The Power of the Introvert

in·tro·vert

ˈintrəˌvərt/

noun

  1. a shy, reticent person

I’ve always been shy.  Meeting new people was hard for me, and selling Girl Scout cookies door to door was pure torture.  I was eight when we moved to a new house, and I barely remember third grade.  I knew no one, was too shy to make friends, and I barely made a sound.  This was back when classes were in “pods,” four or five classrooms in one big space.  I didn’t dare move from pod to pod when classes changed, and I don’t think the teachers noticed for several weeks.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten over my shyness..somewhat.  Toastmasters helped me with public speaking and addressing a crowd, being a manager has helped me coach and mentor.  I can chat with people I don’t know and make friends.  But unknown situations still make me nervous.  

Shy isn’t the correct term now.  Introvert is.  I have learned to embrace my introvertism.  It’s a strength, not a weakness.

Introvert simply means someone who is energized by alone time, as opposed to extrovert, which is someone who is energized by being with others.  I used to feel guilty when my husband would take the children out and leave me alone in the house.  I enjoyed the peace and quiet.  I thought that made me a bad mother…that I would enjoy being away from my family.  

It doesn’t.  It just means that quiet time is precious to me.  Not having to answer to anyone, to do anything, to go anywhere I didn’t want to.  Knowing that no one is going to make a demand on me for a few hours recharges my batteries.  I enjoy hanging out with friends and family, but at the end of the day, a good book, a glass of wine, and my knitting are just as relaxing.  

Introverts treasure alone time, but it also means we are harder to get out of our shells.  Be patient with us.  You’ll find us witty, kind, good listeners.  We’re happy to meet you for a party or an outing, but we need advance notice so we can prepare ourselves for the demand on our psyche.  We’re not stuck up or snobbish.  We just need a little time and space to be alone and recharge our batteries.

One place where it works nicely is when you pair an extrovert with an introvert.  You have someone who can bring the introvert out of their shell, and someone who can ground the extrovert when their flights of fancy reach too far.  Whether in the workplace or a marriage, introverts and extroverts can balance each other to achieve spectacular goals.  It doesn’t mean one is better than the other.  It means one has strengths the other does not.  Understanding that balance can make the relationship stronger.

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