Thursday, 22 November 2012

A little bit more about introversion. Then I'll be quiet. Y'know, for a change?

Hello again.

It seems my post yesterday drew out a few fellow introverts in the comments.  I knew there was a good reason to bring up the subject and loudly declare myself as one of the quiet folk!

So thank you for adding your voice to mine.

As I mentioned yesterday, it's taken me until now to realise that 'introvert' is probably a good way to describe myself. And I'm ambivalent about that.

Not because I don't want to be one. But because it took so long to make itself clear.

Because, ever since then I've been able to start letting myself off the hook for things I've always thought I needed to change about myself. Things like:
  • being quiet even when I have a lot to say;
  • preferring to stay at home than make an effort to go out and socialise;
  • being reluctant to make video tutorials to share here or to branch out into teaching crafts in 'real life';
And the most recent ...
  • being hesitant to take my products to a craft fair, which I'd like to do ... but where I'd have to discuss them with more than one person at a time! The horror ... ;-)
Now, I'm not saying that just because I've willingly stuck an 'introvert' label on the front my cardigan that I'm using it as an excuse not to do things, not to push myself, not to progress, no ... it's just that:
  • It's given me a reason to be kinder to myself while I 'gird my loins' and prepare myself to try new things.
  • It allowins me to give myself breathing space. To stop beating myself up.
  • It's helped me understand how I can feel completely happy and confident in myself ... while not always feeling able to project that to others;
And also, importantly:
  • reading up on how introverts find social interactions physically tiring has helped explain how I can attend meetings etc with perfect confidence and composure ... yet sometimes when I return home and lock the door behind me I slump into a small heap and just want to be quiet / watch TV / do puzzles / read / sleep etc.
  • Knowing that this is common amongst introverts has come as such a relief to me! As someone who once suffered from depression these moments would often make me afraid it was somehow sneaking back into my life. But it isn't. It's just who I am. What I do. And, fortunately, it only lasts a few hours.
Sharing this with you is helping me to clarify what I've recently learned but I hope it helps someone else too. Maybe you. And I think it's good to reach out and speak up ... because quiet folk really do get a rough deal at times, for example ...

How often have you been in a social situation - with other adults, not children - where one person walked up to another and told them outright, sparing no blushes to just shut the heck up? Not very often I'll bet ... yet people seem to think nothing of telling a quiet person that they should be saying more! 

 And, on a personal note, in a job I once had in a school I was once told by a member of staff - in front of others - that they'd been expecting one thing, one particular kind of person ... but then they got me!
And for a long time after that I felt I couldn't possibly be doing that job properly until ...
  • until a teacher said she admired the way I could sit quietly with the children, especially in art lessons, 'modeling' the behaviour and the work that was expected from them;
  • until a headteacher said I did a good job at sitting and playing board games and chatting with kids at breakfast club;
  • until a teacher wrote in my leaving card that she'd now have to find someone else to calmly keep a particularly distractable child on task!  
  • until I realised that I simply had a 'different' way of working, which helped different children, in different ways to how a more extrovert, gregarious mentor might have. And I learnt that different certainly didn't mean worse!
So, with my true confessions over for the day ... I'll leave you with a few related resources:

It's around 20 mins long but well worth watching if, like me, you're tired of feeling that you need to change to fit in with what the wider world expects!  
OK, I'll leave you in peace. Feel free to go and slump on your sofa now ... if you're not there already ...

Julie x 


  1. This really made me stop and think and yes, I am an introvert too and always felt bad about it. Now I won't, as I will take on board all you have said and apply it to myself! Thank you for a really interesting and thought provoking post.

  2. before I go off to sofa slump - I remember the utter relief when I read that intorverts have energy sapped by interation while extroverts gain energy - it explained so much for me and let me accept how I was - I love to teach and facilitate but know that I need quiet time after to recover energy

  3. Another thought provoking post. The whole energy thing is an eye opener to me - every summer I go away with a big gang of friends camping which I do enjoy but at times find exhausting so have to go off on my own to recharge - in doing so I have been accused of being rude. Now I understand what is going on!

  4. Another thought provoking post. The whole energy thing is an eye opener to me - every summer I go away with a big gang of friends camping which I do enjoy but at times find exhausting so have to go off on my own to recharge - in doing so I have been accused of being rude. Now I understand what is going on!

