If you are an introvert, you know all too well the labels given to you by the “others.” You’ve been called “stuck-up,” “snobbish,” “standoffish,” “intimidating,” and maybe even “narcissistic.” And if you’re an introvert, you’ve also obsessed and agonized over what these words mean, who said them, the tone that conveyed the message, the context in which they were said, what that person was wearing when they said them, if the person is a back, belly, or side sleeper, could you take them in Street Fighter, …
But you also know that none of these labels are true. The truth is that you just don’t need people like other people need people.
At some point in your life, your parents made you play a musical instrument for houseguests. No doubt you’d have rather poured kerosene over that ten grand baby grand and let the flames lick up all the glory than have to touch an ivory for an audience.
You’ve also probably enjoyed hanging out with your big brother when he suddenly pulled over at a grocery store to pick up juice before going home, and he forced you to get out of the car to run in to get it. Water works ensued as the nightmare of greeting the cashier had you wishing he would just run you over with his Ford Bronco…in both drive and reverse.
You know what it’s like to receive a phone call and instantly start weighing the pros and cons of taking the call. If you pick up, you can just rip off the band-aide. If you wait, you’ll have the burden of calling back, but you get the bonus of a message tipping you off about the content of the conversation. Then you can practice all possible scenarios before the dial-back.
Or how many times have you been asked by your significant other to call to make a doctor’s appointment or even order a pizza, and you’d rather eat the telephone, power cord, and charger than have to talk to a complete stranger you will most likely never see ever, ever again.
Yep. Introverts are oftentimes seen as “less” than their party-animal counterparts who just love, love, LOVE people. We’ve been told by others that we need to come out of our shells, that practicing talking to people will make it easier in the future.
What if we like our shells? Do extroverts know how fabulously decorated and awesome it is in there? That maybe we don’t need to come out? What if we don’t want to purchase a copy of Holding Conversations for Dummies?
All of our lives we’ve heard from others that we need to work on our “weaknesses” so we can turn them into strengths. I’m sorry, but do you know anyone who is made up of all strengths?
When our kids come home and show us their report cards, what do most parents tend to focus on? Any substandard grades- the Cs and Ds. If they have the capability to be an A or B student in those classes, then that is a different story. But, if your kid just isn’t cut out for math, he’s not cut out for math! That’s not his strength. Likewise, our temperament is pre-determined. And while we can and should bring areas of deficit up to some level of “functioning,” let’s not fixate on what’s “broken,” but rather harness and improve our strengths.
Phew! What a relief. We are free from the pressure of being awesome at all things!
Most introverts are task-oriented, which means we pay attention to details, we tend to be creative, and we process information at a slower rate, which not only makes us excellent listeners, but also allows us to be less reactionary to terrible news.
We might not like to party like it’s 1999, but we know how to strictly follow a recipe, sew a dress from scratch, write a novel, paint a masterpiece, or play a concerto in A minor. None of those things require anyone else to be involved, AND THAT’S OKAY.
So the next time an extrovert is making you feel like a Debbie Downer because you have a pre-written list of 101 reasons why you can’t go bowling, just remember the words from the Tom Petty song, “You don’t know how it feels to be me,” then proceed to crawl back into your shell, whip up a chocolate soufflé, and write a dear diary entry on how awesome it is to be an introvert.