I’m an Introvert (and I’m Okay)

5 Feb

This was meant to be a serious post (and it is really), but since writing the title of this post, I can’t get the Monty Python Lumberjack Song out of my head. If you haven’t heard of Monty Python this may be a bit lost on you (I’m not sure how well known Monty Python is across the pond).

Anyway, on to the real business of this blog post…

I have recently finished reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, and I can’t believe what an eye-opener it turned out to be. I am an introvert, but to be honest I never really understood what that meant.

As a child and teenager, I was always happiest in my own company and preferred reading a book by myself to going out. I hated house-parties (although I enjoyed going out to clubs — interesting!) and if I was in a situation where I was “on show” in a big group of people, I couldn’t wait to get home to the quiet.

I’ve never been good at small talk and it actually still makes me feel intensely uncomfortable. I’d rather have a meaningful conversation with someone that chit-chat about nothing. It seems like a waste of time to me. That’s another thing that introverts have in common, according to Quiet.

I have to admit that I thought being shy and being introverted were the same thing. Now I know they aren’t, and I feel like I understand myself better for knowing this. The thing is, I can talk to new people absolutely fine. I’ll admit that I’m quite guarded and I don’t talk much about myself, but I’m perfectly happy getting to know someone new.

I wonder if it’s almost easier being a shy introvert. If you’re shy, people seem to accept that even if they don’t really understand it. But if you’re not particularly shy and decide that you want some time to yourself, you’re instantly branded moody or unsociable. I know that because it has happened to me in the past, more than once.

You can only hear that so many times before you wonder if it’s true, especially when you need a lot of time by yourself — which I do. I can also get snappy if I’m interrupted when I’d prefer to be alone. Luckily, my OH is also an introvert, and understands and accepts this about me.

I found the parts of the book relating to introverts at work especially interesting, as I saw a lot of myself in what Cain had written. For instance, I’ve often wondered why I don’t like talking about what I’m working on until it’s finished. Inevitably when people find out I’m a writer, they want to know precisely what I’m working on at that exact moment, and I’m always vague. People never seem satisfied with my answer, but I don’t feel comfortable sharing more. Now I understand that this too is related to my being introverted.

(The blogging community is completely different, I’ve found. You never ask for more details than I’m willing to share and I’m very grateful for this. I wonder if that’s because a lot of bloggers are introverts?)

Introverts often turn out to be creative people, and it seems that there’s something about the creative process, and often the need for solitude for this to manifest itself, that suits an introvert. I’m sure we could all name writers who are introverted, and probably much more easily than we could name extrovert writers.

If you’ve ever wondered about yourself, or you know an introvert who you want to understand better, go and track this book down immediately. I feel a lot more comfortable in my own skin since doing so, and I understand better not only what will make me uncomfortable but also how I can push myself.

And I also know that if I’m at a party or gathering and find myself hiding in the bathroom for five quiet minutes, that’s fine!

Have you read this book? If so, what do you think? Can you relate to any of the points in this blog post?

(One last thought: apparently a lot of introverts feel more comfortable sharing information about themselves online. I can almost guarantee that if we were sat talking face to face, I probably wouldn’t have told you what I just wrote in this blog post. Strange, huh?)

Source: JoeInSouthernCA, Flickr

Source: JoeInSouthernCA, Flickr

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7 Responses to “I’m an Introvert (and I’m Okay)”

  1. Christina James February 5, 2013 at 6:56 pm #

    I haven’t read this, Stacey, but I recognise from your commentary certain aspects of myself, though more in the past than now. I wouldn’t call myself an introvert, but, like you, I have always preferred proper conversation to chit-chat. I have always been happy writing and reading alone, too. I am not convinced, however, that once an introvert, always one. I’m a bit chary of categorising myself or other people, as circumstances change things. Confidence is something that often comes with experience and I firmly believe that giving one’s children stability is crucial to their ability to go out and meet the world with, at the very least, the air of the extrovert! I’m actually more unwilling to open up online than in face-to-face conversation and found it quite unnerving to reveal aspects of myself when I embraced the need to network!
    An interesting topic. Oh, dear… I’m going to be pondering on this!
    P.S. Oh, those lumberjacks! *peals of laughter*

    • Stacey Mitchell February 8, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

      You make a good point about circumstances changing things. I often wonder about that because my brother and I were brought up in exactly the same way but he’s very much an extrovert, unlike me. He’s only 3 years younger than me, so there’s not a very big age gap either.

  2. Elle Turner February 6, 2013 at 7:45 pm #

    I can certainly relate to some of the points you’ve made. Broadly speaking I prefer staying in to going out, unless I’m going out with company I know pretty well. And I certainly prefer talking about my writing online. A really interesting post, Stacey. :-)

    • Stacey Mitchell February 8, 2013 at 4:37 pm #

      Thanks Elle, and thanks for commenting :-) I’m exactly the same went it comes to going out. Sometimes a nice quiet night in is best!

  3. Natalie February 7, 2013 at 8:19 pm #

    I think I need to read that book! I was nodding along to so much of what you just said. My husband is very much an introvert too – maybe more so than me! I still find it hard even talking about myself and my work online. Not so much to strangers, but if I am using a media that my friends and family are connected to I am very careful about what I say (unlike my sisters! I cringe what I see their statuses and photos on Facebook – not only is our Mum on there, but so is our Grandma!).

    • Stacey Mitchell February 8, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

      Oh the curse of Facebook! I certainly feel a lot of freedom writing on my blog, not because I can’t talk to my family, but because the writing community seems to understand me and what it’s like to write.

      The book is so interesting, though, and definitely worth a read :-)

      • Natalie February 8, 2013 at 6:28 pm #

        I have really noticed, since becoming more involved with blogging and Twitter, etc, how supportive the online writing community is. :-)

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