One of the most liberating things I have experienced, in most recent years, has been to understand what being an introvert really means.
Just recently, I started reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, (a book gift that I received from someone dear, who’s also an introvert). So far, the book explains everything I have ever experienced, during the course of my life. I was particularly struck by something I read early on: Children were generally discouraged from being “shy” and/or “quiet”. Parents were encouraged to “socialize” their children, from a very early age, so they would “learn” to be gregarious and develop “more interesting” personalities. In my experience, there was some truth to that. I hasten to add that my parents never made me feel “flawed” for being shy or quiet; my father worked graveyard shifts at a freight company, so my mom was “expected” to keep us quiet while he caught up on his sleep. Apparently, my quiet nature made that easy for her; various people I have met, throughout my life, weren’t so understanding.
Further on in the book, I read something that, quite frankly, made my brain hurt. The author described how many colleges preferred gregariously “well-rounded” people who maintained average grades over those who quietly excelled in their studies. “Brilliant” people were often overlooked BECAUSE they were introverted. Sorry, but that’s just way too painful to read. Painful. I do understand how the world works. Truly. But when I think about the long-term effects of this mentality, I can’t help but wonder just how different the world would be if the “brilliant introverts” had been appreciated, supported…chosen. That would suggest endless possibilities, which boggles my mind.
The magic of the Internet helps us all to see the world from many perspectives. Thanks to sites, social networking and various other informational sites, there is an increased awareness of the difference between introverts and extroverts. With this awareness comes a greater understanding and, hopefully acceptance, of those differences. Each of us has varying degrees of introvertedness and extrovertedness, depending on circumstances, experiences, environment, upbringing. We must learn to embrace, appreciate, accept, understand the unique part of our personalities, and that of those around us. Additionally, we would do ourselves and each other a great service to articulate what we want people to know about us.
In an effort to help people understand my introvertedness, I list the following points:
~ The periods of silence between contact is nothing personal. I am just keeping busy and lose track of time. And I’m enjoying my much-needed solitude.
~ Small, intimate gatherings with close friends are great; huge crowds, big parties, which involve having to talk over loud noise or music fill me with anxiety. I can’t help it.
~ Being home is enjoyable. I always have something to keep myself occupied and don’t feel the need to go out, for the sake of going out.
~ Meeting new friends, one or two at a time, is less stressful than meeting a larger group of people I’ve never met.
~ When I’ve had enough, it means I feel overwhelmed and am losing my ability to focus. I need to withdraw and digest.
~ Please don’t rely on your first impression of me. Once you get to know me, you’ll find that I’m not the shy, quiet person you think I am.
I welcome other perspectives, experiences from my readers. How has being introverted or extroverted affected your life? Did you ever feel overlooked because you were shy or quiet? Do you ever feel misunderstood, labeled, dismissed? Comments and feedback are welcome.