A Swan In Her Feathers

Having just spent over a week with quite a lot of out-going people in my home, I found it humorous to discover a post on Adam Young's official Owl City blog about introverted people. The ten points about introverts are written by an actual psychiatrist (for what that is worth) and should be fairly creditable. At the very least, I was able to sympathize and relate to them all; some more so, some less, but always each one hit the mark for me. A week with an unusually large amount of people would probably leave anyone fatigued (no offence, of course, on my guests!) but it was nice to read about how my personality reacts, and to realize that people out there really do understand how introverts work.

"You'd think we were all poor little pygmy people, who never travelled from our fire! Though in my case, of course, she's right."

Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.

This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.

I've seen this in action. My father-in-law, who is very introverted, won't stop once you get him going on a topic of interest. I'm not quite so talkative even when I'm allowed to go on about a subject I enjoy, but that's really only because I'm not often allowed to have the floor for long, and I don't want to bore people. If I could, I could go on and on.

Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.

Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.

I'm naturally shy, but I'm also naturally friendly. Always happy to see a show of friendliness in others, I'll willingly open up if you do.

Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.

Introverts often don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries. They want everyone to just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings, so Introverts can feel a lot of pressure to fit in, which they find exhausting.

I hate small talk. I've never got a handle on it, it doesn't mean anything, and it's trivial. I'm not usually blunt in conversation, but please don't make me dabble in small talk. I like to talk about things that matter.

Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people.

On the contrary, Introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in.

For me, this is perfectly true. I'm naturally friendly, if shy, but I don't want or have a lot of friends. There are only a few people to whom I have warmed, and I love them fiercely. They don't usually make friends with me - I claim them for myself. As Raksha the She-Wolf said, "He is mine to me!"

Myth #5 – Introverts don’t like to go out in public.

Nonsense. Introverts just don’t like to go out in public FOR AS LONG. They also like to avoid the complications that are involved in public activities. They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.” They’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for Introverts.

If your eyeballs are wide open all the time, they would get tired faster too. My imagination is like a vacuum running all the time, drawing in everything it can. I like being out, especially with my people, but I wear out easily. My sister especially, who is probably more of an introvert that I am, wears down quickly. We're like flashes of lightning rather than florescent bulbs, or cactus flowers rather than pansies: we take things in short bursts, but we do like to take them all the same.

Myth #6 – Introverts always want to be alone.

Introverts are perfectly comfortable with their own thoughts. They think a lot. They daydream. They like to have problems to work on, puzzles to solve. But they can also get incredibly lonely if they don’t have anyone to share their discoveries with. They crave an authentic and sincere connection with ONE PERSON at a time.

I don't know if I would say one person, though I have noticed that, even if I am talking in a crowd, I only remember talking to the person I was immediately addressing. Which gets awkward when I try to tell the same story afterward to others who had been standing by at the time. But the rest is true, I prefer sitting by and listening and thinking to myself. I'm not really a puzzler, but I am absolutely a daydreamer, and I get horribly moody and agitated when I can't share my ideas with anyone.

Myth #7 – Introverts are weird.

Introverts are often individualists. They don’t follow the crowd. They’d prefer to be valued for their novel ways of living. They think for themselves and because of that, they often challenge the norm. They don’t make most decisions based on what is popular or trendy.

Oh, I'm definitely weird. But I'm not ashamed of it, and I'm not weird for the sake of being weird. I'm just myself, and so long as 'myself' is respectable, I let myself be what I am wherever I am. I don't like being put in a box or being told how to dress or what to say. So long as I am respectable, I like being me.

Myth #8 – Introverts are aloof nerds.

Introverts are people who primarily look inward, paying close attention to their thoughts and emotions. It’s not that they are incapable of paying attention to what is going on around them, it’s just that their inner world is much more stimulating and rewarding to them.

This assessment is a trifle pretentious. I hope I'm not aloof (though I may be a nerd). The simple fact is that, referring upward to Myth #5, since I take in the world through agoggle-open eyes, I have to go away inside myself to think about it. And thinking about God, life, myself, reality in general, is very important to me.

Myth #9 – Introverts don’t know how to relax and have fun.

Introverts typically relax at home or in nature, not in busy public places. Introverts are not thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. If there is too much talking and noise going on, they shut down. Their brains are too sensitive to the neurotransmitter called Dopamine. Introverts and Extroverts have different dominant neuro-pathways. Just look it up.

Do people really think that about introverts? It's true, I'm much more stimulated by a scene of a Cumbrian fell, or a blast of sea-wind in my face, than I am by a crowd of people walking on Main Street. I don't need (or want) to do anything wild and crazy like get on a roller-coaster, or jet-ski, or anything of that sort. Sitting down with my copy of Francis Bacon (which Rhodri graciously gave back to me today) is much more my cup of tea.

Myth #10 – Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts.

