I remember a childhood of spending entire days on my own. Sometimes I felt lonely but mostly I was absorbed in whatever my environment offered. It was only when people entered the scene that I became confused. I suddenly didn’t know how to behave or what was expected of me.
My reactions to interacting with people confused me for many years. I couldn’t understand why I was not excited when invited to a party or why I would hide somewhere in the garden when family were invited for the day.
I desperately wanted to be friends but I didn’t want to be with everybody.
That’s very confusing for a child. It’s only many years later when I learned about introverts and extroverts that I started to make sense of it all.
I now understand that I am not the only one that avoids parties. I have no idea what to do there. Drink and dance and make a show of being happy and delighted? Exchange pleasantries? So pointless. And excruciatingly boring.
Actually, many introverts have a hard time making sense of their experiences of other people and their own place in the world — a world that is geared towards extroversion that values working and playing in groups.
The dilemma introverts face is that we need people, but we need meaningful interaction more. If you want to talk about the weather, your mother in-law, the price of rice or the best way to keep linen white, you have lost your introvert friend.
Introverts probably need meaning more than we need people. It is common for an introvert to be told: “You think too much!”
So, share your ideas with us. What have you read recently? What is occupying your mind at the moment? Are you struggling to make sense of something that has been puzzling you? This is the type of conversation that introverts thrive on. Here we can give input. Here we will invest.
How do you know if someone is an introvert? It’s probably that person in your circle of friends that you think of as “intellectual” or “spiritual” because he or she often steers the conversation to some or other current controversy or a topic of an esoteric nature. It’s also the one that either repeatedly refuses invitations to parties and social gatherings or accept invitations but always manages to run into some obstacle that prevents them from attending.
But, surprisingly, your introvert friend is not, despite common perceptions, a quiet wall flower. Introverts will surprise you with animated expressions of very definite opinions on just about any topic. That is because we spend a lot of our time reading and thinking. Hence the boredom with small talk – there is so much that could be discussed other than the latest family spat or Mary’s latest boyfriend.
Introverts find sharing of ideas invigorating. Our conversations often end up being very intense and tiring for all parties concerned. That’s when extroverts find someone new to talk to and introverts retreat to recuperate.
There are of course degrees of introversion. I have a good friend who can only be described as an introvert, yet I have on more than one occasion been surprised by her ability to banter with complete strangers. But I have also seen her become very quiet afterwards, almost withdrawn.
It’s an effort for us to talk at length about nothing.