But I Like My Shell!

It’s been a hot, muggy July here in Toronto so far. My lungs aren’t a fan of breathing oven air so I’ve been absorbing this book.

Introverts, I’m sure you know how this conversation goes:

“You’re so quiet!”


“Is everything okay?”


“Don’t you want to come out of your shell?”


*tap, tap, tap*  “What are you doing in there?”


“Don’t you want to share your thoughts?”

“Not at the moment.”

Lather, rinse, repeat.

One of the best points made in this book is that shells aren’t bad, they aren’t a character flaw.  As I was reading I thought about turtles, snails, crabs, and armadillos. Without their shells they’d never survive!

It’s as ok to have one as it is to befriend everyone you meet but too often those of us who live in the west are taught the opposite. As a kid I brushed away the annoyance of other people treating my personality as something that needed to be fixed. There were specific situations in which I wished I was more outgoing, of course, but I couldn’t understand why being talkative and extroverted were valued so much more. If everybody is vying to be the centre of attention  no one will end up there. The life of any party needs at least a few people to pay attention to what he or she is doing.

I wonder what the people who make comments about coming out of your shell would say if we turned the tables on them?

Why do you ask so many questions?

Well, have you ever tried to be quieter?

Why do you have so many opinions?

I’ve been sorely tempted to try this. The only thing stopping me is that I don’t think (most) people realize how grating the come out of your shell! conversation becomes over time.


What do you think?


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7 Responses to But I Like My Shell!

  1. Sarah B.

     I’ve never thought about turning the tables on extroverts!  I’ll bet it would make for an interesting experience.

  2. Lots of people don’t like their shells.  Most shy people, in a moment of honesty, will confess that they wish they were less shy.  I rarely meet those who like their shyness.  But almost all shy people develop protective explanations to dismiss those who aren’t: They are arrogant, nosey, hyper, unsettled, careless, chaotic, irritating and more.
    Problem is, sometimes they are right.

    • Apex

      You have made an assumption that is often made.  Namely that introversion and shyness are the same thing.  They are not.  People who are truly shy have a level of social withdrawness and avoidance that is separate from introversion.  People who are merely introverted but not truly shy are often mistaken by extroverts as being shy.  Extroverts tend to view most people who seem considerably less outgoing than them as shy.

      Introverts are happy to interact with people.  They are not afraid to talk to strangers.  They are more than willing to give a public presentation.  Shy people don’t want to do any of these things.

      Introverts simply don’t want to be inundated with social interaction at all times and prefer to keep social interaction to manageable levels.  This is mistaken as shyness by many extroverts but that is simply because they can’t imagine that being normal since they are not that way.

      Only 25% of the world is introverted.  So introverts are inundated with extroverts.  We know that most of the world is not like us.  We know that’s normal.  We can’t miss it.  However Since most people are extroverts and they enjoy themselves that way (we enjoy ourselves our way too), then they think the rest of us just need to be drawn out and then we would be as happy as they are.  But unbeknownst to extroverts, we are happiest when we are allowed to be ourselves rather than being cajoled into being them.

      • Actually, I don’t think I confused them — I just think you wanted to read that.
        Nonetheless — your points are good.

        • Apex

          I hope my response wasn’t taken to be hostile as it was not intended as such.  It is just a common equivalency I see made between the two.

          Perhaps you did not confuse them but since you were responding to an article on introversion and used the word shy multiple times without using the word introvert I got the impression you were using them as one in the same.  Were you talking about a different topic than introversion?

          • You know, you are right.  You are responding to my comment a week after I made it.  Looks like I may have confused the two though I know the distinction.  Yet even shy people confuse themselves for introverts. 🙂

          • Apex

            Yes I think that is true.  I am not sure how to actually classify the distinction.  I think of it kind of like a spectrum.  If you put extroversion on the right and introversion on the left then I would just place shyness further to the left of introversion with probably some really socially paralyzed people on the far left of the spectrum.

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