Things I’ve Never Told Anyone

  • I never went to my junior or senior high school proms because I was too embarrassed to admit I couldn’t pronounce “cummerbund.”

 

  • When people ask me, “What are you thinking?”, I always say what I think they want to hear – even if I’m thinking, “She should really have someone look at the mole.”

 

  • When I die, I’d like to be buried laying on my side watching TV.

 

  • The one thing I wish I could say to strangers is, “You really need to start using deodorant.”

 

  • When asked at job interviews if I like working with people, I always say “yes.” If I was totally honest, I’d say: “No, I do my best work in a moderate-sized rental storage unit.”

 

  • Whenever I wear a mask, I mumble disdainful things about people who aren’t wearing masks.

 

  • When people in passing boats wave at me, I wave back, but my heart isn’t in it.

 

  • I’m so bad at math I can’t even count calories.

 

  • If we’re introduced, I won’t remember your name, but I will remember if you’re missing a tooth.

 

  • When I voted during the last election, I took two “I Voted” stickers in case I forget to vote in the next election.

 

Ben Alper writes for late night talk show hosts, comedians and others. He is the author of “Thank You for Not Talking: A Laughable Look at Introverts.”

Thoughts While in Introvert Lockdown

  • Voted Most Likely to Have Resting Bitch Face — While taking a break from obsessing about nothing in particular, I perused my high school senior yearbook. As I thumbed through page after page of graduating senior photos, one thing stood out: Numerous classmate’s facial expressions were as grim as mine often is. In fact, they looked as if they were about to testify in front of a grand jury. And me? There I was, Mr. Bitchface beaming brighter than a Florida orange juice commercial. The irony of it all made me break out in a semi-grimace.
  • This is why you always see rabbits dining alone — According to the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, introverts are more likely to eat plant-based diets. It also explains why the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) questionnaire doesn’t ask “How would you like your steak cooked?”
  • Extroverts ahoy! — I was standing on a wharf near my house, and a pleasure boat loaded with happy passengers pulled up. They waived at me. I waived back. I felt a bit uncomfortable but also smugly proud. As my hand moved slowly back and forth, I thought: “This won’t suffice for a deep conversation, but I’m sure it will make you feel validated. And by the way, why aren’t any of you wearing masks?

Ben Alper writes for late night talk show hosts, comedians and others. He is the author of “Thank You for Not Talking: A Laughable Look at Introverts.”

Things I’m Selfishly Thankful for During the COVID-19 Pandemic

  • I have enough toilet paper.
  • My wife and I are getting along even though we don’t always agree on disinfecting etiquette.
  • Since I’m an introvert, I’ve adapted easily to social distancing. Quite frankly, I was disappointed when I heard it was six feet and not six miles.
  • After being asked for lifetime, “How come you never smile?’, I love wearing a medical mask. It means I no longer have to lie and respond, “I’m grieving over the death of my pet ameba, Lewis.”
  • I’ve learned to appreciate food that most shoppers don’t hoard—like seagull-flavored gelato.
  • My political action committee has only been Zoom bombed once, by a lonely naked guy who has since become the only group member who truly gets me.
  • When listening to Bob Fosse musicals, my jazz hands are just as expressive with nitrile gloves.
  • Since I’ve always worked at home, I already have cubicles for me and my dog.
  • I live in a state which places more importance in increasing testing than reopening tattoo parlors and Waffle Houses.
  • Did I say I have enough toilet paper?

Ben Alper writes for late night talk show hosts, comedians and things. He is the author of “Thank You for Not Talking: A Laughable Look at Introverts.”

Man Survives Titanic Sinking While Avoiding Eye Contact

SurvivorMost people are familiar with the British passenger liner  Titanic, On April 15, 1912 during its maiden voyage, it struck an iceberg and sank to the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean taking with it more than 1500 passengers.

Few people are familiar with one of the 498 survivors, introvert Felix Flambeau who might have saved the ship had it not been for his reclusive ways.

Flambeau, an itinerant toothpick designer from Boonton, New Jersey was taking his first-ever vacation. Using his life savings, he booked a luxury one-bedroom cabin on the ocean liner. Initially, he was having the time of his life: avoiding passengers, avoiding the crowded buffet lines and avoiding invitations to enter limbo contests.

All that changed on the evening of April 15th when, while seeking some solitude underneath an unoccupied deck chair, he spotted an enormous iceberg ahead of the ship.

Sensing the seriousness of the situation but not wanting to approach a crewmember much less make eye contact with them, Flambeau leaped into action. He made a mental note to write the captain a serious warning note and slip it under his door the next morning.

Tragically, the Titanic struck the iceberg and sank before dawn, denying Felix a place in history as the world’s first introverted hero.

As the ship began to sink into the freezing North Atlantic Ocean, passengers desperately fought to board crowded lifeboats. The dazed Flambeau stood by, witnessing the ensuing chaos. Suddenly, a voice from a panic-stricken hoard offered him a place in their jam-packed boat. Felix didn’t want to go down with the ship, but the idea of spending time in a crowded vessel, making small talk with total strangers was more than he could imagine. He politely declined their generous offer.

