Here’s a trending yet totally personal spiel: I consider myself to be reserved, introverted. My preferred place will always be somewhere quiet with tea lights or fairy lights, books or Netflix, coffee or tea. My preferred method of interacting with others will always be one or a few at a time –and a few, takes effort. These aren’t rules I live by, but if they were I’d be more than competent at following them.
This is the itch I’d like to scratch: the term ‘introvert’ is sort of notorious for being a negative personality type. Persons who are introverted are told they need to ‘talk more’, ‘smile more’, ‘hang-out with more people’, and basically be the opposite of themselves for the sake of fitting into an extrovert’s world. Be ‘More’.
But, here’s an interesting perspective: Why is it good to be extroverted and socially savvy, but bad to be more reserved and introspective? Why do we need to ‘talk more’ or ‘smile more’ or be comfortable in the limelight? Why are we pressured to be more outgoing? Why are we pressured to be something we’re not? Generally, there’s a pressure on introverts to be more extroverted, but there’s rarely pressure on extroverts to be more introverted. Why is it that introverts have to change and conform to the extroverted way but extroverts don’t need to conform to the introverted way?
I know this sounds like I’m trying to be ‘out-there’. I’m not. I believe you should live your life according to principle, not according to every wave that passes.
There has to be a balance. It would be wrong to sit in your room all day, every day, and make no effort to connect with the community around you. But, what if there are different ways of doing that? My thinking is there’s nothing wrong with being introverted or ‘socially awkward’ as long as you still find ways to connect and build relationships with others at your own pace. For example, if my friend is hosting a big birthday party –going to a party would not necessarily be my comfort zone– but absolutely, I attend. However, my way of enjoying the party may be different from how an extrovert will enjoy it. I’m happy sitting and chatting with a few people, while the extrovert is break-dancing in the centre of the room!
People have different learning styles (google VARK) and guess what, people also have different social ‘styles’. The thing that makes people feel socially awkward in the first place is the pressure to say the right things, be humorous, be outgoing, and be heard. But there are different ways to create conversation and connection with others. There are different ways to be heard. The quiet boy to the back of the class may not be much of a talker, but he knows how to express himself amazingly through creating a wonderful work of art, or a story, or song, or comic strip.
Maybe we need to take the pressure off ourselves and others and give people a chance to just be themselves. Give people the chance to figure out how they best connect with others and give them the space to do that and figure it out.
Growing up, I never felt like I fit in. I never felt normal. But things have changed because I’ve realised, there’s no ‘normal’ way to interact with others, to build connections. Everyone has a different style. There are different ways to participate, to build relationship, to give feedback, to make friends. There’s nothing wrong with being different, so long as your life continues to be built on principle.
So, as an introvert, here are 10 things I’ve noticed about myself:
- I do like being around other people, I like hanging out with people, but I don’t like the limelight.
- I’m terrible at thinking on the spot. I need time to think (like a few days).
- I’m rubbish at telling funny stories- at least verbally.
- I’m great at connecting with others on a deeper level.
- I’m great at listening.
- I love helping people and giving advice where I can.
- I love meeting up for a coffee and a chat.
- I use writing as a mode of self-expression.
- I like hanging out with extroverted people even though I myself am not.
- I like who I am.
This was for the introverts, like myself, who have always wanted to be a bit more understood.
My last bit of advice: Being awkward doesn’t have to be awkward as long as everyone knows you’re awkward and will always do and say awkward things. Be proud fellow awkward people!