When I was a young girl, I was painfully shy. I remember one day that the neighbor girl was outside & I so wanted to meet her. I asked my mom to pretend that I was locked out so that I would have a reason to be outside & an excuse to say hello.
I think it felt too vulnerable for me to just casually say hello of my own volition. I needed a reason to be so bold. What if I were rejected? What would she think of me if I wanted to meet her?
In Jr. High I think I was popular because I was pretty. People wanted to talk to me and I won lots of friends easily. I suppose that was the start of a more extroverted me, a person who thought she must be out-going, kind, talk to everyone. That’s what nice people do, right?
My grandfather was very extroverted. He welcomed all the new neighbors in his neighborhood and talked to everyone we met. He wanted for me to have a happy life, and in his point of view, that looked like talking a lot and having social conversations.
I took it on, wanting to please him, wanting to be liked, desiring to fit in. By high school, I was a cheerleader and Homecoming Royalty and in college, much to his encouragement, I rushed a sorority.
It has only been in recent years that I’ve begun to see what’s mine and what belongs to someone else.
In her amazing book, Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain describes many famous creators & inventors who were introverts. She talks about how this world increasingly touts that being social, being on teams, connecting & collaborating, is the way to go.
In reality, it seems that many of the greatest creatives find their inspiration & genius in solitude.
I can so relate, as I enjoy being alone. I love to write & make art & create projects in my home, but this only happens in spaces of down-time with no one around and no where to be.
In my relationship, this posed a challenge that I didn’t see clearly until now. He loves to be social, to connect, to make appearances at parties. I love to stay home, have down-time & empty space on the calendar.
When we’re out places, he loves to talk and connect with almost everyone. Sometimes I find myself sitting off on the side waiting, or leaving early, or not showing up at all.
I’ve tried for a long time to make myself more social. The truth is, I’m really not. I can be very extroverted in certain spaces, like this blog, for example.
In my writing & creative works and art & pictures, I love to be outgoing. In my dances, and times when I really feel it, I love to play, shine & connect. Yet, mostly, I am a very introverted being who loves to create & is always thinking & prefers solitude over gatherings.
Until we were together, I really thought I was a very extroverted person in many ways. In comparison to him, I realize I move differently in the world.
I use to think that this meant I wasn’t as good of a person. I had a lot of self-judgment! How come I didn’t want to go out so much, or I didn’t care to talk to that person, or make that connection?
I began to make myself wrong.
In the light of his extroversion, boldness, social-ness & desire for connection, my quiet & longing for solitude were exacerbated.
Now, I’m realizing that I am very much a creative artsy type and I love to create in solitude. Inspiration comes to me in walks in nature & space at home with my pen & paper. This is where I’m most comfortable.
I’ve seen it as a teacher too. Collaborative teams are all the rage in education. My classroom always consisted of pods of desks pushed together and each student had a job and they got to work together.
Now that I work at a private school with many gifted & talented students, I see that a majority of them prefer to create alone.
I can see why, and this brilliant book helps illustrate all the reasons why it can be so fruitful to work solo.
This isn’t to say there’s anything wrong with being extroverted. Extroverts are great! This book does illustrate how this world really places a high value on extroversion, and for people who aren’t naturally that way, it can be a challenge.
Let me say that I take everything with a grain of salt. I’m not one to buy into labels, and this book has amazing examples & research that shine a light on the way humans create & why our pendulum swing to the side of celebrating extroversion may be excluding a valuable way introverted people create many wondrous things.
Check out this TedTalk from Susan Cain if you’d like to know more about the power of introverts.
What do you think? Are you introverted or extroverted? I hope you’ll read this book, and if you have, or if you have any thoughts on what I’ve shared, please leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you.
P.S. Are you on my list? Hop on in and join the tribe! Simply download your free report by entering your best email up above. Thank you!