Until my mid-twenties, I didn't know I was an introvert. Learning the term changed my life. I began seeking out as much information as I could find. Everything I read gave me a deeper understanding of why I am the way I am, and provided a clearer picture to my friends who didn't "get me".
Unfortunately, I still find myself sometimes apologetically admitting to my introversion. But this is not one of those times.
I've changed my mind about being an introvert.
I've decided not to be one.
Haha, I kid! As if that's even possible.
While the attention to and research of introversion has expanded greatly, it's still a widely misunderstood personality trait. I've been accused of hiding behind my introversion as if it's part of me - a wall - I need to break down and dispose of. That would no doubt make everyone else more comfortable, but it simply isn't possible. My introversion isn't something I can, nor do I need to, overcome.
I've exhausted myself with over-explaining, often to blank stares, my words and intentions flying over heads. I come across as weird, cold, disconnected. As a writer, I already choose my words carefully so to redefine them for every interaction I have can make me retreat from creating new or investing in relationships. I don't like repeating myself to deaf ears.
Which means I can miss out on potential friendships, and they do too.
"Introverts may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions."
Susan Cain, QUIET
I'm a cat.
My husband explained to a friend who was inquiring about my frequent social absences, "Liz is a cat." When Mat came home and told me how he described me, I laughed, "You're right. Every time he comes over I have a deep desire to hide in another room until he's gone!"
Funny. But it's true.
Our cat, Pixel, is the feline version of me, albeit a bitchier one. For instance, I am much better at social interaction than she is - so long as it's not small talk. I crave deep conversation at length and will extend myself in the event I'll be surrounded by people interested in the same. But then I withdrawal for an equal dose of solitude, recharging alone with Pixel.
Sometimes Mat and I wish people could see the sweet side of Pixel, because when it's just us she's playful, cuddly, and she loves getting attention. I'm the same way when I'm with "my people".
Except cuddly. I still need my space.
I am The Secret Weapon.
Of all the personality assessments I've taken, one has assisted me in every single job interview I've had this year: The Fascination Profile from the book How The World Sees You. The idea is that we grow up forgetting that we are fascinating, that somewhere along the way we stopped believing in who we are and we began adjusting ourselves to act the way others see us. But we have the power to change that. The author "believes the greatest value you can add is to become more of yourself." I couldn't agree more.
My introversion is where my superpowers come from. My two advantages from The Fascination Profile are Mystique and Innovation. I am The Secret Weapon. I think before I speak, and I speak the language of listening.
Discover how you fascinate.
Being an introvert is something I'm proud of. It's how I operate; it's my character, my way of thinking, my heart. It's how I express myself. It's who I am. In person, my introversion may be confusing, and I'm comfortable with that, but if you spend any time reading my blog, then you - more than most - know me.
"In a gentle way, you can shake the world."
I am a Quiet Revolutionary.