Monday, December 3, 2012

An Introvert In An Extroverted World

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”
- Gandhi -

I ran across an interesting video a few days ago, and it reminded me of what it felt like being an introvert during my early years, way before I discovered that I had this type of personality, and way before I even knew what it was.

In a previous post about introversion on this blog, I wrote: “In my younger years, being an introvert proved to be quite a challenge. And at times, emotionally trying. The world is dominated primarily by extroverts, and social norms favour them.”

That is so terribly true.


And because the world is dominated by extroverts, they tend to set the expectations society places on us, and the terms that define us. For example, extremely sociable and gregarious individuals, in their opinion, are more desirable, more influential and confident, livelier, warmer, more empathetic and certainly happier.

But introverts are labeled as self-centered, boring, lonely recluses, aloof, stuck-up and, undoubtedly, miserable --- words that suggest smallness of personality and emotional coldness.


What I’ve come to realize over the years is that extroverts have little or no understanding of introversion. Because they are energized by people, and wilt and fade when they’re alone for extended periods of time, they cannot fathom how someone could possibly live in such a ‘disconnected’ way. They quickly become bored by themselves, and will inevitably pick up the phone or drop in on a friend to connect with someone and boost their energy meter. In contrast, an introvert becomes exhausted after being socially ‘on’ for lengthy periods, and needs time alone with his or her thoughts to reenergize.

Try as I may, I’ve never been able to get the extroverts in my life to fully comprehend why I live life the way I do. And that I'm fine with that. I am not unfriendly. Or socially phobic. Or depressed. Or in need of therapy or medication. I am an introvert. An introspective individual. A quiet observer.  I think before I speak. I stroll through my life rather than race through it. I feel deeply. Ponder a lot of things. And need to be alone with my thoughts from time to time. It is as necessary for my well-being as sleeping and eating.


At this point in my life, I no longer care how I'm perceived. I am comfortable with it all. I fully embrace all these things about myself, and wholeheartedly value all the positive aspects about being an introvert. I understand and appreciate who I am. I recognize what I need to be happy. I realize I can only take the extroverts and their noisy world in small doses. And have come to accept that it’s okay to cross the street when I’m just not in the mood for small talk.

Anyhow, take a moment to watch the video below. You will truly understand its message, particularly if you are an introvert.





30 comments:

  1. Extroverts can be taught what introversion is but I don't think they ever really believe it's true, LOL!

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    1. Haha...yes, you are probably right, Debra. It's just an urban myth to them :)

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  2. I loved this post, Martha. Thank you for reassuring me that it's OK to love the slow, quiet life.

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    1. Thanks, Cathy; I'm glad you enjoyed. The quiet life, for those who crave it, is wonderful.

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  3. I am an introvert. I came across the book The Introvert Advantage and it taught me so much about myself. If you can get your hands on a copy you will not be disappointed. :-)

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    1. I will check my local library for it! Sounds great :)

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  4. There are some advantages to getting older - and no longer caring how you're perceived is one of them!! I am also at that same point in life and it's wonderful. I am neither in need of medication or therapy, lol!! Well, maybe some therapy might help, but that's a whole other story! :D

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    1. Yes, there certainly are advantages like that to getting older. No more peer pressure! And I love this point in my life, too. I feel so free to be who I am --- with no need to make excuses for it!

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  5. Great video...it's like they could see inside my head! :-) It's definitely true for me that receiving the message all my life that being reserved and quiet is not okay caused me to withdraw and become more and more shy. I think it's even harder when your entire family is outgoing and gregarious, as mine was. I'm so glad you've gotten to the point, Martha, that you are completely confident being who you are. That is truly wonderful. I'm always striving to get to that point myself, but I'm not there yet. Maybe it's even harder here in the U.S., since being outgoing is so greatly admired here. When my autistic son was young, he wanted to move to Japan because he read that quieter kids there were more admired and popular with other kids than loud ones were. I don't know if that's actually the case, but he tried hard to convince us to make the move. :-)

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    1. I wouldn't be surprised if the quieter kids in Japan are more popular. I am also under the impression that it's that type of society. Not sure if I am right about this, but I'd like to believe that it's true...a place where introverts rule...LOL...

