Saturday, April 21, 2012

On being an Introvert

On being an introvert...

Being an introvert in an extroverted world has its challenges. Even so, I would not even dream of being any other way.

So what is an introvert?

Introverts gain energy from their internal world and are drained by too much external stimuli. Conversely, extroverts gain energy from social interactions and prefer not to be alone for extended periods of time.

Many cultures value extroversion more than introversion. Even the task of finding pictures of people alone and happy was a challenge. The belief is that if I don't speak my every thought or feeling that something is wrong with me. If I don't constantly interact with the person next to me then I am rude. I believe in privacy, even if it is at least the privacy of my own internal dialogue.

Only one in four people in the US are introverts; so there have been numerous opportunities for misunderstandings and stereotypes to emerge.

Stereotypes of introverts:

1. Shy

I am not shy! Shy people would actually like to spend more time with others in social settings, however, they just don't know how. I actually prefer to be alone or with a limited number of people.

2. Stuck up

I am not stuck up. It's just that sometimes what I'm thinking is way more interesting than what you are saying. And just because your words are louder, doesn't make them more important than my thoughts or feelings.

3. Depressed/Antisocial

I am not depressed or mentally ill. Sure, spending lots of time alone may sound like torture to some, but it sounds like heaven to an introvert. We need time alone just as much as we need air to breathe. I need this time to recharge in order to function properly in an extroverted world.

4. Friendless/Hates people

Believe it or not, I have friends. Yes, more than one. I was never into having clich├ęs or group friends. I prefer to know my friends intimately and independent of one another. I prefer to have deep, meaningful experiences with people I know versus numerous shallow experiences with strangers.

Our culture here in America puts pressure on introverts to become more extroverted. Come say hello to so and so, chit chat about meaningless matters just for the sake of being polite. Why not ask extroverts to respect the preferences of introverts?

Tips for extroverts conversing with an introvert:
·         Don't ramble.
·         Get to the point.
·         Talk about something meaningful.
·         Pause and wait for a thoughtful response.

3 things I have always wanted to say to an extrovert: