Owning your introversion

I seem to be having a blogging hiatus over the Christmas period, however I just came across an article that I immediately wanted to share; discovered as a result of my google search under the word “introverted”. This was in the context of scouring for group activities geared at introverts in my local area (a project designed at “getting me out” more in 2018).

It’s a piece entitled “Caring for Your Introvert” by Jonathan Rauch which, according to Oliver Burkeman of the Guardian, was still the most popular article on Atlantic Magazine years after it was published. Why so many hits? Presumably because it hits a certain nail on the head about introversion (and I agree). According to him, one introverted reader claimed to have printed off copies to hand out to people who queried their long silences in social situations. It’s like an abridged and eminently portable version of Susan Cain’s book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking”, which I have mentioned several times before. These offerings attempt also to address a truth about introversion that only makes the trait even harder to cope with; which is the fact that we are often so profoundly misunderstood by extroverts.

cristina-gottardi-303082Introversion is a topic very close to my own heart, as I’ve written about before ( most recently in Are Your a True Rarity? Embrace It!), especially at the end of a year in which I have…as the author describes, finally owned my very own version of it, with more than a small sigh of whole-body relief. In fact, its been one of my crowning glories of 2017 to achieve this degree of self-acceptance and, yes, appreciation, understanding and respect, at last; which comes with huge health benefits. Having just realised that I have now spent twelve continuous years being home-based with almost no regular people-contact outside of immediate family members and, prior to the two years in an office that led to that, a further nine years running a small business from home, I am forced to admit that twenty-one years of near solitude marks a defining trait more so than an accident. Yet it is incredibly hard to explain such a preference or, rather, need to others; especially when you can be as sociable and, yes, fun-loving and conversational as the next person on the rare times that you go anywhere. To quote directly from Rauch:

Oh, for years I denied it. After all, I have good social skills. I am not morose or misanthropic. Usually. I am far from shy. I love long conversations that explore intimate thoughts or passionate interests. But at last I have self-identified and come out to my friends and colleagues. In doing so, I have found myself liberated from any number of damaging misconceptions and stereotypes. Now I am here to tell you what you need to know in order to respond sensitively and supportively to your own introverted family members, friends, and colleagues. Remember, someone you know, respect, and interact with every day is an introvert, and you are probably driving this person nuts. It pays to learn the warning signs.

In my own case, being no longer prepared to step around it or apologise for it, I marry a stalwart acceptance of the desperate need for me to become more social than the last twelve years have enabled me to be due to my health with an insistence that my introversion be made room for within that context. So far, this is proving hard to achieve…but I will continue to work at it and remain hopeful. Quite a number of introversion-based social meetups now exist (though, so far, none in my area and I’m not quite ready to start one…which, I guess, is the perpetual problem; how do introverts get to meet in the first place?). This article feels like a fitting end-note for a year that has seen me being more quiet and withdrawn than ever…ready to launch into something a little more outward-looking in the New Year. I also want to stress that the theme of my search for social activities to take part in is not that I am “ditching” my introversion by trying to overcome it or over-ride it; rather, by searching for activities that are geared to its preferences, I continue to honour and respect it, showing just how prepared I am to stand by it, which is the ultimate in self-care. Perhaps, if this feels like you, it’s an article you need to read; if only to hand out to others that you encounter along the way. You can read the full article below:

Caring for Your Introvert – Jonathan Rauch

meetup.com – a website for discovering local meet-up events under a wide range of topics  and all kinds of people including, yes, introverts

Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

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