Our Shadow Introverts
Updated: May 7, 2018
Introverts make excellent businessmen. We are masters of the energy distribution model - the most stringent and rigorous social accountants known to man. This is because we have learnt to operate on 70% of the energy resources of extroverts. Every month is a fiscal January. We are in a permanent state of energy austerity. Life requires careful management and budgeting, so that we can spread ourselves across the slice in a way that masks the deficiency.
Being an introvert is an amazing thing. The world hums, our bodies fizz. It’s also a hugely privileged experience getting to know one - having their secret world unfurl in your hands, lifting the rock to inspect the rich ecosystem that exists beneath. But it also comes with huge frustrations. Sometimes we have to sit with our backs to the door even when we want to turn round and throw it open. We have to stop the world shouting so that we can hear our bodies whisper.
Our scheduling is a continuous game of consequences; ‘if you do x tomorrow you can’t do y on Friday’. The possibility of ‘out’ can only exist when attached to a proximate promise of ‘in’ - we can never stray far from that umbilical cord. This co-dependency, this constant bargaining, squeezes out the serendipity and spontaneity of youngfolk socialising. The evening ends and you have expelled your warmth into the room, like a balloon flying dizzingly around the ceiling. Then you go home deflated and must slowly re-fill, quietly and painstakingly. The process of emotional recalibration cannot be jump-started, short-circuited, or cheated. It takes as long as it takes - a time commitment that merely maintains, rather than progresses. We are constantly restoring the colours on our painting - just to try and keep them from fading in the light.
Introverts live a split life, surfacing periodically like Persephone from the underworld. Tuesday nights may rage on for the extrovert, but deep below the surface, a colony of introverts sway at the bottom of a midnight ocean waiting for the shadowy calm to fill them up again.
The ‘bleak meme’ barometer is an excellent indication of how much an issue is plaguing the consciousness of millennials - feelings, frustrations and anxieties that have no official outlet, recognition or even vocabulary are re-enacted through this medium of identification and community-searching. Introversion is a favourite sitter for the bleak meme artist - people laugh wryly at the struggles of being an introvert in a narrative written by extroverts (‘sleep when you’re dead’, ‘FOMO’ ‘always on’,) but they represent a daily battle.
On bad days, it can feel like owning an unwieldy, semi-domesticated pet. It will launch full scale mutinies at inopportune moments, sinking its claws into the sofa leg and refusing to leave the house, or leaving exhausting little shits in your mental underwear drawer. If you try and push against the inevitable you are rewarded with snarling gashes in your side. This is all particularly nightmarish when it comes to the delicate process of getting close to someone; we aren’t used to having another person sit with us at the bottom of our ocean on a Tuesday. Shifting around the changing schedule of a partner doesn’t sit well with our carefully distributed energy plan for the week - it’s fixed tariff trying to run on pay-as-you-go flexi. Introverts are fossil fuels, burning deep and red and powerfully. But not infinitely. We cannot draw energy from our environments sustainably, wurring on and on.
So I put this challenge out to all my fellow introverts - how do we create a vocabulary that helps people understand our operating model? How do we explain what we do sitting at the bottom of our oceans? How do we reconcile two different dialects, and two opposing narratives; one completely cannibalised by the other? How do we protect our 70% in a world that is constantly demanding
Words by Anonymous
lllustrated by Jess Bird