mamamia out-loud

'Maybe I'm not an introvert. Maybe I'm just an arsehole.'

For years I have branded myself as an introvert, and I’ve happily worn that badge with pride.

Finally, I had an excuse for why I didn’t feel like going out after work more than once a week, why my ideal Friday night was a glass of wine and a full Netflix queue, and why sometimes, the thought of attending a party where I would know less than 50 per cent of the other guests could leave me in tears.

Details: Mia Freedman, Jessie Stephens and Monique Bowley discuss whether “being and introvert” has become an excuse for crap behaviour.

Soon, being labelled an introvert became cool. There were characters on TV (hello, April Ludgate from Parks and Recreation) that I’d never related to more.

There were even MEMES. You know you’ve made it when your personality type starts trending on Twitter.

Things were going great. Me and my introversion were getting along just fine.

Except one day, after cancelling dinner plans (as I am wont to do when it approaches the end of a week and I’m tired from more than two days of work in a row), my friend revealed that I’d earned myself quite the bad reputation.

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Apparently, everyone knew that making plans with me also meant having to make back-up plans in the highly-likely chance I would “feel unwell” or “need some time to myself” at the last minute.

“But it’s not my fault! I’m an introvert!” I wanted to scream. But no, that wasn’t true anymore.

I was just being an arsehole.

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I’ve pretty much cancelled any and every plan and blamed it all on my introverted nature. I’ve said I’m too anxious, tired and emotionally exhausted in a vain attempt to justify my decisions to get go to bed at 8:50pm on a Saturday night when I’m supposed to be at a work friend’s birthday drinks.

That’s not to say that I’ve been lying about being an introvert this whole time. I most definitely am. Social interaction can leave me feeling drained and the way I recharge is having downtime by myself.

I know that if I fill my calendar with too many events – no matter if they are work-related or catch-ups with some of my best friends – my anxiety will slowly but surely creep up on me.

Hiding behind excuses to get out of plans. Image via iStock.

But I've also had some of the most fun when I've forced myself to attend events or parties that I didn't want to. I'm often surprised by how much fun I will have, when not two hours earlier, I had been been preparing to hit send on a "sorry, can't make it xx" text.

Being a true introvert means that sometimes you have to be selfish. You have to know when to stop, take stock and recharge yourself, away from the rest of the world. But does that mean I should agree to plans that I have no intention of attending, and bail on my friends at the last minute?

No, because that is an arsehole move.

I'm happy to admit that being an introvert and being an arsehole are not mutually exclusive. You can most definitely be both (guilty). But should you use one to excuse the other? Most definitely not.

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