Introverts Unite!

There’s my rallying cry.

Susan from The Confident Introvert posted a comment on my angst-ridden Hermit post. I checked out her blog. This is a woman who speaks my language.

In addition to her insightful posts, she links to a 2003 piece in The Atlantic Monthly entitled, “Caring for Your Introvert,” which helped me re-learn about myself, and learn a few new things, too, like why I enjoy speaking to large groups of people but feel overwhelmed in small groups. Actually, it didn’t explain why that was, just that often that’s the case with introverts. I like having a podium between me and a crowd. I do fairly well “working” a crowd. I always volunteered for these tasks back in my full-time working days, and I’ve always felt like I must be a “fake” introvert because of this, but apparently it’s fairly common for people who feel comfy in front of a hundred people to feel totally awkward in front of ten or fifteen.

Buoyed by Susan’s blog and her confidence as an introvert, I want to dedicate myself to living as my authentic, introverted Self. I can request to have a smaller, more intimate get-together with one or two moms rather than going out with a group to a restaurant or to an all-request piano bar (which turns out to be a variation of Hell for me). If I go to hear live music, I can make sure it’s a small venue with a corner I can hide in so I don’t feel so exposed. I can give myself permission to just stay home with a book or my blog if I need to recharge. And I can let myself leave the silences I’m accustomed to leaving in conversations as I consider what the other person has just said and what my reply should be. If other people fill in that silence without letting me speak, I suppose they don’t really need to hear what I had to say anyway. I can always blog about it later.

As an introvert, my facial expressions and body language are more subdued and often misinterpreted. A friend posted pictures of the homebirth of her second son. There’s a picture of her holding her baby for the first time, with her head thrown back, and smiling so large you can see all of her teeth. She’s clearly overjoyed. The picture of me holding my son for the first time shows me with furrowed brow, looking very serious at this little creature in my arms. I can assure you, the emotions I was feeling were closer to what my friend was expressing. I was absolutely elated. I still feel ecstatic when I think about my awesome homebirth. I just don’t show so many teeth when I think about it.

When I mentioned this difference to my friend, saying that I loved that picture of her and the emotion she expressed, but that I’m just not that emotive, she said, “Well, that’s something we’re going to have to change!”

I hadn’t really thought there was anything wrong with my reaction to my son’s birth until then, but I found myself agreeing with her that I should be more emotive. I’m choosing now to go back to feeling fine about my reaction as it was. This was me at my most authentic, my most exposed but also my most comfortable, confident, and powerful. I don’t want to change anything about that.

Are you an introvert? Are you ready to unite to help educate the extroverted world about our unique skills and offerings simply by not backing down from acting like ourselves?

Susan asks on her blog, “Are you with me?” I sure am. How about you?

7 Replies to “Introverts Unite!”

  1. Ok, so I’m only what, like 2 weeks behind commenting on this post? But maybe telling you that I’ve been thinking about it for those two weeks will make up for my lateness.

    I don’t know that I can be classified as either an extrovert or an introvert. I have a close circle of mom friends, and we ge together at least once a week, often more. That recharges me, leaves me feeling more confident and prepared to tackle the rest of my life. I also enjoy teaching, and interacting with my students and their parents. But large events suck the life out of me. Last week, I had a studio violin recital, a couple of church events, and then another violin festival, combined with all the regular day to day events. By the time last week was over, I wanted to hide in the corner of my room with a blanket and a book and never come out again.

    I am not good at small talk, and socializing with people I don’t know well gives me anxiety. Parties and other social events like that drain me, but I can spend hours sitting around chatting about everything and nothing at the same time with my little group of friends.

    And I think the reason internet socializing appeals to me so much is because I can control it. It’s not like the phone ringing while I’m elbow-deep in a poopy diaper, or someone knocking at the door while I’m nursing the baby. I can read a blog post or a facebook status and comment on it when I want to. (Even if it is two weeks late!) Or I don’t have to comment on it. But I make the choice as to how much interaction is right for me, and can pull away if I need to.

    I think I have now left you the longest blog comment on record.

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    1. The control piece is definitely something that I like about the internet stuff. I enjoy talking on the phone, but I almost prefer to make a date to talk so I won’t be caught at a bad time (or catch someone else at a bad time). Also, I can read something on the internet, let it percolate, and then take action two weeks later, if I decide to. (And I’m totally flattered that you’ve been thinking about this post for two weeks. Or six days.)

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  2. Awesome post Charity. I am such a lunatic extravert that I didn’t fully appreciate the full spectrum of introvert experience. I admit (with shame) that i have subconsciously viewed introvertedness as something to “cure” for a long log time.
    My best friend in elementary school was a capital I introvert. Before we became friends i woud see him reading a book by the fence at recess and think “he /needs/ me to go over there and invite him to play.” After pestering him mercilessly he relented and we became fast friends.
    I look forward to reading more about your discovery and acceptance of your introvertedness!

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    1. Thanks, Tucker. I think both extroverts and introverts can learn from one another and can help expand one another’s experiences. I’m guessing you’ll get a little introvert time during your longer travels, whether you like it or not (at least while the kids are asleep).

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  3. Yay! You don’t know how happy this post makes me. I have been having a crappy week — actually a crappy several weeks — and this made my day. This is exactly what I was hoping for when I started the blog. There are plenty of us out there — let’s stick together!

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    1. Well, finding your blog left me very happy, too. Thank you so much for leaving your comment. I think it makes a lot of sense to “normalize” introversion, and I think perhaps in the future I’ll try to present my introverted actions not self-effacingly as odd quirks but unapologetically as integral to my unique self.

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