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Learning to love (or just understand) the introvert

December 28, 2014

By nature I am an introvert.

On the outside you would see that I hustle and bustle with the best of them during the long business days and programmed evenings. I have always lived in cities filled with people AND I am very happily married in a beautiful and harmonious relationship.  I am not necessarily shy (most would say I am the opposite,) nor do I have a current tendency to isolate myself from the world (although from time to time I will try.)

So what sort of an introvert am I?  Picture someone who is always thinking, spends a great deal of time in their own head formulating thoughts, patterns, fantasies and sometimes even conversation without the aid of another human being.  We can sometimes appear otherwise occupied and may feel slightly stand-offish as a result.

Knowing that let’s start with small talk.  I do it, often with an uncomfortable struggle.  It is never my intention nor desire to be rude.  I talk about the weather and the weekend, although I will admit silently wondering why people I don’t know really care what I did on my weekend?  What are they possibly going to gain from such information?  Does it really matter how I am in the big picture?  Granted, it’s a nicety, an ice-breaker that some may actually care about (which is genuine and understood by introverts.)  But what if they got something more than, “I’m fine, thanks.”  What if I were to begin talking about all the things that color in the pictures and illustrate the details.  Would it matter then?  Or is it possible their eyes would glaze over and they’d secretly hope to be called away by someone else?  Unfortunately that is what sometimes happens to the introvert if the social ceremony is extended beyond the polite.

You may think this is cynical.  Perhaps.  If so it is likely you are an extrovert.  Couldn’t it just be an alternative?  Introverts love a good deep conversation with meaning and bonding potential.  We have many, we initiate many, we learn from many.  It’s the feeling of emptiness of *some* modern niceties and chatter that we don’t find comfortable and thus necessary.  It is not about the people at all (I expect they are lovely) but just in a matter of taste, much like what we like and dislike when we eat meals. An introvert simply is not a casual conversationalist.  We’re sorry.

An introvert would like to think a smile is fine.  Smiles are valuable and set a mood around your parameter.  They are inviting and warm.  Add a simple: “Good Morning,” “Good Afternoon,” “Good Evening,” or “Hello!” and the world is just right.  We expect the ratio of introvert to extrovert is heavily weighed on the side of the latter (that statistic could be completely wrong,)  so after the “Hello” just wait a beat, someone will be by to talk about what they did on the weekend.

Just a note: an introvert isn’t mean, anti-social or unfriendly (well, not all of them.)  They just don’t find the fringes of casual conversational connections as entertaining (understanding that the point of a conversation can be subjective to those having it and only defining from the point of the introvert.)  Add some substance (also subjective) and we are potentially reeled in (no guarantees.)  But again,  light chatting is extremely appeasing to many who are not introverted as a basis or foundation of the relationships involved.  This is where it is important to distinguish the introvert from the extrovert.  Introversion is simply less initially gregarious.  It’s really all about the comfort zone.

Anyone who knows me understands that I am always willing to talk with friends, they know me as a listener and a giving soul.  But I tend to connect on a one-on-one level by looking into your eyes and finding the meat of the discussion.  I never shy from a friendly debate or a conversation of experience and common traits.  I love to listen about things that I can learn from and I am always going to give of my time if you need to let something go.

Not always on a phone, however… as an introvert I find phones cold and impersonal.  I will keep the conversation on point and drive home the solution or necessary communication in order to hang up and move on to something else.  If an introvert is not willing to converse with you on the phone it isn’t because they don’t like you or your conversation, it only means they are not wired to shooting the breeze.

An introverted personality loves company but does not require it to eat a meal, go to a movie or take a vacation.  This is not a statement on strength or weakness, as much as a means of understanding that the extrovert potentially relies on the need for the company in order for the activity to be worthy or complete.  The introvert is also often the one with headphones on while they are doing the traveling, walking, or working.  It is a nice easy way to stay within one’s personal realm.  If you think about it this is helpful for the avoidance of casual conversation as well (see earlier, where the smile is the most appropriate of means to great and communicate in regular daily activities.)

Why the blog on introverts?  Why not.  We can be a mis-understood lot.  I thought I would introduce myself to anyone who might be reading, while at the same time assuring those who may already know me that I am not anti-social or not fond of you because I keep to myself from time to time.  I’ve probably got something going on in the over-active mind.  I am likely very deep in thought.

If that is the case:  “Hello.”  Look for the smile, it’s there.

Stop. Smile. Breathe.

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