I’m in my mid-thirties and I still use the “going to the toilet” excuse as a five-minutes- emergency-escape (and for a few extra seconds of deep breaths) from what I call the imposed social gatherings and events.
For those of you questioning, yes! I am an introvert. And there is no way out of my introversion, one of the clearest traits of my personality. Even in a language I barely speak and understand my introversion surfaced. I started taking Dutch classes a few months ago. One of the home assignments was a personality test. And guess what? The first characteristic to show up was – you are correct – the introversion.
Why I decided to write about it? Because I realised a lot of people do not get what being an introvert means.
A few days ago, I was part of an awayday together with my colleagues. The whole department had to be present. We were around 120 persons in a room. With the “skillful guidance” of the facilitators we had to be mixed, stirred and obliged to participate in the “traditional” “let’s get to know each other” and “how to improve the way we are working together” exercises. I was at a certain moment on the verge of having an anxiety attack and reaching the limits of my patience when the whole group had to cheer the winner of the joint rock – paper – scissors game. This might be fun played in a duo or a trio, but not in a group of 120 people. I was obsessively questioning myself: is this supposed to be fun? and what the hell I’m doing here?! What good does this day bring into my life?!
I was describing the event and the way made me feel to one of my friends, telling her that I wonder why aren’t out there team buildings or awaydays designed for introverts like me.
Her reaction: “My dear you are not antisocial. You do not dislike people.”
This made me realise that there are people who still believe that being introvert means being anti-social.
Dear world, the introverts like people. They like socialising and they like spending time with other human souls. It is just the scale of the interaction that differs.
I love the time spent with my closest, dearest friends. The rule is quality over quantity.
I love the deep conversations, the silly chit-chats, the laughters that I share with my friends. And most of the times, all this happens in small groups where I can dedicate all my attention to what my discussion partner(s) has (have) to say.
Big groups drain the energy out of me. The environments with far too many stimuli make me feel like I’ve been run over by a truck and I am obliged to keep smiling and pretend all is good and that I’m having the time of my life. Of course my natural instinct will be to protect myself and to decline invitations for social events that have the potential to make me wish disappear in a black hole knowing that there I might find some peace.
Yes, I will prefer reading a book over this kind of scenario and I will be busy introverting 😊.
But this does not mean that I completely isolate myself from potential fun events. I love music and music is an important companion of my life. And yes, I go to concerts and festivals. And trust me, there are a lot of people and there’s a lot of noise coming with the music. But I accept all of it, because I love music. Is a small price that I have to pay for something that I love. I accept it and take it as it is.
Dear world, what I wanted to say is that introverts are selective because in time they had to learn to protect themselves. You wouldn’t continue putting your hand over a hot stove knowing that you will continuing get burned.
And trust me, the introverts are far more sensitive that you can imagine.
Being more selective with whom and where you are spending your time with doesn’t make you either arrogant, nor shy. And bear in mind is not easy to constant fight the peer pressure of doing, of going out, of being engaged in I-do-not-know-what-might-sound-like-fun-activity.
Dear world, next time when an introvert informs you that wants to stay home, please be more understandable and a bit more patient. Your friend is not betraying you, just needs a bit of time to recharge.
Dear world, although the introvert will need some extra time to come to you, never doubt his good feelings and intentions, and please do not forget that will do its best not to disappoint.
And as a P.S. – one of the best books I have read linked to the issue is “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain. I warmly recommend it to my introverts and extroverts friends.
Lots of love,
Sharing Simple Words