I would imagine you have seen the picture to the left before. If not, please enjoy before realizing that a lot of people out there chuckle for only a second before thinking to themselves “Yeah, exactly”.
Before we get any further in here, let me say I have no medical experience in the realm of psychology and human behavior AND I am in no way speaking for all introverts (or extroverts, for that matter). Not all the “definitions” are proper in any sense, but only what I think of when putting my own thoughts and feelings out there. If you have read any of my stuff before, you know that I write in a conversational tone and that can result in some rambling on at times. I am not quite as fluid when I speak as when I write, however, so this is our venue, dear reader.
The term “introvert” has grown in popularity to become the official buzzword of a consistently quiet person. Honestly, I believe the term has been around for quite some time, but people have only begun tossing it around over coffee breaks and dropping it into conversations over the last several years. Although being quiet by itself does not necessarily scream “INTROVERT!!!” (you could have lost your voice screaming at a rock concert or sporting event), the term comes pretty close as a descriptor when you take the person’s behavior as a whole into consideration. If you are comfortable with your own company and prefer to keep to yourself more often than not, the root “intro” vs “extro” makes perfect sense. An “extrovert’ would obviously be someone who consistently craves outside action and attention and is uncomfortable with silence, always needing to fill an audible void with something. Although people can swing back and forth between the two depending on the situation and personalities involved, they tend to settle into one more than the other.
In my case, I have not always embraced my introversion. To people who have known me for years, they most likely remember a boisterous, loud mouth. The daughter of a church friend said several months back, “I don’t think I can people today”, and although we chuckled about needing to put it on a t-shirt, I realize that it is the best way to verbalize how plenty of folks feel. I have always needed some quiet “recharge” time away from people, even in high school, but it was not until the last several years that I realized that it is actually ok and there are other people out there who follow the same line of thinking. I have become more and more an introvert by choice over the last decade or so (with the occasional trip to the open mic stage). An avid reader as a child, I have also gone back to my literary roots and shamelessly embrace my bookworm attributes, meeting some really cool people online who embrace their own bookishness (What’s up Book Haven peeps!).
Those people I respect the most choose their words wisely. This means two things; they don’t talk much and when they do, it’s usually something worth listening to. We are in this weird stage in human history where we are connected constantly on a digital basis but completely disconnected in a face to face relational one. That certain people choose their words wisely and sparingly in a world where technology has made it possible for everyone to climb on their soapbox and browbeat their thoughts and opinions on to anyone and everyone is exactly why I gravitate towards them. It is truly one of the greatest paradoxes; those who speak the least are usually the people who have the most important things to say.
Trying to befriend someone who rarely speaks is a unique experience, to be certain, and you are never entirely sure if they care as much for you as you do them. I would like to think that there is a certain unspoken “yeah, I get you” vibe between introverts at times. I could definitely be wrong, and their silence could actually be more of a “get as far away from me as you possibly can” vibe, but I would like to be optimistic. Along that same note, there are few things worse to me than to feel as if I am annoying someone by my presence and/or conversation. If I get that feeling I usually back off and wait until THEY approach ME further down the line.
There are some extroverted people in my life who slow down occasionally and make sure everyone else is doing alright, but there are also several who just steamroll through life without taking into consideration how their behavior makes everyone else feel. I can not abide drama, and will back away as quickly as I can (but attempt to be graceful). I have had, and continue to have, interactions with people who are so self centered and egotistical that I see nowhere in their life that I could fit in. When I realize that quality in a person, I do what I can to make myself scarce.
In another case of irony, my current line of work does not lend itself to introverts. Full of alpha males and go-getters, it is not quite the place for a quiet book nerd. Granted, there are times (like when you are face to face with a group of people in the dark recesses of a canyon with no backup) that even the most introverted of us will become loud and boisterous, but that’s in an attempt to stay alive and let people know that they had better think twice before messing with you. My personal “cruise control”, if you will, however, is to sit back and observe.
Please do not misconstrue what I am getting at though, dear reader. Looking over what I have written so far, I have been a bit disparaging toward extroverts. The world NEEDS extroverts, it really does. People who are willing to be the face of a problem and solution are just as important as the people behind the scenes who have no interest in recognition and being in the hot seat.
In my life, I have several introverted friends and value their input more than I can actually convey here in a blog post. I have been blessed to be married to an incredible woman since 2003. She has always been an introverted person and because of that has had a difficult time making herself heard over louder and more obnoxious people. She is fiercely loyal, however, to those she cares about (both friends AND family) and definitely one of the best friends you could ever ask for. The biggest part that her introversion plays in our social lives involves how many people we can entertain at one time. She enjoys the company of only one set of people to hang out with (as do I). A low odd number (3, for instance) always results in someone being excluded and that usually ends up being her. In our own case, 4 couples and more are perfect. The math adds up, honestly. No one is stuck off by themselves, even in a conversational lull.
Ok then, it is time to wrap this up. As I mentioned at the beginning, I am in no way attempting to speak for all introverts (or extroverts). Personalities are what make each of us endearing to one another, even if they clash at times. I suppose my bottom line, the gist of all this, the meat-and-potatoes, is that just because someone does not find the need to fill every moment with noise and conversation does not give them any less of a personality. If you slow down and pay attention, you may find that their personality and input could be exactly what you need in your life.