Growing Up Introvert

Talk Shows On Mute by Katie TegtmeyerImage Credit

Introversion is “the state of or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one’s own mental life”.  Some popular writers have characterized introverts as people whose energy tends to expand through reflection and dwindle during interaction.

The common modern perception is that introverts tend to be more reserved and less outspoken in groups. They often take pleasure in solitary activities such as reading, writing, using computers, hiking and fishing. The archetypal artist, writer, sculptor, engineer, composer and inventor are all highly introverted. An introvert is likely to enjoy time spent alone and find less reward in time spent with large groups of people, though he or she may enjoy interactions with close friends. Trust is usually an issue of significance: a virtue of utmost importance to an introvert is choosing a worthy companion. They prefer to concentrate on a single activity at a time and like to observe situations before they participate, especially observed in developing children and adolescents.  They are more analytical before speaking.  Introverts are easily overwhelmed by too much stimulation from social gatherings and engagement, introversion having even been defined by some in terms of a preference for a quiet, more minimally stimulating environment.  –Wikipedia

Ever since I was a child, I was always very much of an introvert.  Introverted to the point where one might have caught a glimpse of my likeness by looking up the word introversion in the dictionary.

Ever since I can remember, I have always kept detailed written notes on whatever interested me at any given moment.  In more recent times, I have started to incorporate photography into my documentary efforts.  90% of what I experience in life mulls around within the confines of my own meandering existence, the remaining 10% gets posted here for the world to see.  As an introvert, the overwhelming majority of conversation and reflection goes on internally.

Thomas Slatin - Fisheye Ceiling Mirror

I clearly remember as a child, eating dinner in front of the television watching documentaries on NOVA or the BBC.  Before the days of cable television, we would all sit around the dinner table taking turns reading passages from various books.  Sure, there was the traditional conversation about what was going on in our lives, but the focus was generally more based upon intellectual pursuits.  Looking back on it, I wouldn’t have it any other way.When I was in school, I had very specific, very focused interests.  Accordingly, if a particular subject in school didn’t match my interest pattern, it was extremely difficult, if not impossible for me to learn it.  However, if the topic or discussion matched my interest pattern, I found that I couldn’t help myself but to learn all that I possibly could about the topic.  Although often overlooked in the modern educational system, I have found an enormous amount of documentation to support my claim in the genre of psychology.

While in high school, my senior year science teacher hated me because a handful of my other classes were independent study (I have found that I learn best from independent study).  My father was a career scientist with a PhD in atomic engineering.  One of the most satisfying moments in high school was watching my father stand up in front of the class during parents weekend, after being invited to do so by the teacher, who had asked for his expert opinion on the topic of chemistry.  Instead of supporting the lesson plans my teacher had talked about, my father decided to point out how completely full of shit my teacher was and then proceeded to tell the class about the scientific method.

Parties are the absolute worst for me.  As a child, I would get sucked into social situation such as school dances, and parties with my friends, only to be one of perhaps a small handful of people who were more seated around the perimeter who were more interested in reading books, taking notes, and having intelligent and intimate one-on-one conversations.  This seemingly anti-social personality I was blessed with made me quite unpopular, but popularity is just one of the many things that fails to be of any concern to introverts like me.

The small talk of everyday life to me is a form of distraction, and a barrier to what I feel to be of utmost importance; reflection, problem-solving, and the fleeting glimpses of wisdom and knowledge offered in everyday life, of which most people generally ignore or choose to overlook.  As far as I’m concerned, unless you have something truly interesting to talk to me about, please don’t bore me with your small talk.

Telephones are more of an annoyance than a communication tool.  I have a cell phone, but I use the data and social media capabilities much more than the traditional telephone conversations it was designed to do.  I prefer not to be bothered while I’m working, and I work all the time.  And by work, I am speaking generally of my writing, thinking, and journaling, or various forms of creating.  Whenever a phone rings, it totally disrupts my train of thought and whatever ideas I had floating around in my head immediately dissipate.  I have asked many friends to communicate via email with me as much as possible for this reason.

For introverts like me, the ideal form of communication is writing.  Coming from someone who excelled in honors English class in high school, wrote their own website content by age 16, then went on to get their poetry published by age 18, this should come as absolutely no surprise. When I write, I feel as if I can be extremely articulate, concise, and to-the-point; when I am speaking, especially in large groups of people, I get distracted and have trouble saying what I am trying to explain.

Extroverts, such as all of my childhood friends, written communication is seen as too slow, time consuming, and unnecessary, especially when we have tools like cell phones, and video conferencing.  For this reason, I closed my Facebook account and hardly ever answer my phone while I’m working, which led many of my friends to wonder what happened to me.

Lastly, whenever someone asks me a question, I generally take a few moments to think about it before I answer.  Recently, someone asked me a question about my first career in healthcare, but when I answered their question, they cut me off halfway through my explanation.  It’s little things like this that I consider to be exceptionally rude and irritating.  Other times, someone will ask me a question and expect an answer immediately; it’s the hallmark of an extrovert to expect an answer that’s quick and not thought about in depth.

Want more information on introversion?  I suggest you read these books:

The Highly Sensitive Person, The Introvert Advantage: Making the Most of Your Inner Strengths, The Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership, Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength, The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World, and Insight: Reflections on the Gifts of Being an Introvert.


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