Did I grab your attention with that title? I'm glad. Not because I actually believe that being introverted is Dysfunctional (notice how the word, "Introverted" in the title is in quotation marks)? But, I needed to grab the attention of those of you who THINK you are, indeed, introverted and may have been holding on to a label for yourself, which has been stopping you from your GREATEST and most AMAZING potential!
AGREEMENT CLAUSE: Please read this in its entirety, I'd hate for those of you who feel you are truly introverted (which in all respects may NOT be the actual definition circulating in our culture lately) to send me hate-letters about how I feel that introverts are inferior. This is truly not the case. In fact, I see us all as equals with equal opportunity to be the greatest versions of ourselves we can be.
What I know that is equally something to discuss is the feeling of those who can't STAND to be alone and consider themselves, "extroverts." For them, I have a future article for. ;)
For now, I hope you see this title as merely a curious draw for those who use the term "introvert" as the reason you may withdraw from loved ones, acquaintances, strangers, and even your community.
So, I thought we'd have a raw and honest conversation about this. Are you open? For the sake of this article, all I ask is that you are open. In the end you may disagree. But during the moments of reading this article, open your heart up to the possibilities before you. Because, my beautiful lovelies, what if I'm right?
SO, WHAT IS "BEING INTROVERTED" ANYWAY?!
Before we begin, we must take a look at how each of us define what it means to be "introverted".
Here is the New Oxford's Definition for ya:
To be introverted; "Shy, reticent, and typically self-centered person".
Wow! I hadn't heard of that last adjective before. I completely disagree with that one in any self proclaimed introvert I've ever come across (at least in what our culture defines as "self-centered". I will agree with it in one way though and I'll talk about that later.
Mostly, I've been hearing this definition lately: "an introvert is someone who gets energy from being alone and an extrovert is someone who gets energy from being around people." So, with this going around the internet, I wanted to clarify some things.
First of all, you need to know that I have been our culture's definition of an extreme "extrovert" - to the nth degree. I don't know many people like me who ALWAYS wants to be around someone and LOVES it!! Yet, lately that has tamed down to a lesser extreme and more of a balanced one, which I'm actually quite enjoying. I LOVE being around people - a LOT of the time - and get energy from it! I was raised on the East Coast of Canada where people popped in and out our house where we lived with my nanny and grandpa at any given notice. There was always a party to be had and I LOVED people-watching and joining in, every chance I got, to dance the night away.
But, just so you think this is not just a hardship on introverts, I happen to know that those who feel they are extremely extroverted and get energy from being around people, may have a touch of "narcissism" and feel that everyone just LOOOOOVES them and of COURSE they will gain energy from that!! Who wouldn't!!??
Yup, we're not out of the fire here, my dear extroverted friends. ;)
But, here's what happened for me and MOST self proclaimed extroverts I know. I married an extreme "introvert"! In fact, when we first met each other, neither of us even liked each other!!
True story! He was just SOOOO withdrawn and didn't seem to "care" (in my mind) about who was in the room. He was very quiet and spoke only when spoken to. In fact, nobody really knew the real him because he never shared it with anybody. The man I fell in love with and eventually got to know is one of the most amazing men I've ever met in my life!! But only through strange circumstance did I get to know this wise and beautiful soul I now know.
He didn't like me either, for the record. It wasn't until I told him off that he started taking a liking to me - funny, and true! But, I'll leave that story for another time. ;)
Once married, I truly saw how his life was in turmoil. When we would go out in any social setting, my husband would be the guy in the corner looking for ANY excuse not to engage. He would rather play with the kids or the dog or just sit there not speaking. Once home, he would absolutely CRASH!! He would go to bed with SUCH energy loss - a recent cultural definition of an introvert.
Now, well... NOW my husband is more "extroverted" than ever before!
So what happened? How does an "introvert" who doesn't talk to anyone in the room hardly EVER, or would rather stay home alone by themselves, become a person who would RATHER be with other people, can't stop talking on many occasions, and NEVER crash when they come home!?
ARE YOU "JUST" INTROVERTED?!
Here's why I believe he once would be referred to as an introvert and why you, also, may be considered an introvert when really, you may also be one of two things. 1. Something completely different than "Introverted" or 2. Something in addition to being introverted.
Remember you agreed to be open!
Okay, lets break this down further. So, lets say that being an introvert is that you gain energy when you're alone. Or, that you CAN go out in social settings but, that it simply drains you. My question for you is, well, why?
