LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF INTROVERSION
The book, The Introvert Advantage, changed my life. I didn’t know that there were others like me out there because I was not familiar with the concept of introversion. After reading the book, the lightbulb came on and just like that - self awareness and within a few years, self-acceptance was found.
There was a tribe of people out there just like me and I had to find them. Yes, I loved my extrovert friends but at times, I struggled to fit in. That was over 20 years ago and I have great friends (both introverts and extroverts) but I still find myself having to explain why I enjoy being alone, why silence doesn’t bother me and why I get drained, not energized by lengthy conversations.
A few weeks ago, I attended a local arts festival solo and walked around for about 3 hours in complete peace. Occasionally, I wondered if the experience would be enhanced if I had some friends with me. It very likely would have been; however, I also feared that I would spend most of the time speaking, instead of listening and observing the beauty all around. That is the life of an introvert - you often feel a desire for company but also know that you will be perfectly fine alone.
Recently, a friend and I were discussing his quiet nature and he said, “I prefer to be interested, rather than try to be interesting.” In being interested, he achieved both ideals. This is why introverts make such good friends; we listen with interest, we remember important details and we cultivate deep friendships.
Here is a snapshot of what my life has been like through the lens of introversion. There is still some negativity and misunderstanding associated with introversion; I hope that this will cause the lightbulb to come on for someone else who may be feeling awkward and alone. Own your introversion! It is an amazing feeling to finally own and walk in our beautiful truth.
My Life as an Introvert
Introversion - batteries charged from the inside; frequent recharge needed. Enjoys company but also loves quiet time to reflect.
Since I was a little girl, all the factors below have applied to my life in some respect.
- Feeling lonely but loving solitude.
- Having a great time with friends but sneaking away to recharge.
- Not needing to talk much but wanting to be heard and understood when I do speak.
- Dreading public speaking because all eyes will be on me.
- Special hate for public speaking when volunteered by an extrovert. Introverts wouldn’t do this to each other :-).
- Rising to the occasion but hating every minute of it. Every. Single. Time.
- Great speaker when I have the time to prepare and organize my thoughts.
- Literally jumping for joy when something that I wasn’t passionate about gets cancelled.
- Feeling queasy right after making plans. The regret comes quickly.
- But I am a “social introvert” so I go out and I have a great time.
- Perfected the art of having a great time and leaving before my batteries are drained.
- Being accused of not being an introvert because I love to socialize.
- Although, I have never been accused of being the life of the party. Not once. Not ever.
- Introversion fully suppressed when the music is playing and I am dancing. I have closed may dance parties. No speaking required when dancing.
- Don’t try to make conversation with a dancing introvert. I am completely living in my head and the music is ruling my brain; same rule for an introvert who is quietly reading a book.
- Explaining that I am an introvert and that it means needing time to recharge my batteries.
- Being called shy. While introverts can also be shy, I am not shy.
- Conversationally deficient when it comes to small talk. Prone to head nodding.
- Not making many friends but the friends that I make are for life.
- Being considered boring.
- Having acquaintances write me off as anti-social or not friendly.
- All my report cards - smart but needs to speak more.
- Getting called on by my law school professor and hiding behind a chair because I can’t function when called on unexpectedly.
- Deer in the headlight syndrome.
- Accused of not being the author of a writing assignment because it wasn’t in my voice by someone who is not familiar with my “voice” because I was so quiet.
- Rarely thinking of the right thing to say at the right time.
- Regretting not finding the right words. Having the perfect answer 30 minutes after the conversation has ended.
- Brain freeze!
- Still regretting not haven’t adequately explained myself in a conversation that I had 2 years ago.
- Not finding my voice until in my late 20s.
- The stress of living in the same space as extroverts who need constant conversation.
- Constantly saying, “I’m fine!” Really. I just have nothing to say.
- Explaining that I will speak when I have something important to say.
- I can drive for a few hours without speaking to anyone in the car. I am in my head and very happy there.
- I love cats! They are my soulmates.
- I love books! I can be lost in a book for hours.
- I love music; it was my best friend as a child.
- Plants are my friends.
- I can go almost everywhere alone and be perfectly fine.
- I talk as much as an extrovert does but the conversations are mostly in my head.
- I replay almost every sentence in my head several times before it actually comes out my mouth.
- I can express my thoughts well in writing.
- I am a great listener.
- If you try to make me feel weird for being an introvert, I will start avoiding you like the plague.
Not all introverts have the same experience but I am sure that all introverts will relate to a few of these truths. If you are an extrovert, welcome to our world. The important truth that I have learned over the years is that there is no deficiency associated with the introverted mind. Our way of seeing the world and operating in it is just as valid as our extroverted brothers and sisters. It is vitally important for every introverted child to understand their nature and realize that they are perfectly made.
About the author: Janet Autherine is a proud introvert, mother of 3 boys (1 introvert), author, poet and blogger at Autherine Publishing and creator of the Growing into Greatness: Women Leaving Footprints in the Sands blog, which features the untold stories of amazing women. More of her writing can be found at www.JanetAutherine.com.