I did that rather nice thing in the local library yesterday, where I strolled along the bookshelves and picked out books that I liked the look of. I suppose this is the ultimate case of choosing a book by its cover, but I’ve had some good successes that way. Anyway, I started one of these books (The Alchemist’s Apprentice, by Jeremy Dronfield) and came across a passage that made me laugh. It was talking about New Year’s Eve:
“I’m not much of a hand at celebrations; they depress me at best, and the enforced good-willing of New Year makes me want to start lobbing hand grenades. People are the problem. I don’t like them much, if you want the truth. One is good; any number up to four or five can be fine, but more than that and I find that the chimpanzee in them starts to take over.”
I laughed because, as someone who wanted to live on a 50 acre block partly so I could have no visible neighbours, I can really relate to this statement. I definitely have a bit of, I don’t think it’s misanthropy, but a desire to be by myself when I choose to be. While I like to be around other people a lot of the time, and can even come across as the life of the party, without my ‘alone time’ in which to retreat and recharge I quickly become frazzled and fractious. I’m also not a huge fan of that ‘chimpanzee factor’ that seems to come into effect when human beings are together in large crowds. Football games and concerts at huge stadiums are not events you’ll see me at very often. I’m happiest in smaller groups where I can talk get to know people properly – invite me to a dinner party with friends or an intimate gig with a soulful singer and I’m there. However superficial ‘hi and bye’ relationships bug me and the older I get the more I can’t be bothered with them.
Have you figured out yet that I have some introverted tendencies? Supposedly about 25% of the population fall into the ‘introverted’ category, and they tend to receive a pretty bad rap in our fun-loving, winners-are-grinners, toot-your-own-horn society. But us introverts have a lot to offer. We are thoughtful. We often have amazing talents. We tend to be empathetic, and therefore kind. And best of all, introverts are creators. In fact, that’s the very definition of an introvert – someone who goes within themselves to obtain their energy, rather than seek it externally. Introverts are over-represented in artistic, spiritual and intellectual fields. And introverts have been the originators of some of the best and most world-changing ideas throughout history – which isn’t surprising given their natural tendency to go within and ponder life’s greater meaning.
It’s unlikely that introverts will ever band together en masse and have a tickertape parade through the streets, or star in their own TV show (can you imagine Big Brother with introverts – everyone in their own rooms reading a book – riveting viewing). So I will just raise a quiet glass of red wine to all those who like to spend time in their own company once in a while. A toast to the introverts, in a chimpanzee world.