Whisper it: Introversion is the New Insecurity
It was as much a college rite of passage as puking up your lungs, oversleeping for a 3pm lecture, or living in a pit constructed entirely out of your own filth. The Midnight Confessional. Newly-made friends, hanging on to each other for dear life, staying up way past their bedtimes, indulging in The Midnight Confessional. Dark secrets are revealed, bonds are made that will last a lifetime (well, most of the first term). Up pops Ms. Pretty, Mr. Suave, Miss Sexy, Master Slut, and looking up under expensive fringes, declare how insecure they really feel.
Of course, aforementioned Most Insecure Boy/Girl/Superstar/DJ, having dropped that bombshell, display not one pixel of insecurity for the rest of their college life, soon dumping those late-night avid listeners for a more lively crowd that doesn’t sit around depressing dorms, inspecting navels. But there it was. The Insecurity Stakes were run, people clambering over each other to declaim how little confidence they had, how they didn’t really know who they are, how deeply, deeply, utterly insecure they felt.
But that was 20 years ago. Insecurity sounds a bit passé, a bit immature, in fact, totally old skool. Smiley face. Acciiiid! Of course no one has confidence, likes themselves, or knows what the sweet FA is going inside their heads. We have X-Factor to tell us all of that. No, insecurity is as current as road protests and The Farm’s Groovy Train.
What we have had instead is an avalanche of introversion. We can trace it back to a March 2003 essay in The Atlantic: “Caring For Your Introvert” by Jonathan Rauch, one of their most viewed articles, in, like, for ever. In fact it is a wonderfully written piece that didn’t as much hit chord as strike a bloody great bell the size of Belgium. But the articles and books, posts and blogs, all followed. This reached the NYT bestseller list with the irritatingly titled “Quiet” with a cringing subtitle I just can barely bear to type – something about a world that can’t shut up and introvert power. Makes introverts sound like freaks who go about whispering to themselves. Which is only partially true.
And though we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, the author Susan Cain just doesn’t strike us as your common or garden introvert type. Once you realize she’s a Princeton and Harvard grad, and started a negotiating consultancy with Fortune 500 clients, you know where you last saw her – she left The Midnight Confessional with a pitying smile on her face. And sorry, once more, a negotiating consultancy – which would seem top ten for Most Unlikely Jobs for The Truly Introverted, But Quite Respectable For Pretend Introverts Who Have To Pretend To Be An Introvert To Make Their Book Seem Authentic When In Fact It Is Simply Cashing In On A Trend.
Most nauseating of all are the introvert lists that have popped up, exploding all those introvert ‘myths’ you’ve never heard – all about how introverts aren’t really shy, how they don’t dislike other people, how they can have fun and be happy. Which is true for people who are mistaking being an introvert for feeling a little off-color, or a tad tired.
Fact is, real introverts fucking hate other people and can’t wait for them all to shut the fuck up and go away. Real introverts are not happy, they do not have fun, they can’t relax, they are anxious sore thumbs and they are so shy they would rather not show up for their own funeral as ‘its loads of people staring at you.’ Being an introvert is miserable, you hate being with other people, you hate yourself for hating being with other people (including your spouse and children), and then when you are finally alone you hate yourself for feeling guilty that you can only be sane on your own and you hate yourself even more because you are supposed to be with other people, you loser.
It is an unpleasant experience, trust me. And all your introvert empowerment books won’t make a shred of difference (real books: The Introvert Advantage, Introvert Power, The Happy Introvert, Self-Promotion For Introverts, The Introverted Leader and my current favorite, Marketing For Introverts: “You don’t want it? Well. That’s okay. Its crap anyway. No, I’ll find my own way out. It’s raining? No, it’s okay it’s only 3 miles to my car. Thanks. Thanks for nothing you fucker. I hate this. I hate this so much…”)
So back to your college dorm. Midnight. Term one. The Introvert Stakes will start. Get ready. It’s this generation’s insecurity.