An introvert is a person who looks in at the world through its storefront window. He can see what goes on inside, and in fact, that is what he loves most to do. He is a student of the inside, where the world is; he studies it all the time. He loves it. He stares and loses himself in thought thinking about the inside.
But there is only so much you can do from outside a storefront window. You can study and watch, but that is all. That is what the introvert is, a watcher. He cannot hear anything anyone says inside. He cannot participate in the laughter or the sorrow that transpires inside. He cannot feel the drama that he assumes is happening; he can only imagine it. He cannot comfort or help anyone inside. He cannot buy anything that is for sale. He is not an Insider, and he cannot become one.
It is cold outside. He can see his breath. It is always cold outside, so he is bundled up. Sometimes it snows, but he doesn’t notice. He doesn’t really care, actually. What he really wants is to get warm. He wants somehow to get warm. It is always so cold outside.
People inside think he is rude. Sometimes they cast a glance at him; the glance says, “You are rude. Stay outside, rude person. We don’t want you in here with us. We are not rude, we are extroverts.” They think the watcher stays outside because he does not like them. They think he judged them and made a choice not to be with them. They think he likes being cold. But he has done none of those things, and he is none of those things. There is simply no door for people like him. Do they know?
One of the pains he feels every day is that of just being an introvert. The world goes ’round and good deeds are done when people do the things that extroverts do — give and take with one another in smooth, efficient, pleasant ways — not when they do the things that introverts do, which never involve give and take with others. An introvert is not able to do those things that happen in the good inside of the world. But it is not by choice. It is the way he has always been; it is how he remembers it always being; it is the only world accessible to him.
If he is not in the minority, he certainly feels like he is, since most people appear to be always in the throes of giving and taking with one another in smooth, efficient, pleasant ways. From time to time he sees another who is on the outside looking in. But he has no way of reaching that other galaxy of a world away, so many light years away from his own ice-cold storefront window.
And so he is cut off from the paths most people are taking to get to and from each other. He is always lonely.
He realized a long time ago that being an introvert is one of the most debilitating personality traits you can have. It means you aren’t wired for the give and take of day-to-day life. It means you are permanently alone and helpless in a way that no one else can understand.
He doesn’t know if he was born an introvert, or if he learned it, or if it’s a combination of both. He supposes it’s probably a combination of both, like everything else about us. But he does know that it relates directly to his inability to talk to people in ways that make sense to them. He is not able to represent his thoughts with words in normal conversation such that his true thoughts come out. No matter what words he chooses, the right ones never come out, and the message gets all mangled. As soon as he says the words, his mind thinks, No, that is not what I’m thinking! It is always this way. Always.
He realized this very early in life. Whenever he would talk to people, he could not say what was actually in his head. No matter how hard he tried or how long he tried, he could never get his words to match his thoughts. He would talk to people, and he would say things to them that didn’t make sense even to him. I don’t mean that they would be nonsensical; I mean that they would not represent his thoughts. And the more he would say the worse it would get.
So he just learned to stop talking. It was the only way to avoid miscommunicating with people and misleading them or confusing them so often about so much. It was certainly less frustrating for him. And it was less embarrassing, too, as most of the time he just said things that dressed him up like a clown.
He has never been able to fix this. God knows he has tried. But the trying never works. He pounds on the storefront window and he screams into it, but no one inside hears him. After a while, they get tired of trying, too. They stop motioning for him to come in. They just turn away and go on with what they were doing, confused and maybe a little glad that he can’t reach them. After all, he looks like a lunatic, gesticulating and screaming and looking frantic and not simply joining them inside where it is warm.
They think he must love it out here, freezing to death.
How silly. How so very silly.