short article about tips for managing an introverted nature, especially the spirited discussion in the comments section from introverts insisting "I just want to be me." Like many of them, I'm a bit baffled by why our extroverted brethren enjoy the gatherings of strangers that constitute their mysterious social life. If I'm going to hang out with people (especially people I don't know well), I want to have an agenda: to play music together, to paint the house, or at least to cook or share a meal. Failing that, we'd better have extremely strong ties and shared interests in order to prevent the conversation from flagging.
But as I'm a bit cold-natured and socially clueless, in recent years I've made an effort to mingle. I always hang out in the parish hall after Sunday services, for instance, and since that's not a social convention that does anything for me naturally, I concentrate on practicing listening skills. (Left to my own instincts, I'd babble nervously and become a bore.) After a few years of this, I can't say it's grown on me much. Every so often it leads to a new friendship -- that spark you both feel when you realize you'd rather talk to each other than mingle -- and it always leads to a greater awareness of the situation and needs of those around me, which is good regardless of whether it's fun. Nevertheless, it retains an ersatz quality that reminds me I'm in alien territory.
I'll always prefer a few intense relationships to a large number of friendly ones, and focused conversations to casual interaction, not to mention (usually) solitude to groups. It will always be easier to get me to come to a party if its purpose is to pick up trash and then enjoy a picnic than if the agenda is to stand around with mixed drinks. As you can imagine, I was just about the world's worst networker as a law partner, a real stinker in that department. I was a lot more useful as the person you could tell to stay up three nights in a row in order to produce an outstanding chapter 11 plan on brutally short notice that would stand up on appeal. That kind of thing is hard work, but it doesn't hold a candle to the drain I experienced from having to attend cocktail parties. Oh, how glad I am to leave behind any professional obligation to attend cocktail parties. In a sane world I'd have found a way to get double my usual hourly rate for that chore, instead of having to pretend it was so much fun that I'd happily give up my nights and weekends to endure it.
The fact remains that we all have to mingle from time to time, and it's nice for us introverts to have a few tricks to make it less excruciating for ourselves and those around us. It's not like the extroverts have any plans to return the favor by learning how to structure social activities to our satisfaction, but that's OK. The extroverts will be happier with each other's company, anyway. They would hate our idea of parties and probably can't think of a good reason to learn otherwise.