I am an introvert. I am not shy, I am not a snob– I am an introvert. Last night I read this, I was surprised with how I identified with most of the signs.
Audience participation shows scare me, I need my alone time to recharge after hanging out with people, I feel like a fake when I am networking and I always sit at the back of an auditorium so that I can sneak out if necessary… I could go on. This does not mean that I don’t get lonely, there are times I need people around, as long as I get my space. I like having conversations as long as it is one-on-one and with a friend/family member.
Growing up I was nudged gently to be more social, to ask questions at talks and to be assertive. My ‘shyness’ was seen as something that would hinder my growth professionally as well as socially. I pushed myself to be more friendly and to make an effort to small-talk at get-togethers, but I always found it tiresome. I would dread going to parties and would make excuses to get out of it. My stomach would ache, I would get nervous and start sweating before a presentation or a party.
Over the last few years I have embraced my ‘shyness’. I don’t go to parties/get-togethers where small-talk and meeting random people is involved. I prefer meals with a few friends or going for a film. My job as a writer lets me work in my space and at my pace. But, at the back of my mind I always wonder if I was taking the easy way out, If I am meant to make the effort to be extroverted to lead a more fulfilling life, if I was missing out.
Recently, there have been a spate of articles, books and talks on being an ‘introvert’, the power an introvert possesses, and suddenly its cool to be an introvert. It is great that introverts are getting all this attention (oh, the irony), but the point is not about one being better than the other. It is about acceptance. It is OKAY to be an introvert and it is okay to need your alone time. At the same time is is okay to be an extrovert and to thrive in social gatherings. I don’t need to change who I am, I need to accept myself and have others accept me for who I am. After all, it takes all sorts to make this world.