My entire life, I've been called shy. From the very beginning of my life when I'd hide behind my mom's skirt when someone new walked up to us, my parents called me shy. When I had a roomful of acquaintances and only one friend, I reasoned that it was because I was shy. I never liked being shy, though; I always felt ashamed of that particular label. Shy people were rude and self-centered, and I honestly didn't feel rude and self-centered! I just didn't want to talk to strangers. Or sometimes, I just didn't want to talk, period.
In the past couple of years, I've seen more and more articles and comments about the difference between introverts and extroverts. I had never heard the terms before high school, and in high school, being an introvert was just as bad--if not worse!--than being shy. Being an extrovert, however, was a wonderful thing to be, because that meant you were friendly and not afraid to stand up for yourself--albeit loudly. Being an introvert meant that you were not only rude and self-centered (a.k.a. shy), but you were too proud to admit it and wanted to cover up those sins. If you've spent two minutes with me, you know I am definitely NOT an extrovert, but no way did I want to label myself as rude, self-centered, AND proud!
Now, however, I wonder...
- I wonder why I let people who didn't have the good sense to know when to shut up define me.
- I wonder why those same people felt they needed to define anyone not like themselves as "bad".
- I wonder how I let myself get so caught up in trying to figure out a way to not be myself that I didn't realize that my loud friends didn't really want to be themselves, either.
- I wonder what gave us all the idea that being just how God made us was a bad thing!
Recently, I've realized that being an introvert can be a good thing--IS a good thing! It is exactly how God made me, and once I realized that, I embraced who I am. I learned that there are aspects of being an introvert that give me an advantage over extroverts. I learned that being who God made me to be is SO much better than trying to be something that, in essence, was exactly opposite of who I was.
Being an introvert doesn't mean I am rude, self-centered, and proud. (I may be those things, but not directly because I'm an introvert. That would a whole different post!)
Being an introvert does mean that:
- A wave hello or goodbye is quite sufficient, and sometimes I may forget that not everyone is satisfied without a verbal greeting.
- If it's just you and me, and I go an entire five minutes without saying one word, it's because silence is a wonderful sound to me, not because I'm mad at you.
- If I'm in a crowd and I'm being a "wallflower", I don't need you to feel like you have to come over and talk--I actually enjoy just watching. But you can always come over and just watch with me.
- If I do open up and tell you something about myself, it's because I thought it was important for you to know. Acting like you don't care isn't the appropriate response.
- I never talk just for the sake of filling up dead space, so if I am talking a lot, it means you've found what I'm passionate about. Listen up; you might learn something.
- My version of "showing myself friendly" may be different than yours, but that's okay--your way is just as hard for me to reciprocate as mine is for you. Let's both build the bridge of friendship toward each other, you with your bricks and me with my stone.
- I don't let just anyone's friendship bridge make it all the way to me, but if I count you in my circle of friends--as a real friend, not this all-encompassing thing of "friends" on facebook--know that I will have your back until the end of time, and probably longer than that, too.
There are plenty of other things that also describe me (and introverts in general). If you are interested, check out these links: Making Friends with Introverts, Why Introverts Dislike Small Talk (I am so bad at small talk, and before I read that article, I really couldn't even explain what small talk was, other than "short conversations about stuff that doesn't matter"), and Definition of an Introvert (she lists more than I have, but not in as fun of ways as I did).