Up until June of 2019, I had spent my entire life searching for why I felt different from everyone else. While others liked parties, dances, and campouts, I liked reading alone in my room. While others enjoyed sports, team video games, and popular TV shows, I preferred to write my own stories and write about my own ideas. While others enthusiastically spoke of the joy of service, I dreaded dealing with people. Even what people valued didn’t seem to make sense. They spent their time trying to make money, win fame, develop relationships, and build things. They started businesses and debated people online. They traveled to exotic places. They ate fancy foods. They rode roller coasters. They went to concerts.
I tried to find my place amidst all of these activities. I studied music, academics, arts, storytelling, and politics. But I almost never felt right in social settings. Strangely enough, only school and other highly structured places were comfortable: I knew what I had to do and how I had to do it to be accepted. But even then, I thought of school instrumentally: the faster I did what was expected, the faster I could go back to my room and be in my head. This led to awkward family relationships, hesitant and failed attempts at dating, and complete ineptitude in the job market. I couldn’t relate to people unless I put on a fake persona, couldn’t interact with people unless I froze my face in a plastic expression that left me physically drained, and I couldn’t work anywhere unless someone came to me and offered me a job.
What was wrong with me?
Here were some of my theories over the years:
None of these theories quite explained everything. Being an alien or a humanlike robot was impossible to prove. Being drained around other people wasn’t just awkwardness, since I still felt it even with people I liked. I didn’t hear voices. I felt empathy for people, though more for fictional characters in my head than people in the physical world.
Schizoid personality was closer than the rest, and it seemed to fit with my withdrawal from people, but it didn’t provide a reason, just a pattern of behavior. Introvert was the strongest: I became drained around people, I preferred being in my head, I liked structured systems, and I was drawn to abstract ideas, to the point that I was passionate and emotional about characters in stories and concepts in philosophy more often than people, even close family members.
But there was one problem with explaining my challenges by appealing to introversion: it didn’t explain why I had such a hard time in mainstream society. According to my sources about introversion, such as those following the Myers-Briggs personality types and books about introverts, introverts could learn a few handy tips and cope quite nicely with the extraverted world. Half or more of the human family were introverts, including presidents, CEOs, actors, public speakers, soldiers, engineers, activists, and fiction authors. Even my Myers-Briggs personality type had plenty of famous people, famous action heroes, and high-income jobs associated with it.
If this was true, then I still had no excuse for feeling so alien, so out of place in this world.
Then, in the summer of 2019, I decided to read Carl Jung’s 1921 book Psychological Types, the originating text for introversion, extraversion, and what would become personality types. After I read it, I realized that I did have an explanation. I really was different. I was really part of an oppressed population, but one so difficult to see and so silenced in society that even those who talked about the disadvantage of being an introvert hadn’t fully understood the implications.
Now I want to use what I have learned to spark an intellectual movement to better understand type diversity. I want to educate people about what introversion means and how it relates to the human experience. I want to better understand my wife and daughter, two introverts who mean so much to me, and write stories with introvert protagonists that will help others understand us better. I want to critique our social practices and institutions so we can create a more introvert-friendly world. And I want to discover my own true talents so I can contribute what I was meant to contribute to humanity and find psychological wholeness.
In this blog, I am going to share my thoughts about introverts and our relation to the world. If you are an introvert or just feel that others misunderstand or don’t appreciate your way of thinking and your talents, then this blog can be a place for you to learn more about your identity and join a community seeking to understand introverts. I hope you will join me on this journey so we can discover our identities together and discuss what we can do to make the world more friendly to those of all types. If you are an extravert who cares about introverts, then I hope you will join in the conversation as well. It will help you understand us better, including those among your friends and family, and help us come together to find practical ways of improving our own corners of the world.
Welcome to the Type Justice Blog. My purpose is to join the conversation recently reignited by Susan Cain, Jenn Granneman, and others about the place of introverts in society and how we can make the world more introvert-friendly. But there will be two distinctive features about this blog that I haven’t found anywhere else online. One will be my philosophical approach. As a trained philosopher, I bring a theoretical perspective to the conversation about introverts, including analytical logic as a method to explore claims about introversion. The other will be the focus on introvert oppression. I believe that introverts are oppressed, and that no amount of self-help will change our situation unless our cultures and societies change. I will explore practical ways we can end the oppression of introverts in our families and communities.
As my last point for this initial post, here are some norms I would like us all to adopt:
Did anything I mention about my experiences resonate with your own? Please leave comments below. I look forward to discussing more with you next week. At this point, I’m planning to post once a week on this blog, with more content to come on Introvert University as well.
Next week’s topic: What is an introvert?
I’m Harrison Paul, the Introvert Philosopher. I hold an MA in Philosophy from San Francisco State University and wrote my thesis on using moral education in schools to resist the influence of advertising on politics. I am the author of five-book introvert epic fantasy series Kaybree versus the Angels. I am also actively seeking publication for my nonfiction book The Quiet Minority: Why Introverts are Oppressed and How We Can Stop It and the Aurora Lightwalker series of far-future YA introvert novels.