The Depression of Introversion
Susan Cain talks about how introverts are “undervalued” in a society that has grown more and more obsessed with being extroverted in her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. The book is brilliant and empowering to all of us introverts who have been told throughout our lives that we need to be more extroverted. In a nutshell, she claims all of that is bullshit… and I agree.
But one of the things the book can’t solve is our social awkwardness and anxiety. Case in point…
In some sense, we all want to be a functional extrovert. I want to be able to attend a party, meet new people, and make new friends. How often has that actually happened? Rarely, if ever. I made a number of great friends in college, two of which are now my best friends, but I’ve never been able to make new friends after I graduated.
There are a number of major obstacles in my way. First, as aforementioned, I’m socially awkward. I don’t make steady eye contact, and small talk is excruciatingly boring to me. I do try though. And this is definitely an area I want to improve.
Second, I have rare opportunities to meet new people. A lot of people have told me to join a church, but I’m not religious, nor do I think I need religion. I’m not a fan of it, and I don’t think I can be convinced of that. The social aspect of it, however, is appealing, but I’d feel like a fraud for going only for that and not believing in what I am actually supposed to be there for.
The city I live in isn’t exactly chalk full of activities for adults. My girlfriend and I have both tried to find outlets to make new friends. It doesn’t seem to be working. It’s been going so badly that we are getting depressed. We feel we are great friends to the ones we have, but the interaction we have with them happens on a monthly basis. We want more than that. But we can’t seem to find that.