Congratulations on your decision to take the first step towards changing your life. With this short course, we hope to help you feel confident replacing the chaotic, and quite frankly selfish, lifestyle of drawing your energy from interacting with other people, to a more tranquil, altruistic lifestyle of leaving others the hell alone. Our objective for this tutorial, is to help you grab the social butterfly within you, and kill it.
Please pay careful attention to the following instructions:
When you see an acquaintance that you barely know, you must learn to subvert the urge to run up and say hello to them. Contrary to what your many years as an extrovert has led you to believe, nobody actually enjoys small talk. The easiest way to avoid acknowledging an acquaintance is to find a focal point on the horizon, and focus your eyes on said focal point so that the individual is completely obscured from your direct field of vision. Your extrovert eyes will struggle not to wander, but with enough practice, this skill can be mastered quickly. Remember, the trick is to just never make eye contact.
The General Public
Consider a scenario at the grocery store where the cashier is eager to talk. It’s ok to engage, but resist the urge to ask them follow up questions about their own life. No matter how much you may think you do, you do not care about their pets, their plans for the weekend, or even their houseplants. This is just years of your nasty inner social butterfly telling your lies, and another reason why it must be killed. Nod, smile politely, and thank them before collecting your receipt. Remember, you’re an introvert, not an asshole.
Be careful to not call your coworkers too frequently by their correct names, and never, ever wish them a happy birthday. To do so may inadvertently convey the message that you actually want to be friends. The extrovert in you of course wants to be friends, but remember that a proper introvert does not. Keep conversations to a minimum by remembering that more coworker chit chat, equals more potential invitations to multi-level marketing schemes, or worse, dinner parties. Any offers to hang out outside of work should be followed up with a “yes, but is it ok if my pet scorpion comes? I don’t believe in caging him.” Exotic pets can be excellent people deterrents when utilized appropriately.
Friends, Close or Otherwise
Introverts take a different approach to friendships, one that extroverts often find confusing. Consider a scenario where you receive a text from a friend whom you had previously made plans with, most likely while under the influence of delusion. As an extrovert, you would find this exciting, but as an introvert, you will need to learn how to turn that excitement into dread. Tips for learning to subdue your excitement include imagining terrible scenarios, such as people stabbing kittens. The social butterfly in you might be incredibly resistant to subduing your excitement, so while you’re at it, imagine stabbing that too.
In the unfortunate event that your friend texts you to confirm those plans, it will be your role to wait as long as possible to respond to said text, and you must cancel, as it is not an introvert’s nature to follow through on any plans made far in advance. When you do cancel, choose a key descriptor to utilize such as “exhausted,” or “stomach issues.” Such words are basically introvert code for “tonight I prefer to stay in watching Golden Girls reruns while eating hummus with a spoon.” Once you have sent the cancellation text, breathe a sigh of relief and do not feel guilty. Take comfort in knowing there is a good chance this friend of yours may also be a recovering extrovert, and thus you probably made their day by canceling.
Congratulations, you have reached the end of this tutorial. Let’s conclude with a short quiz about parties and travel.
You get an invitation to a party. Which of the following is an acceptable response?
A) RSVP “yes” promptly adding a smiling blush-faced emoji and a “can’t wait!”
B) Wait a few days to respond, as not to look over-eager, and then ask if there is anything you can bring.
The correct answer is none of the above. Selecting A is completely contradictory to every intended outcome of this course. B is unacceptable because, under no circumstances should a proper introvert ever offer in advance to bring something to a party. To do so would create a preliminary obligation to attend, leaving no room to cancel last minute in the event that staying home and eating spoon hummus sounds better the night of the party. C is not ok, because “maybe” is the RSVP equivalent of small talk…nobody fucking likes it. Just respond “no,” instead. In order to pursue a life of being non-committal, you must first and foremost, commit to being non-committal.
You’re on an airplane. Seated next to you is a nice older woman who is eager to talk. She ropes you into conversation with her sweet smile and big, pleading eyes. What is your next course of action?
A) This lady’s life sounds really interesting, and you’d be thrilled to see more photos of her shar peis dressed as Peanuts characters. You ignore the introvert rules about follow up questions, and keep asking away.
B) You listen politely for a few minutes, before putting in your headphones and pretending to be asleep for the remainder of the flight.
C) You pretend to be hard of hearing, and manage to ignore her by saying “what?” at an obnoxious volume so many times that she gives up on trying to talk to you.
If your answer was any of the above, we recommend that you go back and carefully review all of the information in this course. The correct answer is none: this conversation should have never started in the first place. Remember…
the trick is to just never make eye contact.
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Alissa King Peters is a school psychologist by day, and a humor writer mostly by accident. Her work has appeared in Little Old Lady Comedy, and the recycle bin of her computer. Follow her antics on Instagram @alissathing.