Most people would rather die than do what I do. One of my revenue streams is from public speaking. The fear of public speaking is known as glossophobia, which ranks ahead of death and heights for the majority of the population.
And I’m a card-carrying introvert.
I wrote, recorded, and produced a podcast called “The Intronaut” for almost two years. In case you didn’t notice, the show title is a play on astronaut and introvert—an “inside explorer” or something like that. Specifically, I’m an INTJ on the Myers–Briggs. The INTJ personality type is nicknamed “the mastermind” and represents only 2-4% of the population.
The “I” stands for introversion, which means a quiet, calm external demeanor. Introverts prefer a small group of close friends, as opposed to a large group of acquaintances. Introverts are drained by social interactions, whereas extroverts are fueled by them.
The “N” stands for sensing. Introverts with intuition live in the abstract. They’re often seen as “big picture” thinkers.
The “T” is for thinking. Thinking introverts don’t care about your opinion or personal preferences. They value objective data as opposed to subjective feelings.
The “J” explains how introverts interact with their environment. Judging introverts love structure, systems, and logic. They’re open to change but only when empirical evidence suggests its beneficial to do so.
In the world of personality archetypes, I’m an outlier, and that’s important to remember.
As a full-time creative, I often find myself at social gatherings, some of them quite large. In fact, I’m often the host at these kinds of events, which I thoroughly enjoy. But there’s a catch—they take all of my energy and leave me practically bedridden for days after until I recover.
Generally speaking, the introversion/extroversion labels are really two ends of a spectrum. We all fall somewhere in the middle but can tend to lean one way or the other. Extroverts are less sensitive, meaning they are biologically wired to not only block out external stimuli but thrive on it. Extroverts are the ones in the middle of the dance floor with a drink, shaking it, and having a conversation with a friend.
On the other hand, introverts are highly sensitive. The least bit of external stimuli can overwhelm their system and leave them in an almost-catatonic state. The introvert is the guy in the library, sitting in a corner and wearing headphones to block out any remaining noise.
When it comes down to it, the difference between an extrovert and an introvert is the accepted level of sensitivity tolerance. It has nothing to do with being social, shy, talkative, or a loner. The underlying driver of behavior has to do with a biological reaction to external stimulus—extroverts can block it out, introverts cannot.
Therefore, I (and other introverts, especially other INTJs) have a choice. I can create coping mechanisms that allow me to survive and thrive in high-stimulus environments, or I can expect the rest of the world to regulate environmental stimulation to a level that I find tolerable.
I can change, or I can expect the rest of the world to change. Remember the stat on an INTJ? That personality type comprises roughly 2-4% of the population.
I would be dishonoring my pragmatic, rational INTJ badge if I suggested for even a moment that the world should change on my behalf. Would I like to use a stun gun on people who talk in the movie theater? Yes. Would I advocate an electric shock for people who hold phone conversations in public? Yes. Do I believe that people who watch YouTube videos without earbuds should be punched in their buds? Of course.
But just because it’s my issue doesn’t mean I get to make it other people’s issue.
I deal, I adapt, I adjust, I cope. I do whatever I need to do to protect my highly-sensitive nervous system—thanks a lot, genetics. Believe me, I wish that holding a conversation in a crowded bar while a heavy metal band is playing, and a parade is coming down the street didn’t give me a migraine. But it does. So it’s my responsibility to not put myself in that situation.
My sensitivity is my responsibility.
I must continue to develop my sense of empathy, to understand that I don’t have the right to change society for the other 98% of people who don’t have the same sensitivity that I do.
“There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches.” – Ray Bradbury
The problem with social media is that it’s gasoline on the flames of outrage culture. If I wanted to (and I don’t), I could surround myself with a virtual community of INTJs where 100% of my self-selected population has the same sensitivity as I do. But that’s not real. Your social media bubble is not real.
Just because you’re offended by something doesn’t make it offensive.
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