Introversion isn’t a fatal flaw.
Introversion is often misrepresented in popular culture, because it’s confused with shyness and social anxiety. We get the message that something is wrong with us and we need to fix it, it’s seen as a character fault, bordering on mental illness. This can shame introverts into pretending to be someone they’re not, that they have a problem which doesn’t really exist, a self fulfilling prophesy almost. Introverted characters in the media, are often portrayed as having abrasive personalities and a lack of social skills. These negative qualities could be true of an introvert, or an extrovert. Another important point is that introversion and extroversion are on a spectrum, a balance between either.
As introverts, we are waiting and waiting, for people to initiate a conversation, but often they don’t. The critical thing to learn is, to give ourselves permission to share, without being invited. In certain social situations men seem to be at a distinct disadvantage. We don’t do small talk very well, we tend to want to get in and under everything and resolve problems. While polite chit chat, staying awake, and listening would serve us better. But there’s also an age thing happening now, a distinct feeling that I’ve heard it all before. Above the polite chat, I can almost hear myself say. “Who fucking cares” but it’s not a party trick that will get me another invitation, which isn’t a bad thing, I just need to be a bit more selective.
Introversion can be powerful.
Don’t underestimate me because I’m quiet. I know more than I say, think more than I speak, and observe more than you know. (Michaela Chung) When I was a lot younger those words, “Your quiet” “Is everything alright” “Are you not feeling well” meant the end of the night for me. It put me under the “spotlight,” which was the last place I wanted to be. It was something I was never going to recover from, it would have me looking for an exit door. Also the “look” didn’t help, “you think your better than everyone else, anti-social and only interested in yourself.” None of this was anyone’s fault, it may or may not have been happening, but it was how I perceived it at the time.
I don’t feel like that anymore, I’m never going to be the life and soul of the party, and that’s fine, I can live with it. I now find that I’m smiling on the inside. I’m not sure why, but maybe I’m observing more than you know now, as the above quote says.
Never assume that the person you are dealing with is weaker or less important than you are. Some people are slow to take offense, which may make you misjudge the thickness of their skin, and fail to worry about insulting them. But should you offend their honor and their pride, they will overwhelm you with a violence that seems sudden and extreme given their slowness to anger. If you want to turn people down, it is best to do so politely and respectfully, even if you feel their request is impudent or their offer ridiculous.” (Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power)
Introversion in being self contained.
I have been self contained for as long as I can remember. My parents did the best they could, with the resources and knowledge available to them. Jobs were plentiful and education wasn’t a priority. They were passing on what they hadn’t learned themselves, it all seemed perfectly normal. As I was growing up, school reports meant absolutely nothing to them. If they weren’t worried, I certainly wasn’t. It was much later that resentfulness crept in as I realized, the opportunities an education could have given me. I certainly wasn’t unique of course, I was just a symptom of the times we were living in. My father forced me into a job that I had no interest in, his philosophy was, it’s not a proper job unless you sweat, which became part of my resentment.
I loved both of them, but I got it into my head that they didn’t care, how could they, if they showed no interest in me. This Started me on the pathway I think, of my becoming more introverted, I decided, that if they were not going to show any interest in me, then I wouldn’t in them. I kept all my personal achievements to myself, I was completely self contained. This has left me with a legacy, that I now find it hard to share anything I have achieved. I’m never quite good enough, there is always something more to achieve. But I also have a feeling of strength, for within my introversion, there is real power in going about my business, quietly and carefully. Listening more than I speak and taking action, after careful consideration. I may not be remembered for the spoken word, but the few words I have written down, may be useful.