By Michelle Riddell
If you have internet access, chances are you have taken one of those self-diagnostic tests for the latest health syndrome or personality disorder. Don’t be ashamed—we all have. Most likely you tested positive for whatever it was because, quite frankly, everyone does. If you remove eggs from the carton the same way each time, you have OCD; if you get a little gassy after drinking a large vanilla milkshake, you are lactose intolerant; if you say “I love you” to your boss on the phone by mistake because you’re texting your husband at the same time, you have ADD; if you get stir crazy after being trapped indoors with children from November to March, you have seasonal affective disorder; and my personal favorite, if you miss your dog when you leave home, you suffer from agora-anxiety and are in need of a service animal.
The latest in this string of debilitating-yet-invisible afflictions—easily detected by taking a three-minute quiz on BuzzFeed—is being an introvert.
What we used to refer to as “being shy” now has its own Wikipedia page, citing murky research that suggests an “introvert gene.” I know people who are already wearing this label like a badge of honor and using it as an excuse: “I can’t organize the class party; I’m an introvert.” Soon, we will have to accommodate for introverts in all kinds of social settings where guts and brash assertiveness once ruled. I can already picture a chat-free Introverts Only Line at the grocery store; bumper stickers that read Caution: Introvert On Board, Keep Obscene Gestures to a Minimum; or soundproof stalls in public bathrooms marked Introvert Inside, for those mortifying moments away from home.
Before we rashly accept this as a legitimate disability and have throngs of meek, blushing claimants expecting a free pass, I propose another test (every bit as scientific) that will disqualify any poser introverts from future entitlements. Be warned. If any of the following statements applies, YOU ARE NOT AN INTROVERT:
1. You own a selfie stick.
2. You openly admit to owning a selfie stick.
3. You have a colorful, meandering tattoo on your neck or face.
4. The birth of your first child was filmed with your consent.
5. You wear shorts with graphic lettering across the fanny, in public.
6. FOMO is your signature tag on social media and appears in your predictive text.
7. You were pulled up on stage to dance after being spotted by Bruce Springsteen during the making of a pop-hit video, then went on to star in the most successful TV sitcom ever. (Yes, folks, she claims to be an introvert.)
8. You have no qualms telling all your co-workers that you and your husband are desperately trying to get pregnant again.
9. You frequently change your Facebook profile picture to freshen things up for your followers.
10. You’re comfortable using the phrase, “my followers.”
11. You can’t wait for your next high school reunion.
12. You paid your way through college by modeling nude for figure drawing classes in the art department.
13. On your birthday, you let everybody know it’s your birthday.
14. You’re disappointed when the waiting room at your kid’s doctor’s office is empty because ☹ no new friends.
15. Your wedding dress had both a bustle and an eight-foot train.
16. You wear a shirt that says, “Ask me about selling Amway!”
17. You teach aerobics.
18. You breastfeed uncovered in public. (Not judging, just saying you’re not an introvert.)
19. You look forward to PTA meetings for the camaraderie of group complaining.
20. You started a union at your health club to hone your leadership skills.
21. You enjoy shopping on Black Friday.
22. You’re a regular on the karaoke circuit.
23. You tell everybody you meet that you’re an introvert.
The thing about being an introvert is, once you start spouting out about how much of an introvert you are, you’re blown. It’s a catch 22. But don’t be discouraged; if you need a syndrome to feel intact, I’ve heard the gluten sensitives don’t discriminate.
About Michelle Riddell
Michelle Riddell lives in rural mid-Michigan with her family and poodles. Her writing has been featured on Hello Dearest, Mamalode, Club Mid, Good Mother Project, and others. She is an editor at Mothers Always Write and a rock star substitute teacher. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.