Shhhh….I’m An Introvert

introvertOkay, I will be brave enough to admit it.   I am an introvert.

It doesn’t mean I am anti-social or weird (depending on who you ask).  I’m just reserved when it comes to opening up to people.

For the most part, I have accepted who I am and my life as an introvert.

Introvert comes from Latin intro-, “inward,” and vertere, “turning.” It describes a person who tends to turn inward mentally. Introverts sometimes avoid large groups of people, feeling more energized by time alone.

I don’t have a degree in psychology or anything official on paper but it seems to me that being an introvert isn’t something I was born with but a behavior I grew into from a child.  At least it seems that way for me.  I can’t speak for everyone. (And please don’t make me speak in front of a crowd.)

I am quiet until you get to know me and I let you in.  Even then I don’t often say much and I’m not one that will carry the conversation in a group.  Honestly I usually don’t have anything important to say that interests the group.  When I do, I will give my input.  I am clearly not the smartest person in any room and I’m okay with that.

I am quiet. I don’t often say much and I’m not one that will carry the group conversation.

People often mistake my quiet and feel uncomfortable with it.  I can assure you that it isn’t my intention to make others feel uncomfortable.  If I have something to say I will say it.  If I attempt to say something many times and it isn’t acknowledged I won’t force the issue.

How did I become an introvert?  I think it has a lot to do with how I grew up in a fish bowl as a preacher’s kid.  My life was an open book to others so I learned at an early age to be very guarded and developed a very fragile self-esteem to avert being made fun of by others.  I learned how to retreat into the background and avoid the attention.

I learned to observe and listen. I understand a lot more than people think. Introverts are often thought of as being timid and shy but we are information gatherers. We learn the personalities around us and who we can and can’t trust. We won’t let people in until we feel secure about them. We have our own internal TSA screening. We let very few people inside of our world.

We are often eccentric.  We will do things like choose to take the next elevator alone rather than board with a group of people.  That’s just how we roll.

Some people have been described as never meeting a stranger.  To an introvert, everyone is a stranger except for those who have been mentally vetted into your life.  I can’t say that I enjoy “alone time” but I function okay when I am forced to be alone.  Except for my wife, I can’t say that I have ever had a best friend.  It hasn’t been from the lack of trying.  I have made the effort but it always turns out that I have to be the one that makes all the effort to be the “buddy”.  It has never been a two-way street.  I have learned to be okay with that.

I have had friends but those close friends have been difficult to have.  Some reasons are because I am introvert but mostly I felt the other side didn’t put forth the effort in the friendship.  I was urged once to befriend someone and after attempting to do so three times I gave it up.  It was when he needed another person for a golf game that I was thought of.  I don’t roll like that.  I’m not going to be the last person picked.

Another contributing factor to me being an introvert was that I was an only child.  As an only child you just learn to do things by yourself.  You self-teach yourself things and you function alone.  Being alone never meant being depressed or something to feel sorry about.  Most people don’t understand introverts.  Here are some common myths:

#1 –  All Introverts Are Shy

Although most introverts seem shy when you first meet them, when they become more familiar with you they will be trust you more and open up more.  I know I do it.  I appear to be shy and quiet when I meet someone new but the longer I am around someone you will never believe I was shy.

#2 – Introverts don’t like being around people

This is true in part.  I don’t like being in crowds or groups of people I don’t know.  I have no problems with people I know.

#3 – Introverts don’t make good leaders or public speakers

This is totally not true.  I  have been a leader, instructor and public speaker.  As long as I know my subject, you would never guess I was an introvert.

#4 – Introverts are lonely and depressed

Being alone isn’t the same as being lonely.  Someone once asked me how I could go to lunch alone or did it bother me.  Actually it doesn’t.  I will never seek out someone to have lunch with and if I go somewhere and see a co-worker I will not join them.

#5 – Introverts avoid confrontations

Yeah, this is definitely NOT true.  When it comes time to confront someone or something I will step up and do it.  That doesn’t mean I like it but sometimes you just have to get it done.

According to some estimates, as much as 40 percent or more of the population identifies themselves as introverted. Based on those figures alone, we are certainly not weird, odd or even eccentric.  So we are not alone in this.  Introverts are sometimes unfairly labeled as strange. Perhaps this is because introverts tend to follow their own interests rather than paying much attention to what is popular.

For an introvert, constantly being told that “you’re quiet” is a lot like telling an extrovert that they “never shut up.”  It’s unnecessarily rude and implies that there is something wrong with the individual. Both personality types need to make an effort to understand those who differ from them. Introverts have their own needs and quirks, just as extroverts do.

Most importantly, not all introverts are the same. You can’t put all introverts in the same pile.  It is important to get to know the individual and learn us.  If we let you in, you will see the difference.


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