Felix Flambeau leaped off the ship’s bow and floated alone in the ice-cold water for two days. During this time rescue ships passed within whispering distance, but he remained silent, not wanting to attract attention to himself. Finally, he was rescued by an Argentine trawler which had spotted “a strange man floating in the water writing post cards.” For the solitary gentleman from Booton, New Jersey, it was the most peaceful and enjoyable part of his vacation.

Unleashing Your Inner Willy Loman

Willy_Loman_01It’s time to let the world know what you have to offer – even if you’re offering 2 for 1 deals on recycled sweat socks.

We get it. You’re an introvert. You don’t like bringing attention to yourself. But face it, it’s hard to succeed if no one knows you or what you do unless you’re being monitored by Homeland Security.

Fortunately, the same skills that got you voted in high school “Most Likely to Strike Up a Conversation with a Potted Plant” can help unleash your inner, socially-averse self-promoter.

Using just a few of your introvert strengths, you can show the world what you have to offer.

  • Listen and observe – (Please note: observing your neighbor through your telescope does not count.) By talking less, and listening and observing more, introverts can pick up on conversational subtleties that others don’t. For example, after one short conversation, you may conclude: “This is the perfect person with whom to merge my multi-national corporation” or “Why doesn’t he trim his nose hairs?”
  • Manage your energy – Attending an entire two-hour networking event is exhausting. Better to cut it down to a more manageable amount of time, say 20 seconds, 25 if the food is good. Then it’s time to head off to the nearest empty coat closet and collapse into an exhausted ball on the floor.
  • Go with your strengths – Why try to sound like an expert nuclear arms negotiator when you can dazzle them with your real strength: sleight of hand magic tricks. It doesn’t matter if your potential employer is looking for an experienced project manager. When delivered with confidence and authority, stories about your years as a one-legged Hooters waitress will seal the deal and put you a hop, step and jump ahead of the competition.
  • Prepare what to say – If you’re too nervous to speak extemporaneously, memorize your talking points. If that’s too hard, bring along a portable teleprompter. And keep it simple. Don’t try to impress with flowery language when monosyllable grunts will suffice. A rule of thumb: Never attempt to remember anything that you’d forget while screaming the same thing during sex.
  • Share your experiences – An entertaining story about convincing a Nigerian prince to buy a non-existent Florida timeshare is bound to help you land a new account or great job. People may not connect your face with your business card, but they’ll never forget the woman who talked about being abducted by a UFO.
  • Build meaningful connections – Introverts excel at one-on-one relationships. They may not remember everyone they encountered at crowded parties, but they remember every conversation, word-for-bark, they had with the host’s pet. Self-promoting for introverts works the same way. Don’t focus on meeting lots of people. Rather, build a relationship with the assistant sales manager with whom you chatted for hours about migratory robots.
  • Be honest with yourself – Introverts are notoriously bad phony phonies. It consumes too much energy – energy that can be used for other endeavors, like endlessly replaying conversations in your head. When in doubt, look at yourself in the mirror (it’s okay to avoid eye contact) and give it to yourself straight. After all, no one knows you better than you – and perhaps your therapist who plans make you the subject of her next book.

Self-Promotion For Recluses

self_promoter_01
Aside from feinting, I thought my presentation went well.

If you’ve ever spent an evening at a networking event wondering which alias to write on your name tag, you know self-promotion can be tough for introverts.

Self-promotion goes against an introvert’s nature. (Some would say better nature.) Unfortunately, it’s hard to succeed without putting yourself out there, even if “out there” feels like having a bad case of acne at a clothing-optional bus stop.

Extroverts love waxing poetic about their achievements. Introverts, on the other hand, would rather stay at home and write in their journal, “Today, I invented a cure for bad foreign accents.”

Unfortunately, unless you’re pursuing a home-based career in envelope stuffing, some self-promotion is required for professional and personal growth.

The good news is the same qualities that impel introverts to avoid social interaction also makes them great self-promoters. For example, you’re not just a person nervously standing alone at a meet-and-greet; you’re an entrepreneur promoting your freelance mime business.

The secret to being a great introvert self-promoter is doing what works for you and then finding people who appreciate you and what you do – whether it’s your creative mind, boundless energy or uncomfortable facial expression.

Deciding When to Decide

TED Squawks – Spreading Ideas Like Fertilizer

Ted_squwalks_01When is the right time to think about when is the right time? Jared Waverino has been asking that question since 1992 when, after 20 years, he decided to move out of his parent’s basement.

In an extraordinary, frank talk, he explains how thinking, rethinking and thinking again can liberate our minds. Jared identifies three key situations at affect living fulfilling and well-thought-out lives: Ordering Big Macs without considering the rest of the menu; Choosing a lover without checking out the dating pool in every other country; and calling 911 without first deciding at least different 10 ways to say “I’ve been robbed!”

Waverino says, “Yes, some societies have progressed by taking bold, quick action, but never forget that before there was ‘We the people’ there was ‘Us the people’ and “Everybody here’.”