A world without Introverts would be a world with few scientists, musicians, artists, poets, filmmakers, doctors, mathematicians, writers, and philosophers. That being said, there are still plenty of techniques an Extrovert can learn in order to interact with Introverts. (Yes, I reversed these two terms on purpose to show you how biased our society is.) Introverts cannot “fix themselves” and deserve respect for their natural temperament and contributions to the human race. In fact, one study (Silverman, 1986) showed that the percentage of Introverts increases with IQ.

Yeah, what he said. Thankfully I've never been in a crowd that wanted me to "loosen up" or "get real," and all those other strange phrases which people have come up with. I'm not really sure what they mean by it. I'm not sure they do, either. At any rate, thank goodness the Church is made for unity, not uniformity. I can be myself and still be myself as I am made more like Christ. Though, of course, being like Christ is far more important than "being myself."

So I'm introverted! I don't wear it like a badge, it's just what sort of person I am, and I'm comfortable in my own feathers this way. I've noticed that a lot of my characters, though not necessarily introverted, at least appreciate the value of companionable silence, which is something introverts understand. They don't need to always be doing something, or going places, or filling their eyeballs with the crazy colours of a dizzy, confused world. Sitting down side by side in thoughtful quiet is a stronger bond to them than any activity could ever be. If you have a really good friend, you probably know what this is like. Rudyard Kipling understood: he wrote "The Thousandth Man" about it. It's not a bad thing to be introverted - it's not a bad thing to be extroverted. It's good to stop and think and mull over and consider the wondrous works of God and number our days, to be sober-minded and circumspect.

But his silence at last drew attention upon it, and one of them said:
'Come, young Curdie, what are you thinking of?'

'How do you know I'm thinking of anything?' asked Curdie.

'Because you're not saying anything.'

'Does it follow then that, as you're saying so much,
you're not thinking at all?'

The Princess and Curdie, by George MacDonald

13 ripostes:

  1. I guess I'm an introvert. I didn't even know what one was before I read this. :-P I might end up posting something similar in the near future.

  2. I am very much an introvert. As I read Owl City's blog post, I was mentally agreeing with every point! :)

  3. I love this. A link to this list has actually been going round on facebook for a while. Each point is so true - we should start an introvert's club! (oh wait, that might be a little odd :-P)

  4. Hermits United. We get together every ten years and swap stories about caves. It's fun. For hermits.

  5. I was thinking of that.(@ hermits united)I can't remember when though, weather it was at our gathering (I doubt it) or weather it was reading the introvert list somewhere else. Bother it I can't remember. I think I am a introvert myself, much as I enjoyed our gathering.

  6. I'm beginning to think that the majority of the blogger world must be introverts, I've seen Owl City's post come up a lot while reading over different blogs. I myself even posted a link to it, saying it was like a guideline for me!
    It makes sense that introverts would be bloggers, I just wonder if we are really as few as they make us out to be. I've certainly never felt alone in my introvert ways. Thank goodness for that!

  7. I was thinking the same thing, Georgie. Blogging is a way to interface with a large number of people without having to be face to face. And that has its uses: you aren't interrupted mid-thought, you're not short on time, you can answer questions one at a time, and that sort of thing.

    I've had the opportunity to overcome my introvert ways, especially the shy aspects, now that I'm published and people want me Out There for Publicity's Sake. It's nerve-wracking, but manageable. I haven't done anything on a large scale yet, so we'll see how well I hold up under such circumstances when they come around. :P

  8. Lys/Sarah/Elspeth here. Feels weird commenting from my "business" blog, but I'm signed in and it doesn't make sense to switch to livejournal to comment on blogspot posts. :-P

    Lilly sent me a copy of this, asking me if she was an introvert. I wasn't sure, but when I read the debunk of myth #4, I thought "THAT'S JENNY". I actually do remember you "claiming" me. I had no idea it had happened until much later, though. ;-)

    I'm glad you did. The pack's a bit rough-and-tumble at times, but it's a good one, and I'm proud to be in it.

    P.S. Mum wants to know where you found your illustration. Is it Ellerton?

  9. No, not Ellerton. It's by Apofis on DeviantART. The cat illustrations are ridiculously beautiful.

    Never mind the titles. I know who you are. ;)

  10. *trying to remember last time I commented on your blog and failing* Anyway, hi! I love that quote at the end of this post! :) Pretty sure I'm an introvert... although I am sometimes somewhat of a thrill seeker. :D I love what you said about lightening flashes, though! Perfect comparison. :D

  11. LOL! What's funny is I just recently saw this on ANOTHER person's blog! :D

    I don't think I'm really an Introvert, nor am I am Extrovert. I'm sort of in between. But what you said here - this could have come from me. xD

    "Oh, I'm definitely weird. But I'm not ashamed of it...I'm just myself, and so long as 'myself' is respectable, I let myself be what I am wherever I am. I don't like being put in a box or being told how to dress or what to say. So long as I am respectable, I like being me."

    You could also change "respectable" to "respectful" and it would fit me. :) Nice post!

  12. Yes, these silly little things do get about, don't they? It's a strange world, the blogosphere.

  13. Yes, it can be... but I love it! :D