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Friday, June 3, 2022

Which Are The Most Introverted Countries ?


So this query began because reading more about Spain (we're considering it for retirement), we have discovered that generally, it is an extremely social culture - they live their lives outside and at restaurants, every single day.  You don't invite people back to your house for a dinner party, you go out and meet them at a restaurant.  

Now, I have taken the Meyers-Briggs many times and I am always firmly on the line between extrovert and introvert - I value my social time equally with my alone time for reading, reflecting, etc. 

As a child, I was fearful of adults (for good reason), so I was very quiet and anxious at school or around other people's parents - but was a social butterfly with other kids.   I had a ton of friends, lots of kids at  birthday parties, the more the merrier - I never tired with social interaction.

It's funny, as a kid, I used to entertain my friends with repeating long jokes or replaying entire comedy skits from the Carol Burnett Show or SNL - but can't do it now, unless I'm with someone I know really well, and though a lot of people think I'm "funny," it's mostly quick, one-liners, faces I make, or silly accents or impersonations of famous people I do, still with one-liners :)

That is because I increasingly developed social anxiety over time, after some events.

So essentially, I'm not a true introvert, because the instinct is there to greet people and ask questions about themselves or their interests, but I would hold back, afraid of saying something stupid, not being interesting or entertaining - afraid of judgment.

If you met me, you might not know it - I say "Hi" and smile to everybody, seem very outgoing, very warm, I will laugh easily and frequently, and am very friendly - you might even think I'm "funny," with one-liners, if I'm comfortable enough.

But then you might see the anxiety it - if I have to talk about myself ;)

My "fear of judgment" of being boring or saying something stupid or weird gets triggered - which actually only makes things weirder - and then I'll start tripping over my words and stumbling and losing my next thought lol.  I also sometimes don't know where to go with conversations or how to end them sometimes.

My husband says that most days, I'm a great conversationalist and you would never know it - but certain people, if I sense a judgmental personality or have to tell a story, I will never say another word lol.

And the main problem is, later, I will go over myself, over and over again, if I said anything stupid, for at least an hour lol - so social interactions will now exhaust me - UNLESS - they're with people I know really well - which is the part I actually find exhausting.

The fact is, I love people - it's they just scare the living sh*t out of me lol.  

I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt I'd like them to give me, until they give me repeated reasons not to (and unfortunately, many have, but yet I still love people).

Essentially, I cautiously will trust you until you give me repeated reason not to - it used to be too many chances, but the general rule these days is 3 strikes, you're out ;).

My husband, Mark, on the other hand, thinks he's an introvert, but so isn't.  He could talk forever to people and never get tired, and give a speech in front of hundreds of people without blinking an eye.

BUT - he does likes his home/quiet time, he doesn't want too many people in the home or too many people up in his business, he just wants to chill.

And contrary to me, despite how he might appear in public - Mark does NOT like people lol 

Opposite of me on this subject, he will distrust you until you prove yourself, he'll make you earn it his trust ;)

So  was thinking, "Is this going to work in Spain?"

So I've been reading on several forums about that, what would happen in Spain if you were introverted, quiet, shy, or had social anxiety?

Interestingly, the answers mostly were essentially, they don't care - they just want you to attend/show up because they love lots of people around.  They don't expect you to talk and entertain - they will fill up any space their ability to talk and entertain.

If you don't show up, they will think you're rude. but other than that, the Spanish don't "demonize" introverts or shyer people like Americans do, and they'll do their best to draw  you out of your shell.

They tend to say whatever they think, very little is considered rude, and thus  social mistakes are easily forgiven. 

However, at the same time, the subjects are different.  They talk about politics and religion openly (because they couldn't for so long), but asking about their work right away is frowned upon.  They want to talk about friends and family, not work.

In fact, the typical American question to get to know someone in America is, "What do you do (for a living)?" 

It's not considered "rude," per se, but it's frowned upon, because you're bringing up their work before they have and thus seems invasive to them, when they just want to have fun and talk about family and friends.   

Regardless, yes - you are expected to be very social and go out - a lot.  

Not just on the weekends, but like 5 nights a week, even if your local cafe or tapas bar, and talk to everybody there.

Hmm, that's a bit much - not just for someone with social anxiety, but financially - you have to budget for that! lol

HOWEVER - the good news for introverts or socially anxious people is, in Spain, they have Siesta time from about 2 to 5.  

Siesta is your home time - you literally leave work for three hours, that's when the local news programs are on, and though apparently very few people nap during this time anymore, this is your recharge time - and then you go back to work until about 6 or 7 - with dinner eaten beginning about 9.

(In Spain, you basically have four mealtimes 3 small-plate meals, with lunch actually being your biggest meal, more like an American dinner, which likely partially accounts for less obesity in Spain, along with a Mediterranean-influenced diet.)

However, I also read a few comments that said if you need less social time or are an introvert, live in a pueblo or outside the city - you will still have social time and know your neighbors, but it's not every night and people are more respectful of privacy.

This started me thinking - is America the most judgmental country in the world, demonizing quiet people?

Well, some might say the UK is more judgmental - but then again, introversion or being more reserved is more accepted. 

Regardless, here in America, if you are quiet, people DO "demonize" and jump to conclusions that you're:

1)  Arrogant.

2)  A nerd (which I don't care about that one, I like nerds lol)

3)  Weird or creepy. 

4)  Don't like people.  

And from what I'm reading, not so with most of the rest of the world - they will either think you're not feeling well or shy and thus will show concern  - and at most, fear you are judging them. 

So of course, there's no expert on the most introverted countries in the world, but some of the same countries keep popping up on all the lists ...

1)  The Scandinavian countries - Iceland, Norway, Finland, Sweden.

2)  Japan.

3)  Eastern European countries. 

 Well, I don't think we'll be moving to any of those countries anytime soon, plus I like a good mix of introverts and extroverts.

Regardless, the biggest takeaway I had from all of these lists and forums is how much more the American culture demonizes introverts than the rest of the world.

We like to think that England and France are worse and snobbier, but the truth is, we snap-judge more quickly than most of the rest of the world and expect perfection, we more of people than the rest of the worlds, don't we?


PS -  After writing that last sentence, I just had a thought based on Biden's speech and the new gun laws.

I agree with all of these changes, as I've stated below - except I think we have to be very careful with the "red flag" laws.

My concern is that classmates will call these hotlines with false accusations as just another form of bullying, especially in junior high or high school - or paranoid people calling them on coworkers or neighbors who are just shy or more private or keep to themselves.

Although we have the perception, here in America, that all mass shooters and serial killers are "quiet and kept to themselves," we're learning that's not necessarily true - and some people are just quiet - that shouldn't be enough to call a hotline on your neighbor, right?

Now, where I live, I know all my neighbors and the staff here, and they know me, despite my social anxiety, so no one here would ever accuse me, or ever believe any accusations like that, (and though social, most of us also respect each other's privacy, not up in everyone's business all the time).

But there are a few people here who don't socialize too much here, will greet and say hello, but that's it - and we shouldn't call the hotline or law enforcement  over it, right? 

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