If you are a normal group, perhaps half of you will be introverts; if you are one of those introverts, you won’t feel normal. You will feel out of step with most people, as if you are marching to a different drummer. That is because our education system, most businesses and society in general is set up to address extrovert values.
Extroverts are far more outgoing and feed off each others energy. They enjoy large noisy social gatherings and abhor being alone. Attending sporting events and rallies, brainstorming ideas with others, gab sessions with friends, and the world of texting intimate details to people you have never met are all extroverted activities. Busybodies and fast-talking salespeople fit into this group as well.
The world of extroverts encourages group involvement and rewards. It attempts to draw people in who would rather just observe. “Wow, everyone, look what Mary can do!” “That a boy, Billy, that was much better this time!”
Encouragement and recognition are great, but for an introvert, it is much more appreciated on a one on one basis.
I am very much an introvert and used to be very shy as well. They often go hand in hand but are not the same. The shyness is often brought on by the difficulties involved in fitting in. It is very difficult to do but I served seven years in the army without getting a promotion. I focused on keeping my head down and not being noticed. Much to my detriment, I became very good at it.
The only success I ever achieved in behaving like an extrovert (if you can call it an achievement) was when I was drinking. It was a mask of normalcy that never brought me happiness.
I began to turn my life around more than forty years ago by addressing my issues of low self-esteem. A failed marriage was behind me as well as a number of other challenges. I finally faced reality and reached out for help. Becoming more engaged with people, I learned to look for common ground rather than our glaring differences. I had to learn to respect others as well as myself.
My shyness melted away as my self-esteem gradually rose. My introspective nature had led me to study many things which I then began to give talks on. Now, I love public speaking and putting on workshops. Toastmasters is a good fit for me as it is very structured with everyone having a role. I came to realize that the quality of our lives is determined by how effectively we learn to communicate.
That did not change my introspective personality. I very much enjoy watching a football game on television without the hubbub of the crowds and joining in the wave as it rolls around the stadium. I also make out just fine in the absence of the cheers and jeers of excited fans.
I do not engage in games, pokes or the chatter of social media, nor do I need constant endorsement of the minutia of my activities. As an introvert, I much prefer speaking to people face to face noting their body language, facial expressions, tone of voice and inflections. Those things cannot be expressed with one’s thumbs.
If most extroverts followed me around for a week, they would likely find it both boring and confusing. I love my life and find it richly rewarding with many opportunities both to learn new things and to reach out to help others. My alone time, both in meditation and in other activities, is very important to me.
That is an introvert’s perspective I know that many people will share and others wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. Understanding that everyone does not think and engage in life in the same manner is important. This is not a cookie cutter world as much as we have been led to believe.
If you or someone close to you is an introvert, realize that the world does not look the same as it does for extroverts.
For more information about introversion, go to www.introvertspring.com
“…I also believe that introversion is my greatest strength. I have such a strong inner life that I’m never bored and only occasionally lonely. No matter what mayhem is happening around me, I know I can always turn inward.” – Susan Cain