Years ago, while reading a parenting book, I stumbled upon the personality characteristics of introvert and extrovert. I knew about these traits but I had always called them ‘shy’ and ’not shy’. Who knew that there was more to it than that?
I haven’t really given it too much more thought – I was content to know that my shyness was not a symptom of some antisocial behaviour chacteristic nor did it mean that I was a coward or a snob or a people hater. I like people just fine – I just happen to prefer them in smaller doses than does the average extrovert.
Now it’s been probably 10-15 years at least since I happened across this little peace. Yes, I spelled that correctly.
Learning that I am an introvert is peace. It has helped me to know that having time alone will make me feel better when I feel out of sync. It has helped me explain to the man that asking me 401 more times “what’s wrong” will do nothing but aggravate me if I am not ready to talk about it (he is an extrovert). It has helped me to accept that feeling uncomfortable speaking in front of a crowd is normal for me and it has helped me feel fine about using the phrase “give me a minute to think about it”. In general, since these are a mere ‘off the top of my head’ few things that make my life better by understanding my ‘self’ just a little better.
So why after all these years has this now become a ‘thing’ again? A couple of reasons…
The first is that I was reflecting… one of those things that happens when I get alone time… that when I think about my childhood and my parents and my upbringing, one of the things I note is that we weren’t particularly strong at the outward displays of emotion end of things. There was not a lot – ok – none hugging – there was none hugging in my family. Perhaps a little when being reunited with Nana after a long time between visits but no hugging, very very little cuddling… just not a lot of physical contact.
I’ve noticed that I lean in the same direction. It makes me a little sad. I am trying to fix it.
While being an introvert is a personality trait, it’s not cast in stone – you aren’t “either” an introvert “or” an “extrovert”. Some people have very strong leanings one way or the other but I doubt anyone is 100% one or the other. I can function in a crowd, I can speak in front of people (I don’t like it but I can), and I can be affectionate and cuddly – it’s just something I’m not accustomed to – I can become more accustomed to it – I know I can – I just have to focus a bit.
I also want to explain it to my kids. I don’t want them to think I don’t like them. I don’t want them to think of me as stern – like I thought of my mother and I want them to understand that liking to be alone does not equal not wanting to be with them.
What makes it difficult is that while the boys seem to lean towards introversion, the girl is definitely and extrovert. I’m sure that being the only girl, being the youngest and having a conflicting personality type with your mom is probably a little hard to understand when you are 9. So I want to explain it to her.
I also want to explain it to the boys. I want them to understand their nature now and not have just ‘deal with’ the differences without understanding like I did.
Even though it appears that there is a pretty even split between the inros and the extros in society, extroversion is considered the “norm” in this part of the world anyway and so, because being an “out there” kind of person is considered normal – when you don’t want to go to every party, when you don’t want to hang at the mall and you don’t want to go to the dance or a concert, it can make you feel ‘abnormal’ and I need my boys to know that they are not.
I think everyone should be comfortable being in a room with only themselves now and again… so my new mission is to help my kids learn that that’s ok – and it can be nice, even if only once and a while.
The second thing that has brought this issue to my attention is work. For years I worked at home a couple of days a week and that was great for getting things done that needed strong focus and attention. I could, in my home, close a door, leave a room, or simply ask everyone to leave me alone to do something that required me to be uninterrupted for a while.
Now, I don’t work at home so much and I’m actually finding the time in the office wearing on me. We don’t have walls in our office, at least not many of them and NONE of them are mine. I also sit in an area that is central to everyone and every thing. I’m close to the front door, the factory door, the kitchen door, the meeting room door – it’s very hard to maintain focus here. I don’t have a solution to this problem yet – but give me a minute to think about it.
Thanks for checking in
Credit for the graphic – found on pintrest – borrowed from Words