For an introvert his environment is himself and can never be subject to startling or unforeseen change. -Quentin Crisp
I've been thinking about (and defending) introversion a lot these days. Last week, while throwing in the early morning hours a friend and I started talked talking about our childhoods. He confessed his extreme shyness as a child, which I could relate to. In his case, he vowed to work through his shyness. He was successful, as he might be the most gregarious, social butterfly I've ever encountered.
He noted that I have two very different sides. My professional side is outgoing, talkative, sometimes almost aggressive in accomplishing what needs to be done. I'm far from a shrinking violet, and thrive in circumstances that require I put on a show. My personal side is altogether different. I don't care for crowds and find myself getting downright surly if I'm pressed to entertain too large a group for too long a time. If I have my choice, I'll usually duck away to a smaller, quieter space. I argued that my professional self is a costume of sorts. It's an outfit that I like. I slip into it, but I enjoy removing it at the end of the day when the work is done.
He calls this fear. I disagree. If my introversion was fear-based, I wouldn't have a professional alternate. I would struggle with requirements of my job that include regular communicating, presenting, leading or in any other way engaging large groups of people. While I will admit I do feel anxiety in large social events, I don't have a fear of people as much as I have a fear about losing the sanctity of my peaceful cushion of space I prefer to keep around me. People require attention, entertainment and distraction. Almost to an extreme. In a circle of a few friends, I find enjoyment in debating and laughing. As that group expands and grows, intimacy becomes more of a battle to be seen and heard. People clamor over noise. Noise clamors back. People shift as they become aware of other people observing them. Gradually, sincerity leaves the room and all that's left are masks and shells. And that's when a large social environment begins to feel like a massive waste of time and energy.
Dr. Marti Olsen Laney, psychotherapist and author of the book The Introvert Advantage, lists the commonmisconceptions about introverts on her website. The top 10? I've starred the ones I've been slapped with over the years:Dr. Marti Olsen Laney, psychotherapist and author of the book The Introvert Advantage, lists the commonmisconceptions about introverts on her website. The top 10? I've starred the ones I've been slapped with over the years:
10) Party Poopers
7) Lacking Social Skills
6) Won't Talk
*5) Don't Like People
Suffice it to say, the book is on my reading list. And when I'm done, I think I'm going to pass it on to him for required reading. I'm wired differently. And I'm very okay with that.