I am an introvert.
There. I said it. An introvert.
I am an innie, not an outie. (I also have an innie in case you were wondering. But that is by-the-by ;-))
(My husband is an ENFP which leads to some interesting marital discussions…)
Most people would be surprised to know I am introverted.
I can be quite lively at gatherings. I am happy to address an audience of hundreds. Even without preparation.
And I can talk.
Man, can I talk. Hind legs and donkeys come to mind.
However what most people don’t realize is that prior to my apparently extrovert episodes, I will have prepared by being quiet and alone for hours.
If I have to attend an event and have not had the opportunity to charge my batteries by being alone with as little stimulation as possible prior to going, I will have to drag myself there, hug the edges of the room and avoid talking to anyone.
I couldn’t be less extroverted under those circumstances and come across as being in a bad mood or tense.
Introverts are like that – people and stimulation exhaust us.
And so the bigger the group, the quieter I become. Four is about the maximum number of people I can handle before I shut down altogether.
Introverts typically hate parties or anywhere we have to make ‘small-talk.’
Large, noisy groups don’t lend themselves to the in-depth discussions about topics of great interest that introverts like to have.
And the more serious the subject matter the better.
Which is why we often don’t get second dates.
Too many times I was told I’m ‘too serious.’
Well, too bad.
Besides, I don’t go on too many second dates these days.
(My husband has a few stories to tell about our second date.)
What all this means is that while we introverts need a lot of quiet time and may appear gruff and reserved often now and again, it doesn’t mean we don’t like people, are anti-social or avoid public speaking and performances.
We just have to pace ourselves.
And in a world that is run along extroverted lines (75% of the population is extroverted,) we have to watch out.
Being an introvert is why chaperoning a two-hour field trip will leave me exhausted for the rest of the day and part of the next. (And I mean exhausted as in needing to lie down in a darkened room, unable to speak.)
It’s why I have to manage my day so that I have energy for the parenting duties that occur towards the latter part.
And it’s why if you see me at a party or other schmoozing event, I will often be cleaning, organizing food or selling tickets.
So if you see anyone being a wallflower one moment and a great orator the next. Or chatty and friendly one day but avoiding eye contact on another occasion. Or your best friend turns down an invitation to your 40th birthday party…
Don’t be offended.
Ask yourself if they could be introverted and just in need of downtime. Suggest a one-on-one coffee or give them a break.
And if you are an introvert, can you relate to what I was told one performance review many years ago?
‘Alison, it’s really important to say something basic like ‘Good morning’ to your colleagues on arrival in the office. It’s, like, fundamental.’
What are you – an innie or an outie? Is there anyone in your life who is a misunderstood introvert? If you are an introvert, how do you cope in this extroverted world? Let me know in the comments!
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