Introverts prefer their drama in books, on television, and in films…not in our lives.
There are those who seem to manufacture drama wherever they go, or who seem to attract it to themselves in subtle or overt ways. It’s a form or attention-seeking that introverts avoid whenever and wherever possible. It’s also a blatant form of insecurity made public, as if those who create drama are tremendous self-doubters, and so require “validation” through dramatic episodes. All too often, they look around them to see who they can drag into their soap opera.
I remember hearing once that “even negative attention is attention.” In our media-driven society, that has become more true than not. Individuals know that if they aren’t getting the attention the want for their successes, they only have to do something illegal or immoral or unethical, and suddenly the whole world is looking at them.
This form of attention-getting is self-sabotage, but it also becomes addicting. Then we become addicted to watching the public meltdowns, outbursts, and bad behavior.
Introverts tend to be much more sensitive to their surroundings than others. This idea used to be held against us, as if it were some kind of social crime. I heard, more times than I care to remember that I was “too sensitive,” that I would grow up to be “the loneliest person on the planet.” I was taught, as a male, not to show emotion or sensitivity because it would cause hardship in my life. But that sensitivity is what I was made of. It was part of my biology, and I could no more change it than I could change eye color. (excluding color contacts, that is…those things weren’t yet invented when I was a child)
Therefore, I came of age believing there was something intrinsically wrong with me because I was incredibly sensitive. Loud noises and too many people made me scream and retreat. My parents thought me autistic for many years because of it.
One story from my childhood was when I joined Cub Scouts. My parents were den mother and father, and many meetings took place at our house. One year, we were acting out the lyrics to “Puff the Magic Dragon.”
The song is about unrequited frienship, where a young boy befriends a dragon, but, in the ways of all boys, grows out of those fantasies to create other, more adult fantasies. And because of it, Puff languishes alone, pining for his friend.
To a young boy of my temperament, it stirred emotions inside me that were overwhelming, and every time I heard it, I would sob uncontrollably, irrevocably sad because Puff lost his best friend.
Our den parents tried everything to get me to stop crying — including shaming me in front of my fellow Scouts, and throwing glasses of ice cold water in my face. Eventually, the wouldn’t allow me to participate with the others. They forced my withdrawal from the Scouts, and I never went back.
And to this day, tears come when I hear that song. I was “too sensitive.” “Too shy.” I understood and fully experienced Puff’s heartbreak when his friend came around no more, and I pined with him.
Over the years, I learned to embrace my sensitivity. It is a part of me that I celebrate because it provides me insight and emotion that many seem to overlook because they’re too busy texting or partying or looking for a crowd to hang out with. Very few understand a man’s need to be by himself…a state that I seek out as often as possible. Like many introverts, my story is similar to yours. We all came to accept our sensitivity and need for solo-time in our own ways, in our own time.
The need to avoid drama is strong. The noise, the chaos, the negativity of all that attention-getting! The only reason drama kings and queens don’t throw straight out temper tantrums (though I have seen more adult versions of those than I care to recount) is because they are “adults” now. Yet they have not outgrown that need for drama in their life.
Now, I can take a step back and watch the drama unfold in bemusement without getting caught up in it. As sensitives, we learn to recognize our own antics and differentiate them from others’. It’s a life-saving technique that we either learn, or continually get drawn into those melodramatic moments. Which eat a little piece of our introvert souls each time we allow it to happen.
Introverts don’t do drama. We don’t want to be the center of attention, nor do we want to participate in others’ drama. If we want drama, we’ll act in a play, or go see one. We won’t abide by those who insist they be the center of their own universe, even if they have to stomp their feet and cry.