Monday, April 27, 2015

The thing about being an introvert...

  1. Introverts are people who primarily look inward, paying close attention to their thoughts and emotions. It's not that they are incapable of paying attention to what is going on around them, it's just that their inner world is much more stimulating and rewarding to them. - Link
A few years ago, I self-diagnosed myself as being an introvert and I began reading up about other introverted people: how to deal with them, how to deal with being one, what does if feel like to be an introvert, what are the signs... The moment I learned about what introversion was, it was as if a piece of the puzzle that I am was finally put in place. Introversion explained so much about the things that I did and about how I reacted to different situations.

I often get told by other people that they wish they were more like  me: reserved, soft spoken, calm, analytic, political in the way I choose my words, etc. It's so strange hearing these things because all of my life, I have fought against all of those characteristics. I have always wished I was a bit more loud, a bit more energetic and charismatic,  a bit more of "the life of the party". To me, being the way I am was not as great as some of those people think.

So what does it feel like to be an introvert? Well I can't speak for anyone else here, but here a the gist of how I experience it.

First of all, I feel guilty. All. The. Time. I feel guilty over no texting my friends more. I feel guilty over not calling my parents more often. I feel guilty for being just about the worst pen pal in all of humanity. I feel guilty for so many reasons, which makes me feel so incredibly lonely because I ultimately feel like no one understands me. I am rarely the one who will make the first contact. I am rarely the one who sends friend requests on Facebook. I am more than happy to talk to someone when they approach me, but I will rarely ever approach someone. Because of that, I feel guilty because we live in a world where extroverted people are celebrated and so it's as if it's expected of everyone, but I find it so incredibly energy consuming that I can't bring myself to be that way. 

Small talk is seriously draining. Nothing makes me more nervous than being around someone I feel is expecting me to talk when I have nothing to say. I'm not one to ramble on just for the sake of it. I'm not trying to be rude, I am most certainly not shy, and I probably like you very much. However, for me to actually say something, I need to feel that what I have to say is important. It's not that I have nothing to talk about, it's simply that if I don't feel like I have anything interesting enough to say at the moment, I'm not going to say anything at all.

I am terrible at interviews, because I don't like to "sell myself".  Even with this blog, very few of my family and friends know about it, because I don't like to talk about my accomplishments. While I have a lot to celebrate, I am way too self conscious and worried that I would come across as bragging if I talked about them.

Finally, being around loud people makes me nervous. When I'm surrounded by people who talk loudly or who are in a bad mood, I loose any ability to think straight or even to speak. I get nervous and most often than not, I will come up with the reason that they're upset is somehow my fault (refer to my first point).

While I sometimes still wish I could be a bit more of an extrovert, I have come to realise that being an introvert certainly has its perks.

First, I have so much pride in the fact that I know myself as well as I do. By spending so much time on my own and with my own thoughts, I have learned to become confident in following my gut feeling. All my life, I have walked my own path accordingly to how I felt about things and I am so incredibly proud of myself for it because I have done and seen amazing things. I would never trade all of my experiences for being more outgoing and social. 

Also, by being such an observant and thought centred person, I rarely put my feet in my own mouth, as I'm always thinking twice before saying anything. This has saved me from countless troublesome situations, especially when dealing with people that aren't exactly calm which, as a teacher, can come in quite handy.

I chose my close friends carefully. There are only a selected few with whom I feel comfortable enough to show my true self and because of that, the ones that I do let in become lifelong fixtures in my life, which is fantastic because I have surrounded myself with amazing people and I am lucky to have them by my side.

Finally, being an introvert has allowed me to be an excellent listener. Using active listening skills comes naturally to me, as I am much more inclined to focus on what the speaker is actually saying and not on what I want to say. They do say that we have 2 ears and 1 mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we talk...

The thing that easily gets overlooked when it comes to introverted people is that we are not this way on purpose. We do not need time alone because we don't like other people. We don't need a time-out because we don't want to be around others. We need it to sustain our sanity and energy. Everybody is an introvert to a certain degree; some are just more than others and by respecting each other's needs on this matter, many miscommunication issues could be avoided.

No longer do I wish to change who I am because being an introvert is a big part of me and I have worked so hard to become the woman that I am today. Learning to accept yourself is a lifelong journey and regardless of what type of personality you have, what is important is not to focus on the negatives aspects, but to celebrate the positive ones. 

What are your thoughts on this subject? For the introverts out there, does what I describe sound similar that what you experience? And for the extroverts, how does it differ from your reality?

Yours truly, Bien la vôtre,

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, Martine! I never even heard that word before, but a lot of what you wrote describes how I feel lots of times! Especially the part of feeling guilty, not one to advance and start conversations at social events! Rather listen to what others have to say, than to babble on myself.....
And I do not have the nerves around people who are angry or fighting, I clam up and either don't say anything or I have to leave the room!
I'm not a flashy person, and I need a lot of my own time! I will definitely read up on this more to see if I have anymore similarities! Thank you Martine for sharing!