This is just one of the many things that I decide to do instead of working on my Student Government campaign.
- Graded work. In school, there is constantly a debate, Socratic seminar, vocal presentation, group project, or (my least favorite) the reading of one's creative writing. And worse, it's mandatory. I hate being penalized for liking to keep my thoughts to myself, so I am forced to speak on things I'd rather not. I remember my first large group discussion in eighth grade. There were at least 20 kids in this discussion, and not only was the topic uncomfortable for me to express my true feelings, but I didn't know anyone yet and was too afraid to speak. The only points I got were the ones for paying attention and being prepared. So, needless to say, I failed. I got an A in the course, but that was because I learned to push myself. I'm not saying there shouldn't be public speaking activities, but why so much pressure on getting kids out of their "shell"?
- Society. People make being introverted or shy (which I know are two different things) seem like bad traits, often telling us to "get out of our shells" and the like. As a young child, I was constantly reminded of how shy I was to the point where I decided to force extroversion upon myself. While I can act that way and I am pretty outgoing now, that's not who I am. I prefer to spend my weekends alone, reading a book instead of partying. Yet people comment on my social life (or lack thereof), because I am expected to be an extrovert in this society. What is so wrong about the way I am?
- Church. As someone who has been at a Pentecostal church since kindergarten (I was dedicated at a Baptist church and spent two years at a non-denominational one), I can say that the entire A/G denomination (at the very least, if not most Christian churches) is run by extroverts, or introverts like me who have adapted to extroversion. I am often self-conscious during worship, especially when altar calls happen, and raising hands. I don't lift my hands when I worship. I don't pray super loud (or out loud at all for that matter). Yet, once again, those are turned into negative qualities in the Pentecostal church, using phrases like "get out of your comfort zone," and "give it your all." Excuse you, but just because I'm not attracting attention to myself does not mean I'm any less passionate than you are. I think it's rude when people make assumptions about my relationship with God simply because I appear distant at worship sometimes. It's not that I'm not trying, but I'm not going to force something that just isn't who I am, because in reality, that's even worse than standing with hands in my pockets.
- Small talk. If I don't know you well, I'm not going to strike up a conversation about autumn leaves. If we're going to talk, we're going to have a reason. So please, enough with the forced conversations. Sometimes, all anyone needs is some quiet time. I will admit, sometimes I violate this rule. But do as I say, not as I do.
- Interests. When I was younger, between the ages of 4 and 12, I would be a little scared to talk about the things that interested me unless we were friends. Because I spent an unusual amount of time reading and researching in elementary school, if someone were to ask a question, I usually knew the answer, but would be afraid to speak up and would wait for someone else to do so. And when I finally did get excited about something and started talking, I would either be shut down ("no one cares," "shut up," "that's stupid") or ignored. I guess this is more of a shy person problem than anything.
- Building relationships. Some introverts can do this with ease, but for some reason, it takes a much longer time for me to build close friendships. I can be acquainted with multiple people, but only close with a few. Even worse? It's really easy to tell when I'm uncomfortable. Just attend a wedding or party with me and you'll see me fidgeting with my jewelry or staring into the distance. Again, I guess this a result of being shy.
- Being misunderstood. People think that I can't be introverted because I'm somewhat outgoing. Or, they think because I'm an introvert it automatically means I'll be rude or anxious.
- Apologizing. Sometimes, I feel the need to apologize for who I am. Like, I'm sorry I don't like to talk in the car, and I know it's kind of rude. I'm sorry I'd rather be alone than at a social gathering. It has nothing to do with you, and it's not that I don't like you. It's so hard to explain.
- Opening up. I recently e-mailed two of my poems to a friend, and explained to her that she is basically the only friend I have allowed to read my poetry. Honestly, I thought she would hate my poems and I would regret sending them. Mostly, though, it was that I was showing her a part of me few have seen before, and I didn't know how she'd take it. She liked the poems and it was easy explaining the meanings, but it was pretty courageous.
- Exhaustion. Like how extroverts gain energy from social activity, we gain it from solitude. Unfortunately, it's difficult to set aside some alone time-- even sleeping is often put off. And I know tonight it definitely will be since I haven't started my homework or my campaign. Parties throw off my entire week. Don't get me wrong, I like them, but long events exhaust me (don't they exhaust everyone?).
And, in spite of all these things, in a way, I still love being an introvert.
It's who I am, and it's nothing to apologize for. It's something to be proud of!
Say it loud: I'M AN INTROVERT AND I'M PROUD!