Here are three reasons I believe this COULD be, rather than you're just this definition of introvert:
1. The first reason may be that sometimes, it's the reason of the OTHER person or people.
Let me explain - Sometimes people are simply DRAINING! You know the type. They just want to talk about themselves the whole. darn. time! It's exHAUSting listening to someone talk about themselves, their kids, their victimization, their this, their that, and their OTHER thing. Even *I* would rather be alone and will find being with these types of people sucks the living energy out of me and I have to spend some time alone to get my energy back!! This is not you being "introverted".
Don't get me wrong. We ALL need to have someone to talk about ourselves with. Those aren't the situations I'm referring to. You know the one... those who time and time and time again ONLY talk about themselves. This, I like to call "situational introversion".
2. The second point I want to bring up is "FEAR". And this is a BIG one. It takes a LOT of energy to be around people when you have fear. This is the key point I want to make in this article. Fear can take shape in many different forms. But, here's the thing, I know people who have a hard time in social settings. I mean, lets face it. People out there can be scary... and judgemental!
Picture being in a crowd and perhaps, based on your upbringing (or media that wants us to think this way), you think things like, "Am I as pretty? Am I as funny? Did what I just say make sense? They're looking at me funny. Did I say that wrong? Why can't I be the life of the party like them? Why can't I be as confident as them? Why aren't I as successful as them? Why can't I... Why can't they...? Why, why, why??!?!
Well, of COURSE this is going to steal energy away from you and make you want to go be by yourself to get more energy. That's EXHAUSTING!!! This isn't you being "Introverted" either. This is you having fear.
Listen, I talk to a LOT of people about this. Most of this fear comes from our childhood. It's not your fault. But, there is something you can do about it. Mostly it takes being willing to talk to someone like a life coach about it. There is a belief you may have about yourself that you even PLACE on others about you. They may think you're fanTASTIC!! Yet, you're so scared of the fact that you have nothing to offer or that what you WANT to talk about is boring so that you just don't talk at all.
3. SPOKEN WORDS - You know when you have that child who seems "shy". For those who have children, this is definitely for you. I used to say this when my kids were small, especially when they didn't answer when a stranger said hi. "Oh, he/she is just shy", I'd explain with a smile on my face.
I realized that I was SPEAKING "shyness" into the very core of my child. The spoken word over our children is SO important and we need to be careful what we speak into them. See here to find out just how powerful words can be. If they are shy because they are afraid of other children and would much rather play by themselves, then yes we have to be gentle. We don't want to push them into scary situations. But might I suggest getting to the core of that potential fear they are experiencing and helping them through that fear in a more relaxed setting, rather than just pawning them off as "shy" - and as we grow up into adults, we term it "introverted"?
I've seen many adults who are so extremely "introverted" and I can't help but wonder if we, as parents, could have helped our children through this before it takes over their lives. How many of us grow up in society as "shy" simply because of fear?
ARE WE REALLY JUST MORE OF THE SAME?
So, do you wanna know what I believe we are? I believe we are all made to be in relationship AND alone in different parts of our day. In an equal state of balance. Where we find peace and space through things like meditation and prayer, allowing ourselves to have amazing energy, being filled up while we are alone. Then, in other parts of our day, to be in beautiful relationship with others without fear, with love, without judgement, and with beautiful harmony with others, giving and receiving and being beautifully connected. Loving ourSELVES enough that we can freely love those we are with without the heavy feeling as though maybe we are just not that good enough.
Quiet people have no problem letting others in the room have the spotlight or tell their stories. My husband doesn't "need" to talk like I like to. I am SO happy for him today. He feels SO much better in life because of the changes he's made for his mental health. For more on what you can do to help your journey with mental health, go here. While once he dealt with his self esteem and his fears, something changed in him and it has made me take a good solid look at this introvert/extrovert puzzle label we place on ourselves and others.
We all may bend toward one side of this balance due to our circumstances in life. My husband still has a quiet strength about him and while I talk as I think, he thinks before he talks. Being quiet is being quiet. Being talkative is being talkative. There are people who are packed FULL of funny stories to tell and others who prefer to wait for the opportunity, like an old Native Chief, passing down their wisdom to the tribe. There are quiet people who have something to share on stage and are amazing at it and the world needs what's inside them!! There are also louder, more dynamic people who have something to share on stage and the world needs what's inside them as well! But lets not "label" either them OR ourselves toward an unnecessary bias because you act this way or that way and may diminish our unique self from the world. The world needs YOU! TODAY!!
My hope for you is that IF you continue, after this article, to label yourself as introverted, that you remain a confident person who does not live in fear. That you truly look inside yourself so that the rest of your life, the world doesn't drain you. That you find a life coach to work with and dig deep to find the real you. Because the real you my friend... is a force in this world and the world needs your voice.
What do you think? Post a comment and let RawMama know!