I suspect that introverts and extroverts experience the difference between them in different ways.
I think it would surprise extroverts to learn that the biggest thing that introverts feel from them is impatience. It feels as though it’s struggle for them to wait for us, and for our attention. To wait for our thoughts to happen. To wait for words. To wait for us to be available. I don’t mean at the level of days and weeks and meet-ups. I mean struggle to wait seconds when you’re standing next to them.
When you’re an introvert standing next to an extrovert, it can feel like they are invisibly, unwittingly pulling you along and you’re not ready to go where they’re going yet. There’s all sorts of other stuff going on for you, inside your introvert head, that they don’t know about, because it isn’t going on in the same way for them. And you think that they don’t get it and feel ignored and disregarded and you’re sensitive to that. And you try to hurry up and attend to the interaction because you think it’s making them uncomfortable. But often hurrying up fragments you a bit, makes you less coherent and less skilled and just less. And that makes them even more impatient because when they finally get you they feel like they’re not getting all of you, or the real you, as a result.
There’s also a kind of impatience with the difference. As an introvert, it can feel like extroverts are impatient even with the idea that there is a difference in the first place. It’s not that your mind works differently, it’s just that you don’t like them or aren’t being polite to them and want to make an excuse for it, or something like that.
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I wonder what the flipside is? I’m not an extrovert so I don’t really know what it feels like to be an extrovert standing next to an introvert. I know that I just said that they feel ignored and disregarded, but in fact that’s my own interpretation as an introvert, based on the years of experience being me.
And even if that’s accurate, I wonder if that’s the biggest part of the experience for them, or if there’s some other more essential “what that it feels like” to be standing next to an introvert.
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As introverts, I think we also struggle to be patient with ourselves. We’re used to trying to hurry up for everyone around us.
But that’s just not how it works. If I force myself to do something before I’m ready, the product sucks. Years of experience have taught me this. I have to let the gears turn (it can look like I’m doing nothing or slacking off) until the cognitive foundation is laid. I know I’m ready because suddenly I start the task almost without thinking about it—and then, when I’ve been patient and given myself the time to let it percolate on its own before starting—I am probably the fastest person around at getting it done, and with amazing results.
But it can’t be forced. My mental system has to conceptualize and understand what’s going to be done before I do it. Otherwise, I just suck at doing it.
But it’s hard to have that patience, to give yourself that time, in a world that is also itself in a hurry.