The New Millennium Of Depression For Introverts – Why Your Personality is Unnoticed
“Let’s go around the room and tell everyone your name and something interesting about yourself,” was the first sentence I heard when I joined a new group called Deep Thinkers. It was meant to improve my social skills, but while at this Meetup, hearing that first sentence reminded me that it was one of the most annoying things to handle because it’s not that I’m insecure about myself, but rather the execution of this way of introduction.
When you’re put on the spot to tell everyone about yourself, you’re forced to engage with everyone in the room and prove to society that you’re an interesting person. If you say you like to read and watch television, you’ll be shunned out as the boring person who doesn’t stand out.
It’s like during school where you were expected to tell the rest of the class what you did for summer vacation. Every year I always felt embarrassed to reveal my series of Introverted activities after hearing what the other students told us about their trips to Disneyland, other countries, and Family trips.
Personally, I loved the activities I did during summer vacation such as playing video games and with my toys. But I couldn’t imagine anyone being impressed by that story and when you’re a child or teenager, being accepted by your peers can be a major challenge. I was afraid of telling everyone my boring activities and they would label me in the boring category and exclude me from the others. Thus, I was often forced to exaggerate my tales of the summer.
Today, I may have traits that makes me stand out, but there’s always at least one other person in the room who’s Introverted but doesn’t know if they have anything interesting to say about themselves. Just like school, they’re placed in the same awkward position where they have to prove to the rest of the world they’re an interesting person.
Society doesn’t marvel at someone who says they enjoy reading, watching movies, and people watching. In this extroverted world, they expect an exciting answer such as, “You’re starting a giant company, you’ve traveled to a dozen countries, or you like to hike and party downtown.”
When society expects these kind of answers when you’re presented in front of a giant crowd, it makes you question your own identity. Are you really an interesting person? Is there anything wrong with you? You begin to hate yourself and fall into a mini depression episode where your identity is shrouded in darkness.
This doesn’t even include the Introverts who simply hate public speaking or too embarrassed to share their hobbies with a group of strangers.
I understand the intentions for why institutions prefer this use use of ice breaker. It’s meant to give everyone a chance to share conversation topics they could use to get a better idea of who you are. But from personal experience, not everyone is immediately comfortable with sharing their own thoughts and emotions with a group of strangers.
I still remember at the Deep Thinkers Meetup, there was a man who sat quietly the entire time while listening to everyone with a smile on his face. It was clear he was an Introvert who enjoyed being on the listening end of a group conversation. It was only until the main speaker forced him to speak to the group about his own personal experiences when he showed signs of major discomfort and anxiety. To prevent him from running away, I joined the conversation by redirecting the group’s attention to me.
For Introverts, when they first enter a group, most may not be comfortable with sharing their true thoughts with everyone in the room. It takes time for them to lower their defense and speak to people. For some Introverts, it takes 10 minutes. For others, it takes over an hour before they’re comfortable sharing their thoughts.
Rather than expecting everyone to immediately share their thoughts with the group, the “Introduction Process” should be a volunteer activity where only people who are comfortable speak aloud to the group. If no one is comfortable, then the person who gathered everyone together should be the one to speak until others feel encouraged to join along. Because the more people who speak up and share their vulnerabilities, the easier it is for an Introvert to get out of their shell.
Whether an Introvert decides to share their thoughts at the beginning of the session or towards the end, until they feel comfortable with the group, they won’t share genuine answers. If an Introvert feels forced to share their thoughts in front of a group of people, they’re more likely to reveal boring facts about themselves to keep everyone’s attention away from them. Others would make up false personas about themselves because they’re insecure to share their real interests.
But where does this problem lead to for Introverts when they begin questioning their own identities?
The Pursuit of One’s Identity?
Upon this Meetup group, it made me dig deeper into the problems Introverts faced when they’re depressed about who they are. The pursuit for one’s identity is a dangerous train Introverts embark on because without knowing where they stand in the world, they become lost. They reflect their own views and personalities with the people surrounding them.
Suicidal thoughts are very common among our group of people. Especially among funny Introverts who everyone assume lives happy lives. Whether it be a class clown, a comedian, or even your funny friend, there’s a high chance they suffer from a case of depression they’re not telling you about. They only use the funny persona as a way to connect to people.
