Introverted Coping Mechanism


I’ve recently become a lot more in tune with my introversion and the ‘-version’ concept as a whole thanks to a wonderful book, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (such an awesome pseudonym), which was recommended to me by my beautiful soul of a partner. The female protagonist Cather is painfully introverted and socially awkward, two aspects I myself have, although nowhere near as extreme, Buddha be praised!

Now I happen to be the only black sheep in a family of extroverts, which looking back has always seemed a little over whelming and most likely why I spent a large portion of it in what they’ve jokingly nicknamed my ‘cave’ and ‘nest’, both of which I thought were pretty apt to be honest.

While attempting to hold my own in a parry of small talk or to coin a phrase I prefer ‘nonversation’ with my mom I randomly happened to notice what I decided to refer to as an introverted coping mechanism. By which I obviously mean a little technique I’ve developed to deal with my other-end-of-the-spectrum family.

The technique is, baring in mind this only works because they’re my family, to walk away so long as I’m not actively engaged in conversation. As soon as there’s a few moments silence I will just walk away to avoid any further nonversation from ensuing. Occasionally, like earlier, I’ll end up doing an awkward few steps, turn around to listen to something that was tagged on unexpectedly at the last second and throws the little socially awkward one in my head into turmoil (hoping the Inside Out reference was picked up), feeble non-reply, few steps, further nonversation onslaught, few steps, finally free!! But other than those rare occurrences my coping mechanism works.

I can only assume not long after I started doing this my family grew accustomed to it and accepted it as just the way I was (I hope!), which got me to thinking about wider society. As I mentioned earlier I only use this with my family, unless I feel so overwhelmingly trapped/panicked I feel I have no other choice. (Plus most of the time my social awkwardness doesn’t allow me to just walk away without first working out how to announce it to all present – as my girlfriend can attest after I made her stand around for well over an hour with my family and their friends before she finally did it for me – again, I’m sorry!)

Were I to do this to a friend or stranger that doesn’t know me so well I’m sure I would come across as standoffish and rude, which is quite sad when you consider the amount of introverts in the world who, like me, have no intention of offending anyone, but simply don’t feel comfortable engaging in the same social interactions they do. I’m sure were they to imagine that along with all these social interactions their energy was being sucked out of them into something resembling what came out of Donnie Darko’s chest and feeding into other people…they might think about it a little differently.

I’m not here to document the suffering of poor feeble introverts or to shame boisterous extroverts, merely recording my personal observations and maybe trying to Bridge The Gap a little. And to all that know me, if one day I seemingly abruptly walk off without saying goodbye, know these two things: It was most certainly not abrupt, I’d been working out how to leave for the past 15 minutes. And it probably means we’re close, so take it as a compliment.