In the last few months I have done a lot of thinking about my own introversion. It started when I watched Susan Cain’s wonderful TED talk. I read a few book’s on the subject (including Susan’s) but I’ve also been remembering my story.
I remember going with my Dad to a community event in a pub and being sat in the children’s section. I remember being so overwhelmed by all these new kids I didn’t know that I found my Dad and burst into tears.
One of my earliest memories is of walking alone around my primary school watching the birds and thinking about what year it was and what that meant. I must have been 4 or 5 years old. I have a lot of memories of being alone and thinking. Those are good memories.
I have only ever like socialising in small groups. I did and still do feel very out of my depth in large social scenes. I’m happiest on my own, with a book or having one of those ‘deep and meaningful’ conversations with a friend or two.
Anywhere I have worked, I have preferred to spend my lunch breaks alone. I don’t think I ever really understood why. It just seemed like the healthiest and happiest thing to do. Even as a child, long walks walking the family dog were essential to me.
A part of me has often wondered if this is a flaw of mine. Why couldn’t I be more of a party animal or enjoy being part of the gang. It’s a relief to know that it’s simply not what I am. According to Susan, one third to half of all people are introverted. I have a preference for using adjectives rather than nouns. My noun of choice in all situations is person/people. Introverted people tend to have a lower tolerance for stimulation. They/we also recharge in solitude. We prefer to connect with others through ideas. We live life from the inside out. Our personal/interior lives are where it’s happening for us. We think long before we speak. If you can get us to the party, we’re usually having a deep conversation somewhere or hanging out in the edges.
In her book Introver Power, Laurie Helgoe talks about how when it comes to socialising, extroverts are like solar panels: they are constantly energised by it. Introverts, on the other hand, are rechargeable batteries: we are drained by it and need time out to bring our energy levels back up.
What I am left with, or working with now, is the sense or challenge that my introversion is not something for me to compensate for. Rather, it is the side of me that I should most nurture. When I give myself the time to be alone, to write, to dream, to journal and create, I am at my best. The challenge for me is to take that creativity that comes from solitude and bring it to the world.
Cain, Susan. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking
Helgoe, Laurie. Introver Power: Why Your Inner Life is Your Hidden Strength
Watch Susan Cain’s TED talk ‘The Power of Introverts’