25 Feb 2018

Remember an Introvert has Feelings Also

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When I was young, I was a happy, go lucky child. I happily explored the world, or at least the part of it on the block where I lived, since my mom wouldn’t let me cross the street. I had friends and felt no fear. When I was six years old, something happened, which I’m not going to get into here, that caused me to slowly introvert and by the time I was in high school, I could barely confront other people. I became one of the introverts, one of those people who doesn’t like being in crowds or socializing.

Books became my friends, and I distanced myself from people. My hobbies reinforced my introversion. I collected stamps – and you can’t get much more introverted than that. I built model railroads, fighter jets, tanks, and soldiers. I created an incredible collection of rocks, minerals and crystals, and also collected bottle caps, little bits of colored glass and wire,  magazines and comic books.

School was a nightmare, because school demands that students be extroverts. You’re expected to join associations, take part in team sports, and socialize with others regularly. I loved to learn, reading every book that I could about science, history, philosophy, and other subjects. I also enjoyed fiction, especially epic fantasy, science fiction, and military stories.

That made me somewhat of an outcast, which reinforced my introversion even more. Some of the students tried to get me to come to parties, but I refused. The few times that I went I was miserable partially because of the peer pressure to smoke, drink, and use drugs, and partially because the crowds of people cause me to be depressed and unhappy.

Society doesn’t really understand introverts.

That’s the rough thing about being an introvert. Other people, for the most part, don’t understand. In fact, introversion is often viewed as being antisocial. After all, introverts are not out there in the world milling around in social groups, shaking hands, talking with people, lecturing, performing and so forth. So there must be something wrong with them, right?

Introvert Vs Extrovert

There are some basic differences between introverts and extroverts.

  • An extrovert gains energy from people; an introvert feels drained of energy by crowds of people.
  • Introverts tend to think and have internal conversations, while extroverts tend to verbalize and talk to people.
  • Extroverts act on minimal knowledge and introverts think before acting.
  • Introverts appear to be reserved and extroverts head for the spotlight.
  • Extroverts love being among crowds. Introverts focus more on one-on-one situations.

How I Began To Become An Extrovert

When my wife passed away in 2005, my life began to change. Grief is not a friend, and the psychologists who claim that you should “come to terms with your grief” and “embrace your grief” are insane. Grief is not something you should invite home for tea; instead, grief needs to be ejected as quickly as possible. Grief is close to death, and those who grieve for very long, are more prone to suicide, accidents, mistakes, depression, and other mental problems.

I’m talking about grief as a state of being and not a momentary feeling of a few hours or even days. Of course, when someone close passes away or leaves it is perfectly natural to feel grief for time. However, that time must be limited for sanity’s sake.

When Claudia passed away, I realized I was in danger of going into a permanent state of grief. In my mind,  that was unacceptable.

My tendency was to introvert, to pull inside myself, examine my feelings, come to terms with what was going on. That was exactly the wrong thing to be doing during a time of grief. Fortunately I was smart enough to figure that out.

I decided to take my camera and get out into the world. At first, I went out into nature, to all the national, state and local parks in the area and eventually throughout the Southwest United States. I traveled everywhere, putting over 100,000 miles on my car in a single year. I took tens of thousands of photos, and just getting out and being in nature helped with the grief immensely.

I began taking photos at the Renaissance Festival’s, and ran into belly dancers. Before long I became a fixture at festivals of all types throughout California and belly dance shows all over the western United States.

You might think that hanging out with performers and dancers, and being involved in festivals and dance shows, would drive an introvert nuts. After all, most of those events consisted of crowds of people jammed together in small spaces.

But I’d found a way to get around my introverted tendencies, and that was to use the camera as a shield. Thus, I was still introverted, but I was able to extrovert by photographing people, scenery, and performances.

I slowly learned how to tolerate being surrounded by crowds of people.

Just a couple of years ago, I confronted public speaking. I’ve never been able to get up on stage to speak, or even to show myself. I joined Toastmasters, which is a public speaking organization, and several networking groups and got up on stage and started speaking about subjects close to my heart. Now I don’t have any trouble speaking on podcasts, radio shows, and even in public on the stage.

I’ve come a long way since the days of grade and high school, when I couldn’t handle the crowds of people and the constant pressure to socialize with everyone under the sun.

Understand that I’m still an introvert. I’m a computer expert and a professional writer. I collect rocks and crystals, have over 400 audiobooks and several thousand paperbacks and hardcovers, and have read most of them. I own a movie collection with over a thousand DVDs and Blu-rays.

Yeah, I’m an introvert, but I’m also an extrovert. I look for excuses to avoid going out and being with other people in a crowd, but I now find that once I get there, I have a good time. Sure, the crowds still drain me of energy, but that’s okay.. I discovered that the way to get around that is to mill around an event, find people to talk with and have conversations. As long as I am conversing and socializing, everything is fine. However, sitting in a room and watching a show or listening to somebody speak is extremely draining and depressing for me.

Just remember, when you run into an introvert, there’s nothing wrong. They’re not being antisocial. They are probably enjoying being around you, and having a conversation with you. They’re just introverts, and they are perfectly content to soak up what’s going on around them without constantly talking about it or getting up on stage and being the center of attention.

How do you deal with an introvert? Invite them along to social events, and encourage them to socialize with other people one-on-one by introducing them to others they may like. Once an introvert finds a person to talk to, or a small group to be part of, they become alive and you will find their company to be invigorating.

Are you an introvert or extrovert? What are your experiences in this area? Let’s discuss in the comments.

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I can relate somewhat. I’m not a total introvert, but, to quote a phrase I read once, “I work well with people but would prefer not to.” I guess that’s why I’m okay spending my days writing and editing

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