Jared Waverino, anthropologist, obsessive neurotic has spent years studying how baboons make choices. He’s the author of the best-selling book “I May or May Not Want Another Banana.”

The Power of Overthinking

 

thethinkerjpgDo you run things over in your mind again and again and again?

Is most of your day consumed by contemplating whether to switch from boxers to briefs?

Have you spent hours beating yourself up because you didn’t complement your Uber driver’s stylishly-trimmed neck line?

Psychologists have a name for this behavior when exhibited by introverts:

It’s called Normal.

In most cases, overthinkers have two options:

  1. Try to stop or moderate your behavior. This might work. You could also end up spending years telling yourself, “I’m going to stop overthinking. I’m going to stop overthinking, I’m going to…”
  2. Use it to your advantage. Some of history’s most famous people were overthinkers: Thomas Edison (“I can’t stop thinking about light bulbs.”); Christopher Columbus (“I can’t believe I told Queen Isabella I’d find a route to the East Indies or die trying.”); and Fleetwood Mac (“Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow.”)

Overthinking is not a curse. It’s a gift. A gift that keeps giving and giving and giving until it gives you an idea that cures cancer or endless ways to say to neurotic semi-strangers, “I’m sorry. I’m just not into couples counselling on the first date.”

Oddly Happy Odd Couples

Are you skeptical about introvert/extrovert relationships? Let these couples set you straight.

 odd_couple_07 Marshall: When we met, we didn’t think we had a thing in common. Then we realized we both love small-time robberies and driving getaway cars.

Lisa: I won’t lie, Marshall’s long periods of silence sometimes bother me, but he more than makes up for it when he wakes up during the night screaming.

 odd_couple_02 Babs: I appreciate Sam’s life experiences, like being declared legally dead for three years.

Sam: Babs gets me out of the house and shows me another view of the world. Without her, I’d never experience the pure joy of taking her laundry to the dry cleaners.

 odd_couple_03 Julie: Jerry doesn’t always understand my need for alone time, especially when I’m hibernating. But there’s something about him I find so attractive, especially his cute smile when he chews on a wildebeest.

Jerry: My friends said we’d have nothing in common, but I fell in love with Julie the second I saw her trying to catch a fish in a river.

 odd_couple_04 Carmella: Romaine respects my need for my own space. Sometimes up to three inches apart.

Romaine: Carmella has a quiet side that I may never understand, as she may never grasp my desire to spend months with the Guatemalan National badminton team. Still, the only thing that can separate us is a severe cold.

 odd_couple_01 Francesca: It was tough when we first started dating. I wanted to go out and party every night. He wanted to stay home and read or talk about his dust bunny collection.

Lionel: Francesca opened my eyes to new world. I’m still quiet and shy, but have to admit I love going with her to clothing-optional Bingo nights.

 odd_couple_06 Spiros: I never believed I’d ever meet a woman who would understand an uncontrollably-sobbing introvert like me until I met Titania – as opposed to most people who find me unintelligible when I’m weeping.

Titania: Truth be told, I’ve never been turned on by bawling baby types, but there’s something tender and otherworldly about Spiros. I can’t take my eyes off him when he’s crawled up in a fetal position.

 odd_couple_05 Bert: We’ve always had a great working relationship. We respect our differences and give each other space. I’ve treasured our time together.

Ernie: There was a time when we both questioned our sexual identity. (It doesn’t help not having genitalia.) Then we said, “What the hell, being an introvert/extrovert couple is the least of our problems.

Bert: It would take more than extended periods of bone-chilling silence to wipe the smile off this puppet’s face.

 

You Say Potato And I Daydream Potato

opposites-attract-1
Mom, Dad, doesn’t Neil have the nicest eyes?

Most introverts would rather be in a relationship with another introvert. It makes sense. Who better to understand your solitary ways than someone who also requests a table for one at wedding receptions?

However, since there are more extroverts than introverts, it’s highly probable you could end up with an otherwise wonderful person who belongs to a 20,000-member book club.

Is it possible for an introvert and an extrovert have a normal, happy, fulfilling relationship? People have been asking that question since the first caveman told his wife, “Yes, I realize we’re surrounded by man-eating hyenas, but I really need to take a walk and be alone.”

Opposites often attract because each one offers what the other is missing: Introverts are amazed at extroverts’ openness and ability to demand a waitress replace a half-cooked entrée. Extroverts appreciate introverts’ thoughtfulness and are astonished they can listen to a grief-stricken relative deliver a lengthy eulogy without continually interrupting.

Introvert/extrovert relationships often work because each partner compliments the other. The extrovert can liven up the introvert and confirm they’re still breathing, while the introvert can calm the extrovert down and convince them not to sucker punch the policeman who pulled them over for running a stop sign.

Can an introvert/extrovert relationship work for you? To succeed, each side must be open to what the other has to offer and do it with a minimum of passive aggression. In the end, it comes down to chemistry or finding enough chemicals to keep you happy and sedated.