The topic of introversion has been more popular lately, probably because of Susan Cain’s book, Quiet. I am an introvert and I have also written about this topic a few times in this blog.
While it’s good to know that people are becoming more aware of the different natures of our temperament, I feel afraid that we may be lumping definitions together in rigid categories.
Things are never black or white, and the purpose of this post is to clarify some notions about introversion based on my individual experiences and opinions as an introvert.
Not all introverts want to be understood in relation to their introversion.
I have known that I was an introvert even before I knew of such a term and even before it became commonplace. Even as a kid, I didn’t feel any kind of longing to be understood nor appreciated for being myself. Yes, my brothers felt curious about my solitary playtimes. They wanted to know what’s up with me so they’d take a peek into the window of my bedroom. Sometimes my classmates in gradeschool would make fun of me because they thought I was nerdy since I preferred to read books than talk with them. Even my parents and some relatives would find me weird because I rarely acted like a kid. I was mostly silent, reading, asking strange questions or creating things.
While it’s true that my introversion didn’t interfere with me having genuine and fun relationships with my family and friends and with achieving success in my goals, it has brought my life some pain as well like when people thought I was strange and funny.
But, so what? Don’t we all feel strange sometimes? At some point of our lives other people would make fun of us. We would do something different or totally absurd. It doesn’t even matter what it is.
I never really longed to be understood for being an introvert. In fact, I never cared about other people’s level of comfort when interacting with me. It’s not my problem if they find me strange. I never forced anyone to like my presence nor to be friends with me.
What I have always wanted was to be left alone. I am, in fact, most annoyed neither by those who make fun of me nor those who stay away from me but those who keep on poking me with the intention (probably genuine) of understanding me.
Anybody who does that to an introvert is obviously heading the wrong way. So for the record, not all introverts want to be understood. I, for example, am comfortable alienating others.
Sometimes the reason why an introvert dismisses you has nothing to do with introversion at all. Sometimes they just don’t like you.
I think, us introverts, are better at shutting people off, or cutting ties because we are aware that some relationships are just more pain than they’re worth and we can be blunt towards ourselves about it. We are more clear of what we need.
I actually find it fascinating that some people just don’t get it when I reject them. I think they find it unbelievable that a person can just cut them off without any evidence of guilt or confusion.
Yes, of course we can dislike other people, too. Yes, sometimes, we can be very harsh, too. Yes, sometimes, we’re just better at ending things.
Introverts, don’t necessarily long for intimate talks either.
It’s a popular belief that introverts, generally, hate small talks. This might be true but it doesn’t mean that we prefer personal conversations instead. Since introverts, like me, are easily drained by other people’s energy, getting caught up in other people’s drama is the last thing on our bucket list.
Our temperament has nothing to do with our communication skills. I am in fact effortlessly good at small talks.
In fact, contrary to popular belief, I sometimes prefer it because of its shallowness. I can hide and rest beneath it.
Why would I want to have personal talks just with anybody I meet everyday? I would want to NOT establish a deeper connection with somebody I am not interested with. I would prefer that the people I don’t intend to keep in my life don’t know who I really am and I prefer not to know who they really are as well. I am also aware that small talks, can in fact, be very enjoyable, especially if it’s with a nice stranger. It can humanize our daily modern routines. It’s a good respite from our inner musings as well.