  5. I'm so glad that I'm not the only who'd rather stay in on the sofa than have to go out with a big crowd, I always feel awkward & never know what to say. I totally get the craft fair thing too, I still get nervous about talking to customers - yet my paid job is in customer service & I can talk to anyone really easily lol
    C xx

  6. So true! I love my own company, Julie, and find gatherings are something I can look forward to but rarely enjoy.

    This says it all for me:

    "How often have you been in a social situation - with other adults, not children - where one person walked up to another and told them outright, sparing no blushes to just shut the heck up? Not very often I'll bet ... yet people seem to think nothing of telling a quiet person that they should be saying more!"

  7. According to the test I am an introvert too, but on the cusp of being an ambivert. Fancy!
    I need to have time on my own sometimes and am happy to be in a quiet house, I don't need to have background noise.
    These have been thought provoking posts!

  8. Definitely an introvert too but have become well practised at pretending to be an extrovert. My crop ladies would never believe that I am shy and retiring, but I have taught myself over the years to be more outgoing. I think my years of nursing made me change my behaviour - for three years doing my training every ward report use to say the same thing 'Student Nurse B is too quiet, Student Nurse B needs to find her voice, Student Nurse B needs to speak up, Student Nurse must get over her fear of speaking to doctors' On qualifying my first job was as the sole trained nurse on a ward at night and suddenly I had to become the total opposite of what I really am - I must have done a good job as within a year I had a senior staff nurse position and eventually became a ward sister. Fortunately I don't have to be that person anymore but I still find myself in social situations trying to be an extrovert. I do find that if I give in to my inner introvert I get asked all the time if I am alright, am I ill, what is wrong with me. I feel I can't win sometime. I am pleased to see that there are loads of other introverts here!!

  9. I can relate to lots of what you have said Julie, so i took the test and have a tendency to be introvert! I like my own company, prefer to stay in rather than go out in crowds.

  10. Great posts...... Interesting stuff, from one who likes to remain anonymous...

  11. Julie, I wanted to pop back and let you know how much I have still been thinking about your posts and also that I watched the Bradley Wiggins documentary on Sky this evening and I think you might enjoy it too. I certainly thought of myself and then you when I was watching it.

  12. I am also an introvert and just began to understand it better, too, this past year. I just wrote an article about how I do art journaling, as an introvert. I am MUCH more exhausted after a day spent teaching and talking, than the extroverted teachers! Great post. Thank you!

  13. This is very enlightening, you are describing me! Hadn't really thought much about the word 'introvert' but I think I may just be one. My mum was always making me feel bad for being quiet when I was young, as my sister is loud and confident, and she thought I should be too. She said everyone would think I was weird if I didn't speak more :'(

    Thank you for your honesty and reflections on this subject :-)

  14. Great post, Julie, so much I can identify with. I first found out just what an introvert is (I confused it with shyness) from a video on and then watched Susan Cain's fab TED talk. It made so much sense and I was so relieved that what I thought was me lacking in energy and being a bit of a wuss is actually my introverted nature! I did my first trade fair in Jan and felt like my energy dial was turned up to 10 every day, leaving me shattered while my extrovert friends looked so at ease their dial was only on about 3. All I could do at the end of each day was stagger back to my brother's, eat dinner and be in bed by 9pm, while others went out socialising, no way I could do that. So many more examples I can think of :)

  15. Really listening and paying attention to others and responding in the way each individual needs in order for her/him to feel met and heard does indeed use up a great deal of energy. It doesn't surprise me at all, Julie. that you would close the front door and slump, especially with all the other energies swirling around in a classroom which you'll be having to block out - which in itself takes lots of energy on your part! In fact, far from being absorbed with your inner world, you are engaging deeply with the outer. (I always have a question mark about labels - can you tell?) Glad you are feeling more comfortable being you.

  16. I'm certainly on the introvert side. Standing up and speaking to a class of adult learners is relatively easy....talking in a group of people is much,much harder.....I definately prefer to stay home than make an effort to go out and socialise.
    I do enjoy the company of others....but am very happy in my own company....and never feel that silence needs to be filled with talk.

  17. We are lucky to be living in this age where information is so readily available and we can understand what happens to us so much better. :)
    A possible solution for the craft fairs would be to team up with an extrovert.

  18. a long time ago, when I first started work, I was given two personality tests to do. One said I was an introvert, the other an extrovert. I think we all have bits of both and they just come out in different situations.

  19. One weekend while visiting a friend I found a book of hers describing introverts and I literally cried I was so relieved to have myself be described without apology.


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