Friday, August 09, 2013

Knowledge Is Power

I've known for a while now that I am an introvert.  For a long time, I didn't really know what that mean, though.  I fell into that same, common misconception that introvert = shy and withdrawn, while extrovert = outgoing and popular. 

It wasn't until I started hanging out on some introvert pages on Facebook that I began to understand what it really means to be an introvert. 

A couple of days ago, someone posted a question on the Introvert Spring page:

Good morning all,
I have a question for you: how has knowing you are an introvert changed your outlook on life?

The short answer is, it has set me free.

OK, perhaps we need to look at a little bit longer of an answer.

My whole life, I'd always thought that there was something wrong with me.  I'd been described as the sulky, sullen, moody one.  I'd heard myself called things like shy, withdrawn, pouty, and antisocial.  I thought my social skills were severely lacking, and didn't even want to talk about my conversational skills. 

It wasn't that long ago that I was expressing frustration here on my blog that I didn't know how to have a conversation, because I didn't know what to talk about. It's not shyness.  I wasn't afraid to talk to people--though I will admit that societal pressure to be a chatterbox did make me nervous in most social situations.  I just didn't know what to say.

Now, I know that there isn't anything wrong with me.  That's just how introverts are.  We don't like to waste words, so we abhor chit chat and small talk, and thus the activities --parties and such-- that revolve around such things.  So, now I no longer worry and fret that I can't make small talk.  I just happily stay quiet until I feel that I have something worth saying.

Treebeard said, "It takes a long time to say anything in Old Entish, so we don't say anything unless it's worth taking a long time to say."  Or to paraphrase for my situation:  it takes a lot of energy for an introvert to speak, so we don't say anything unless it's worth taking a lot of energy to say.

I've also discovered that I'm not withdrawn or antisocial.   We introverts, we need our alone time, because being around people drains us of our energy.  We don't like people in our houses, especially for long periods of time, because we have to be up all the time.  That is extremely exhausting for us.   That's exactly how I feel.  It's not that I don't like people in my house so much is that I feel I can't relax and let down when someone else is there.  I feel like I have to be entertaining all the time.  That just wears me out. 

When we have to be around people a lot-- even people we really like-- eventually our energy will run out and we will go emotionally limp --so to speak.  Now I know that this is not sulkiness or a mood swing.  I just ran out of energy, and it's OK.  I can stand up and say that I need some time to myself to recharge, because you know I'm an introvert, and that's how we are. 

Even my preference for writing to people instead of confronting them face to face-- that's introversion.  It gives me time to think about my words, to choose them carefully, and to change something if it doesn't come out right the first time.  We introverts aren't so good at off-the-cuff speaking. 

All of these things that I've known about myself, but had always considered character flaws, or personality faults, now I know that they're OK.  They're not what's wrong with me.  They are what's right with me.

And the best part about discovering what it means to be an introvert is knowing that yes, I really was born this way.  It's not a choice.  It's the way my brain is wired.  I can finally look all those people who are trying to help me "break out of my shell" and say, "Stop trying to fix me, because I'm not broken."  I'm OK the way I am.

I'm more than OK, I'm good the way I am.  I'm an introvert and I'm proud of it.

That's why I can sit here and say that knowing that I'm an introvert has set me free.

I'm finally free to be who God made me to be, and in a strange twist of irony, embracing my introversion has made me more confident and outgoing than I've ever been before.  

I have finally become the flower I was always meant to be.

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