Almost all superheroes are introverts, and our extrovert driven world loves them. This guide will teach you how to be a guilt-free, comfortable introvert using tried and true tactics of your favorite superheroes.
Tactic #1: Recharging is Key
All superheroes know that the pressures of life and supervillians can wear an introvert down. Any social interaction from courting your love interest to chasing after bad guys takes energy. Unlike the Green Lantern (an extrovert), you can’t just turn to your handy source of infinite power- you have to take the time to recharge. Weapons that don’t get recharged won’t work, and you are your best weapon.
Recharging is any activity that makes you feel ready to face the world. Read a book. Play a video game. Bake a cake. Plant a flower. Go for a run (but leave the bad guys alone). Fly to your ice castle in the arctic for some alone time. In fact…
Tactic #2: Establish a Fortress of Solitude
Or a Batcave. Or a gym with 1940’s decor where you can box in peace. If you haven’t grown into your superpowers yet, your car might do in a pinch. The point is to have a place you can go where no one requires anything from you. Recharging isn’t just a matter of an activity; the location is important too.
Interacting with people requires mental barriers to preserve energy. Unfortunately, keeping those barriers in place also requires energy. Introverts need a place where those barriers can deactivate. No barrier can be kept up all the time, and trying will just burn up your reserves.
Tactic #3: Find Allies
The Avengers. The Justice League. The Fantastic Four. The PowerPuff Girls.
Superheroes don’t always travel in packs, but everyone needs a team sometimes. Its vitally important to have a team you can work with.
Just as you need a place to recharge, you need friends who don’t require inhuman effort to be around. Whether or not you have inhuman abilities you need company that lets you just be.
Most introverts don’t like parties or bars or international peace conferences. They may play well with others (or they may be Wolverine) but large groups of “others” cause fatigue and over stimulation.
Find a core of other heroes who like the things you do. Board or video games give everyone something to do without requiring excess conversation. Go kayaking or hiking with some friends. I’ve found abstract coloring books can keep adults entertained for hours. Whatever you like to do I promise there is someone around who does too, and won’t require all your energy in exchange for their company.
The bonus of hanging with other introverts is that they rarely question quirks others might.
Superheroes never ask other superheroes:
“Why don’t you ever stick around after a fight?”
“Do you have to wear that mask all the time?”
“I know you just saved the world, but do you want to go party with me?”
Avoid having to explain yourself by being with people who understand you.
Tactic #4: Tell Your Spouse
The classic superhero story line includes both a secret identity and a love interest. These two elements make for endless angst and tight situations (Oh no! I lost my mask and the love of my life needs to be rescued!) As the audience, we love these melodramas. There is nothing more deliciously excruciating than waiting for secrets to be revealed.
When the love interest finally learns the identity of the superhero, are they ever bummed? Who gets upset when a normal human turns out to be a superhuman saving the world? Don’t you think Lois Lane would have been all about Clark if she had just known the whole time?
In your introvert interactions, skip to that pivotal identity-revealing episode. You partner is the ultimate ally and needs to know your strengths and weaknesses. Pretending to be someone else does not build strong relationships, and pretending to be an extrovert will just wear you down. Anyone worth being with will love you for all of your quirks, including the fact that you need a nap after a party or that you use your opposable simian toes to hang upside down from the ceiling when you’re thinking.
Chances are, they’ll think your toes are cute.
Tactic #5: Have an Escape Plan
Your partners and allies may understand you, but the rest of the world cannot be counted upon. The world may not be filled with your mortal enemies, but it can be excellent at unintentionally causing you stress. It is important that you must have a way to escape sticky situations.
Most introverts can remember a time when they just needed to get out. Maybe the day was longer than you expected and you can’t manage that double date at the bowling alley. Maybe you’ve had enough team building activities for the day. Maybe saving all of New York justifies you having some shwarma in peace.
Whatever the set up, there is no reason you have to tell the truth. White lies and alibis are very useful when you’re trying to save the world. Many people understand “I’m sorry, but I’m too tired to pretend to have fun at the bar,” as well as they understand “I’m sorry, but (insert villain here) is trashing downtown and its up to me to stop them.”
Give the people something they’ll believe. Promises to other (possibly nonexistent) people- parents of any age are great for this. Work things. Homework. Painting your garage. Washing your dog. Tuning up the Batmobile. If you aren’t good at making up excuses on the spot, use things you really do need to do…just not necessarily right that minute.
And always drive separately when possible.
Tactic #6: Don’t Apologize
When you’re making your escape, remember that you have no reason to feel bad about taking care of yourself. On the rare occasion that a superhero apologizes for who they are, we come back with cries of support. We don’t agree with them; we’re angry that they would ever think such a thing!
Why are you any different? Maybe your world-saving moves don’t involve the Speed Force or multiple explosions in a four-block radius, but that doesn’t make your efforts any less meaningful.
Being confident in your identity is just as important for an introvert as an extrovert- possibly more so, because the world is less likely to commend you for your best traits. You may work in secret, but often secrets hold the keys to progress.
The world needs progress. The world needs you.