Sunday, July 26, 2015

One Introvert's Story

My name is Holly, and I'm an introvert. I like peace and quiet. I enjoy being alone. In fact, I need to be alone sometimes. I prefer small groups over big crowds. I feel uncomfortable and overstimulated at dances and parties. You've probably never heard me shout. I get stressed out by noise and contention. I pay attention to everything: words, actions, movements, etc. I notice things most people never register. I sense everything that is going on around me.

I have always been this way.

The problem with introversion is people don’t understand it. It seems to me that most extroverts truly believe that introverts are handicapped people who just need to "let go" and "lighten up" and "stop being lame." And it boggles my mind that in the year 2015, half of our population still doesn't understand the other half; they don't even care to try.

I was a pretty happy kid. When I was young I had lots of friends, but about the time I started becoming self conscious, my family moved. I became a loner, and in a way, I rather liked it. As a teenager, I had some friends, but honestly, not that many. I knew I was different—that I didn't fit in. The words "come out of your shell" and "lame" and "boring" cropped up increasingly, and I tried so hard to make them go away. I tried to be "fun" and likeable. I wanted to be that person so badly, but no matter how hard I tried, I never was, and I only exhausted myself trying; I usually ended up in tears. (EFY was absolute torture.)

After years of trying to be something I wasn't, I finally learned that being who I was was so much better. You see, there are things I can do that most people can't. I can talk people through their struggles. I can listen to someone who needs someone to care. I can give advice to someone who is lost. I can comfort those who are in pain. I can connect with people through writing. I can understand my own emotions. I can usually analyze and think my way through any problem I'm having. These are nearly invisible qualities, but they are important. So, no, I may not be the life of the party. I may not be wild and crazy. I may have a hard time "letting go," but what I can do is so much more.

Even so, I've been burdened with self esteem problems since puberty. Why? Because I never fit the mold. It's not cool to like reading and learning. It's not cool to be smart and get good grades. It's not cool to prefer listening to news radio over music. It's not cool to stay home when you could go out. I can't tell you how many times I've heard that the things I like are "boring" or "lame." Even at age 26, I still hear it! And every time I do, I can't believe that the people I'm hanging out with haven't moved past their tiny mindset from their teen years, where they see themselves on top of the social pyramid, keeping others like me down. I just don't buy into it anymore. And it only makes me want to stay home all the more to avoid the judgment and the pain of being misunderstood and unappreciated.

So please, stop judging introverts. Stop telling us how uncool we are. Instead, why don't you try to understand us? It would go a long way.

Note: It would be wrong to say that ALL extroverts are this way. They're not. I'm marrying one, and he's been incredibly understanding and accepting of who I am. There have been many other extroverts along the way who have been loving and kind. I appreciate them all. (And I love our differences!) :-)

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