Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How Do Introverts Do Extrovert Things?

Introvert:  (not scientific, this is my personal description) ...
  • Shy, but not always
  • thinks a lot, reads a lot, studies a lot, ponders a lot
  • finds small talk very uncomfortable & annoying
  • feels terribly alone and out of place in a crowd
  • does not enjoy parties, gatherings, etc & seldom makes new friends there because we tend to stick with someone we know
  • often "just wants to go home"
  • enjoys solitude, in fact needs alone time to recharge
  • is exhausted by stimulation of being around other people
  • giving a talk in front of a crowd is far easier than talking to one or two people
  • does not enjoy participating in a class or meeting and does not want to work in a group
  • prefer to think things over before we speak
  • is comfortable with one's self, alone is not lonely
  • appear dull & uninteresting, but often actually have a good sense of humor & can carry on a conversation if they want to (they just don't want to)
  • hate surprises, and do not want anyone to drop by without calling
  • are not stuck up, mad, anti-social ... they just need time alone, and are often lost in thoughts
  • does not have the need to "do something" and"be with other people" every minute of the day
  • down time is not wasted time, it is recharging and rejuvenating time
      The first 18 years of my life I was extremely shy.  I have always felt like it was maybe 25% just my personality and 75% environment.  My environment was a weird one but I didn't realize that at the time. It was all I knew.  Until the 4th grade I was the only white kid in my class and everyone else's first language was Spanish, which I did not speak.  At home we lived in total isolation.  No one ever visited.  No one came to dinner.  No one had friends that came over.  Inside our four walls we all walked around on eggshells.  There were no family activities, no family conversations, no hugs or kisses, no laughter. none. really. Children were meant to be seen and not heard was branded in my brain. When I learned to read and by some miracle my mom got me a library card was the best thing that ever happened to me. I remember the library allowed a 3 book checkout.  At age 6 I walked the half a mile to the library by myself several times a week (if my kids or grandkids at age 6 wanted to take off on a half a mile walk by themselves ... well let's just say it would not happen!)  From then on I had my nose in a book any time I was awake and that was my means of escape.   54 years later it still is.   How could I have been anything but an introvert!
      I did not come out of my shell until I was 36 and got the job I always wanted, working in a library.  When I was at work I was required to do school presentations, public speaking, storytimes, booktalks for teenagers, a multitude of things outside my comfort zone and I created a persona so that I could do the job well.  I admired Mr. Rogers (Fred Rogers) and his gentleness with children.  My persona was a combination of Mary Poppins, Fred Rogers and ... don't laugh, Doris Day. Hey, she always was smiling, was always friendly, was always outgoing, was always "good."  It worked for me.  I had a very successful career.
     The people I was close to could not understand how I could be so successful at work and do all kinds of things in front of large groups but would have a huge panic attack if I had to socialize with a few people.  All I can say is I could be the person I created but when I had to be "me" and come up with small talk like at a luncheon I would be almost frozen with fear.
      About that same time that I got my dream job I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons).  One thing I did not realize is that in my church there is no paid ministry and "sermons" are given by church members when asked by the Bishop.  I mean, I knew the Sunday speakers were members, I just didn't realize they would be asking ME.  Talk about growth.  I learned to love writing and giving sermons, after I got over the initial shock that I would be asked.  It was not scary at all.
      The persona I created was the person I wanted to be.  It was not fake.  It may have caused me to break out of my shell and out of my comfort zone but it was the personality I wanted to have and therefore I did.  That is exactly how this introvert could do extrovert things.  Towards the end, though, before my breakdown, it was so hard to put on that game face and be perky all day I would get in my car and just cry from exhaustion.   At the end of the day I was just plain old me.  The introvert always won.
P.S.  Another blogger just helped me see something!!  When we are passionate about something we can pull up the strength to do what is required.  See, I learned something today.  I love my blogger friends!


  1. While our backgrounds and our childhoods are very different, our personality characteristics are very similar. Introverts can have a tough time in an extrovert world. I did. But I found my passion and my power.

  2. I really saw myself as I was reading your list. Everything was me, except I certainly don't want to speak before a crowd.

  3. I am an introvert as well and I went through a severe depression during my early 40's. Eventually, I found my own voice and my life changed and my confidence grew. Finding a voice--that is very related to why I blog. And I can see the progression of thought in your posts as well.

  4. I guess I am a git of both. I enjoy solitude but need people and am a bit of a party hound.
    Big difference, I am terrifies of public speaking. Bravery is doing what we are afraid to do which you have managed.. I am not brave.