      This video also spoke to me in that way, Beth. I kept nodding my head throughout it. It made so much sense. Introverts are finally getting the recognition they deserve instead of being outcasts. Thank goodness for that!

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  6. Wonderful post and video Martha! I am happy for you! I am finally at the point in my life that I too am proud to say I Am an Introvert! I still hear things like "you're so quiet, I didn't even notice you were here" kind of stuff. It no longer hurts my feelings, it just ticks me off that they are so clueless. I lived over half of my life pretending to be an extrovert and it was extremely painful! I would go home from work and be completely wiped out! I never realized that forcing myself to do something so unnatural was actually having a negative physical effect on me. Just think how many kids are out there suffering right now and thinking there is something wrong with them. Bless you Martha for bringing us into the light again!

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    1. That must have been very difficult and exhausting to pretend to be something you are not. I was usually surrounded by extroverts and faded into the background. Still do in many ways. But I don't mind that. I can sit back, relax and listen while the extroverts take center stage. I prefer it that way.

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  7. I think I must be a mixture of the two. Sometimes, I just don't want any social stimuli whatsoever. Other times I can be very lively and outgoing. The difference now is, I just make a decision about what suits my needs and follow my own instincts more freely.The world must be full of people who don't know who they really are. I say, be honest with yourself first and the rest will follow. Great little film, I really enjoyed it.

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    1. You may very well be, Sulky. And in that case you'd be an ambivert; someone who enjoys the best of both worlds. And now that we're 'mature', we can really relax and be ourselves. The perks of getting older...

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  8. Martha this post has certainly 'hit home' for somebody in this home! Do you think that some extroverts may just be individuals who have Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder? I am not joking here. Think about it....what is 'driving' these individuals to be on the go all the time?
    I love to socialize but only when I need interaction...I do not like being forced into social settings of any kind. I also love the quiet times and can cope quite happily by myself.
    Great thought provoking post Martha. And the photos of those 'lone' leaves help tell the story.

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    1. You could be right, Jim! I never thought of it that way, but anything is possible. You sound like you're in the middle of both of these traits, which is a nice place to be. I like socializing, but not all the time. And I prefer small gatherings, so I can have meaningful conversations with people. I'm terrible at small talk!

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  9. Just listened to the video...thanks goodness at the end the narrator said that people are made of different amounts of introversion /extroversion...because I was thinking I don't feel completely one or the other...I do however realize that I am more introverted as I look back...look way back into my childhood and feeling completely OK playing by myself. Thanks for this Martha...really appreciate it.

    Ron

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    1. Glad you enjoyed, Ron! I guess there are different levels of introverts just like there are different levels of extroverts. What's important is to live your life in a way that is comfortable for you. I believe I'm finally at that point in my life.

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  10. Thank You, you say it in such a lovely way and help me see that I am fine too.

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  11. Being an introert is like being a woman in a man's world - discounted because of who you are really spoke volumes I thought. Wonderful informative videio Martha. And i must say i love the colour you are using in your photos. Beautiful!

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    1. Thanks, Francie. And I guess women have even more challenges to face. It's still a man's world despite all the progress we've made. We still have a lot of work to do!

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  12. Jim (Ocean Breezes) shared a link to your blog. I enjoyed your post and the video. I am absolutely an introvert! Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

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    1. Welcome, fellow introvert! Nice to have you here. I will check out your blog!

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  13. I always found that the quiet kids got picked on and bullied. I have always hated bullies and would try my very best to defend them. Do you know this quote..."No need to speak unless you can improve the silence.". I don't know who said it but I like it!

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    1. I love that quote! I'll have to keep it in mind to use at some point. Good for you for standing up for other kids, Kay. That is the right thing to do.

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