As you know by now, I’ve been spending my time lately exploring what it means to be a Cave Dweller. I keep bumping up against the word introvert which is not surprising given the perceived concept of cave dwelling as living a hermitic lifestyle. For me, the word extrovert means someone who throws themselves out there–in public and on the internet–with joyful abandon, and (perhaps) loudly. So what does it mean to be the opposite? Does that make me an introvert? In general, are Cave Dwellers introverts?
Does Quiet = Shy = Introvert?
For this post, I’m going to answer my own question right off the bat: NO! I do not believe Cave Dwellers are introverts (and I hope my use of caps and bold displays the vehemence with which I respond–loudly). Anyone who doesn’t take part in the shenanigans of others pretty much in any given circumstance is in danger of being labeled an introvert. I’ve been called an introvert my entire life although the truth is that I am anything but except in certain social situations. I don’t like parties with people I don’t know; I am not a free-floating gabber at business functions. Does that make me shy? Not necessarily. I consider myself judicious, choosing with whom I connect for idle chatter and playful banter. I’m not a snob either, but there is something about standing in a crowd, drink in hand, listening to chit-chat that sets my nerves on edge.
Merriam-Webster is a B****!
Looking a word up in the dictionary feels very fourth grade to me, not to impugn fourth graders, but it seems to me that as a society, we often allow the definition of a word to inform our beliefs about others. The word introvert seems to have very negative connotations which leads to very negative connotations out in the real world. Take the Merriam Webster definition of introvert for example: one whose personality is characterized by introversion; broadly : a reserved or shy person. Now let’s look at synonyms: shrinking violet, wallflower; related words: mouse, cold fish, iceberg, icicle; and finally, words that rhyme: ambivert, bladderwort, bloody shirt, butterwort, controvert, disconcert, extrovert, feverwort, inexpert, and hobble skirt. (What?) Get my point?
I took a personality test a few years ago and the results were exactly as I expected: competent introvert. I was informed that I had great leadership potential but on the down side, I was thoughtful, reticent, and way too shy. The expert’s recommendation? Become a social drinker. Get out there, hang around in bars, learn to open up to people. (This was the 90s. People said things like this back then.) I think that’s when the interior of my cave became even more appealing than ever before. What is it about being thoughtful and reticent that unnerves people? What does our old pal Merriam say about reticent? Restrained, uncommunicative, silent. Yep, a little negative: “The panel decided to investigate the fraud charges against the company, which has always been reticent about its internal operations.” Bitch! (And I say that in a loving, quiet, shy way.)
A Rose by any other Name . . .
In my ramblings around the internet looking for positive thoughts on cave dwelling, I came across this blog from Exploring Pixie. She has a couple very cool links, too, if you’re interested in the coolness of us. I’m not sure what to call us. Cave Dweller works for me personally. It sums up in a very precise way what it means to be me, a quiet, thoughtful person who chooses to live on the periphery of society, watching, thinking, ready to offer support, assistance, and guidance when necessary. I prefer to glide in on silent wings to take part in life rather than bulldoze my way through the crowd. I’m comfortable in my cave, doing my thing, living my quiet life.