Someone said that to me the other day. And I thought hmm, and being a good Introvert I mulled it over for a while to pin down what I thought about that. I certainly had a lot of thoughts about that. The next logical step was to figure out what I had to say about that. Here are some things I have to say about that.
I don’t struggle with my Introversion. Other people struggle with my Introversion. And it is specifically Extroverts who struggle with my Introversion. They struggle because they don’t understand. Now whether they don’t understand from a lack of awareness or ignorance or from a psychological make-up that precludes understanding, I don’t know. I just now that it’s their struggle to understand, not mine.
What I struggle with is Extroverts who treat my Introversion like a disease or a condition to be cured. As if I really try or get therapy I can be like them. Seriously? The last thing in the world I want is to be like them.
I’m proud of my Introversion. I consider it a huge strength. It makes me who I am. And I like who I am. My Introversion gives me super powers I would not trade for all the awesome parties and endless small talk in the world. Am I still a wallflower at parties? Absolutely. But the thing, you see, about being a wallflower is that you are a flower. Flowers are pretty awesome. Time to stop and smell the roses.
Do I have weaknesses? Of course, everyone does. Introversion just isn’t one of mine.
I right up tell people I’m an Introvert. If they get one thing about me they need to get that. It’s not an apology. It’s not an Oh, you’ll have to excuse my Introversion. It’s a Samuel L. Jackson, I’m an Introvert, Mother Fucker! So take notice. Especially you Extroverts who may be missing the aforementioned lack of awareness.
If you take my reserved nature and proclivity to think before I speak as lack of surety or temerity, your interaction with me isn’t going to end well. I have opinions. They’re just not perpetually rattling out of my mouth.
If you think my intuitive opinions are less valuable because they aren’t backed up by facts and figures, you aren’t paying attention. There’s more to the world than facts and figures. There’s perceptions and emotions and attitudes. This is how Introverts think. These are the things that turn facts and figures into complex ideas. And they’re important. That’s why we think about them.
Why do I tell you these things? So you can be aware. Awareness is the beginning of understanding.
Am I trying to say my Introversion doesn’t cause me struggles? Of course not. But the struggle is with the world around me that I can’t control, not with my Introversion. Give me the strength to accept what I cannot control. That’s what they say. And that’s true for all of us.
Do some people struggle with their Introversion? Certainly. Does your trying to help fix their Introversion help? Certainly not. Like when you see an Introvert at a party and think you should help by introducing them to a circle of people so they can join the conversation. Wrong. You’re treating them like an Extrovert. You’ve just introduced them into a group dynamic they don’t like or feel comfortable with. Want to help? Remember what an Introvert is. Introverts like one on one conversation. Walk up to them and have a non-small talk conversation with them that lasts more than a minute. They’ll like that. Know your audience.
Want to help your struggle with Introverts? Educate yourself on Introvert traits. And then be aware. Even if you can’t fathom why they would be like that. I don’t know how or why a nuclear reactor works. But I know it can provide me with electricity and I know I shouldn’t stick my hand in it. My awareness allows me to interact meaningfully with it.
Shouldn’t Introverts educate themselves on Extroverts as well, you ask? Oh, but we are educated. We are immersed in the culture Extroverts have built from the day we are born. We are shamed and guilted for not participating in it. We pretend to accept it or we isolate ourselves from it. And of course when we isolate ourselves from it we are viewed as weird and anti-social. Nonconforming outcasts.
Our goal isn’t to be outcast though. It’s not a case of rebellion. It’s a case of survival. We isolate ourselves because we grow weary of being shamed. No one wants to be shamed. There’s no joy in that.
What we would like is to be integrated. But until the shaming goes, the integration isn’t going to happen. Unfortunately for Extrovert society the shaming is on it. That’s a tough pill to swallow, I know, but we have to acknowledge it to move forward.
And while the burden to change is certainly on Extrovert society, the burden to make it an issue is on Introverts. Yet getting up in people’s grills about things is not an Introvert tendency. We are not naturally militant. But some of us will have to be. I’ll volunteer to be a Militant Introvert. Will you?
It will be our Alter Ego fighting for the cause. Like masked super heroes. Sometimes we’ll have to be obnoxious and blunt. Sometimes we’ll have to be outrageous and far-fetched. We’ll make people uncomfortable. We’ll be uncomfortable.
Behaviors don’t change without discomfort. We’ll all need courage to be uncomfortable. I promise you it will be worth it.
As for those seeking more awareness or education here are some good sources:
Susan Cain, author of “Quiet”
The Introverts Way by Sophia Dembling.