When Introverts Create Fake Personalities
I won’t reveal his real name, so we’ll call him Fred. Fred, an Introvert I helped, was depressed since he was 11 years old because of the amount of times he’d been bullied, rejected and grew up in a broken home. It was until he was in ninth grade when he discovered the power to make other people laugh by accidentally hurting himself in class.
Enthuse by the social acceptance he never saw before, this made him want a continuation process of that emotion even at the expense of his own pride. For years he learned to make himself the butt of every joke, hurt himself intentionally, and make himself the fool at a party to get other people to accept him. Despite the pain it caused his heart, as long as he was socially accepted, it didn’t matter.
But the longer he resumed this habit, the more his thoughts about suicide increased. His hatred for life heightened because he was no longer living his life, but the life others expected him to live. People automatically placed him in the clown category and when he didn’t make people laugh, he remembered the disappointment on their faces.
I was dawned when I heard his circumstances and knew it was a path that would eventually lead to suicide because when you live a life for others, you lose your own identity. When you allow society to strip you of your identity, you lose the will to live. To help him, it took a series of forcing him to not use humor to lighten the situation or gain social acceptance. It’s necessary to play the serious card even when others expect you to be funny.
The Hard Path to Walk
Like Fred, any Introvert who lacks social skills can find the easiest way to make friends by “playing the extrovert” card by either acting funny, loud, or the party animal despite their natural habits. The only problem is whether you’re an Introvert or Extrovert, everyone still wants friends and you can end up betraying yourself if you live a life that doesn’t suit you.
I know it’s hard. There’s been times where I was lonely for friends and played the extroverted personality when I really wanted friends. Sometimes when we want to connect to people, we do things we’re not proud of. Because when we’re alone for too long, we feel that desire for human connections and acceptance.
But when you’re living a lie, you build a false persona that presents you as a fake extrovert. You manifest a fake personality that you end up resenting. Fred hated the fake extrovert he created in himself so much he contemplated the idea of suicide to “kill” it.
Any Introvert who pretends to be someone they’re not begins to hate themselves. They feel alone and believe no one sees them for who they really are. They realize they have no true friends and no connections.
A Personal Note to Introverts Who Don’t Think They Have a Personality
If you feel like you don’t know who you are, let me present you with Erika (not her real name to protect her identity), another client of mine. All she does is goes to school, eat, sleep, read, and play some video games on her computer. Sure, it may not sound interesting to the natural extrovert who loves going out and playing sports, but to most Introverts it’s paradise.
Sure, you may be classified as someone who lives like a robot, but don’t let that discourage you from continuing that lifestyle because extroverts do the same things repeatedly too. They go out, talk to people, party, get drunk, and repeat it all over again the next day.
We all repeat the same habits everyday in a robot-like fashion because that’s how habits are developed. It’s how people build giant corporations, lose weight, or become unstoppable in a video game. But that doesn’t immediately mean we’re interesting or not interesting.
Whether you reach level 99 on a video game you played for 40 hours or watched 40 hours of Football, neither makes you a more interesting person. It just means you both have different interests that captures your attention and makes you comfortable in life.
Because all that really matters is if you have good manners, you’re kind to others, and you’re comfortable under your own skin. It’s good to know other traits like communication skills, productive habits, and how to not be a toxic person, but the basis of a fun personality isn’t the same for everyone.
The longer society makes people feel ashamed for who they really are, the more it makes people hate themselves because they’re living a life not meant for them. Do not follow Fred’s life where he wanted to be a clown to gain social acceptance.
Despite what you think, you have a personality. It may not match the average extrovert, but we live in an extroverted society so don’t compare your lifestyle to theirs. Instead, compare it to yours. You are your own being. See what you’ve done in the past and new things you’ll like to try out today.
You may feel a great desire to be someone you’re not to gain friends, but it’ll only lead you down a dark path. A path you’ll eventually regret once you realize it wasn’t what you wanted.
I thought I wanted any kind of friends when I was alone even at the expense of my own happiness, but eventually depression does catch up to you. You begin to hate yourself and lose the will to live. So live my Introvert brothers and sisters by being who you really are. Do not be afraid to live to life you do.