It’s that time of year again. ‘Airbourne’ – the world’s biggest free seafront airshow. And it’s here! In Eastbourne! Four days of magnificent flying men and red-arrowtastic aerial displays. If I wanted to, I could watch it from the comfort of my home. But I’m not. Instead I’m clutching my ear plugs and making pathetic mewing sounds from a safe distance.
Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against freefall parachuters and military aircraft. Nor, as the proud owner of Celine Dion’s Greatest Hits, am I in a position to cast any stones. But, I have to be honest. Like the Royal Wedding and the Olympics and New Year’s Eve and all the other stuff normal folks seem to enjoy, Airbourne gives me The Fear. Just thinking about it makes me a bit sweaty and in need of a stress wee. But I can’t! Because there are hundreds of people IN MY WAY and they keep stopping when I want to move forward and we’re all queuing for the same loo.
I like to think of myself as a kind of lovable sociopath. Here’s some of the things that make me stressed: changes in routine. Crowds. Loud noises. Medium-level noises. I’m a classic introvert – I like people – but they make me tired. I’m also a classic nerd – to wind down, I like sorting stuff and I like space.
I’ve always thought that this was pretty weird. And on bad days, I tend to beat myself up about it. So it was a real tonic to read what Jonathan Rauch has to say on the subject in a recent article in ‘Atlantic’. Listen to this;
‘In our extrovertist society, being outgoing is considered normal and therefore desirable, a mark of happiness, confidence, leadership. Extroverts are seen as bighearted, vibrant, warm, empathic. “People person” is a compliment. Introverts are described with words like “guarded,” “loner,” “reserved,” “taciturn,” “self-contained,” “private”—narrow, ungenerous words, words that suggest emotional parsimony and smallness of personality. Female introverts, I suspect, must suffer especially…a man can still sometimes get away with being what they used to call a strong and silent type; introverted women, lacking that alternative, are even more likely than men to be perceived as timid, withdrawn, haughty’.
For the full article, click here.
Rauch argues that introverts not only think differently to extroverts, but are misunderstood and even oppressed. Introversion he argues, is not misanthropy, depression or grumpiness. It’s not a mood or even a choice. It’s an orientation.
So you see, it’s not me that’s got the problem – it’s all you weird extroverts. Now stop oppressing me with your lights and noises..