surely must work both ways. Consequently, I have started to compile a list of things that would make the lives of extraverts a little less comfortable:
x: Go for a long walk alone and without a single electronic device.
x: Don't talk to anyone for a day.
x: Quietly read a book over lunchtime.
x: Learn to sing the Russian anthem in Russian but never sing it to anyone.
x: Watch an episode of Rick Steves' Europe.
x: Don't check your email for a week.
x: Don't check Facebook for a year.
x: Contemplate a difficult problem without telling anybody.
I am sure we can find ways to incorporate some of our ideas into staff retreats and conferences. Let's be creative. Let's strike back.
But only if we want to.
NOTES AND REFERENCES
(1) Consider the following two weaknesses: You are uncomfortable with masses of jolly people, loud music, and awkward dancing. You are uncomfortable with statistics, a complex argument, or a difficult text. Which one is more debilitating?