Many introverts have become accustomed to hearing the phrase “come out of your shell”. And by ‘accustomed’ I mean we’ve heard it a lot, but it still annoys the heck out of us. So, in the spirit of comradery, I thought I’d share with you a few reasons why we don’t need to come out of our shell.
What Do They Mean?
First things first: what do others mean when they say, “come out of your shell”? The implication is that we are in some kind of self-imposed prison. People think that they are doing us a favor by offering to liberate us from our confinement. To them, freedom looks a lot like Mardi Gras in New Orleans. They can’t fathom that it might look different for us.
Shell vs. Prison
Contrary to what others think, an introvert’s shell is not a form of imprisonment. Prisons are meant to punish. Shells are meant to protect. Many prisons also have the goal of curing or correcting inmates (hence the word “correctional facility”). An introvert’s shell is more like a shield that preserves our inherent awesomeness. It does this by protecting us from over stimulating environments, conversation vampires (people who constantly talk but never listen), and probably zombies (haven’t had a chance to test this out yet).
A shell is like a super lightweight home away from home. I can, and do, take my shell all around the world with me. In fact, it is what prevents me from burning out as I travel. Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed or exhausted, I can put up my invisible shield and prevent a full-on meltdown. This last point is the clincher and I think it is the one that extroverts have a really difficult time understanding. When an introvert retreats into her shell, it means she needs to create some separation between herself and the surrounding environment. This is not the time to go dancing through the streets of Mardi Gras.
Our shells have magical powers that allow it to decipher potential friends from people we just tolerate. The latter category is made up of pretty much anyone who tells us to come out of our shell. When we are with people we love, the shell automatically recedes because we know that these individuals won’t try to change us or drain our energy. Our true friends recognize that bullying someone into behaving a certain way is obnoxious, which brings me to my next point:
What Is Their Motivation?
When someone tells you to “come out of your shell”, they are doing so for their own peace of mind. On the surface it appears that this person just wants you to have fun. This is partly true. The deeper reason is that they cannot have fun unless they believe that you are having fun. It is a form of codependency that is drenched in guilt. If we then change our behavior to make them feel better, we are also acting out of guilt. As I’ve said before, we should be driven by our convictions, not by guilt.
That pretty much sums it up. If I missed any shell superpowers, feel free to leave them in the comments section below.