Monday, November 10, 2008

On Fast Turtles and Friendly Introverts

Since coming out as an unabashed introvert, I've fielded a raised eyebrow or two by a few people that know me socially from writing conferences. They seem surprised by this. “But you're so friendly!" Or, “Geez, you don't seem one bit shy!" And I must admit that when I first met Robin in an Adult Ed class, she didn't seem like an introvert to me. I was guessing she was a major E. She was talkative, friendly and even raised her hand in class the very first night! I was impressed.

Some introverts can be quiet, reticent, withdrawn, and some introverts may be talkative, outgoing and the first to cut up at a party. Or, one may be all those things! Just as I feel certain that there are extroverts who enjoy solitude and silent contemplation. We can be very "bi".

Intros and extros are functional, adaptive beings. Jungian type is a preference that shows itself early on, like right-handedness or left-handedness. But, it doesn't mean that we are completely limited to one style or the other. If I broke my right hand, you can bet dollars to doughuts I'd teach my left hand how to open a diet coke and work my eyeliIner pencil. (Though I might look scary for a while, and trust you all would be too polite to mention it.)

In a social setting, I may be Miss Chatty Pants USA. And, I won't be faking! I like people and I'm curious about them. I enjoy asking questions-- I'm a writer! That said, if I wore a visible battery charge device, at a large gathering you could watch my meter go from five bars to one to “Battery Low” to “Danger! Code Blue!” Much like Cinderella, I need to be home by midnight, or I will end up on the dance floor in the fetal position sucking the toe of my glass slipper.

The true test of introversion is-- what? C'mon, everybody, now! It is in how one gathers their energy. When spent, how do you charge back up? Do you go inside of yourself, or do you look to others to plug in? And this isn't something you can easily observe in others with just casual contact. You have to get to know them.

So, can turtles ride skateboards? You bet! Now and then it feels good to get out there and stick your neck out. But, when we've sailed some rail and blown our wad, for us, at the end of the day-- it feels best to just find a quiet corner and tuck in for a spell.

Your shy and friendly friend,

Mary Hershey

Originally posted April 2007


tanita✿davis said...

This is a good reminder -- and for some introverts, their "bi"-ness really comes and goes. They may not have wanted to go to the party, but for twenty minutes in the middle, once they've met everyone, they're animated. And then, they take a back seat, listen and smile, and leave early. It happens. It's just best not to try and figure out what other people are; that "but you're so friendly," or "You're not really shy," is actually a judgment that we could all do without.

Miriam Forster said...

I've actually had arguments with new friends, trying to convince them that I'm an introvert. They don't believe me, and then I go into turtle mode, and they say, "Hey, why didn't you call me back, yesterday?"

Because I didn't want to talk to people yesterday. Because I'm an introvert.

Sigh. No one at work believes I'm an introvert either.

Anonymous said...

Oh, thank God for you people. So "bi"-ness in an introvert turns out NOT to equate to a need for medication... yippee, the slight possibility that I am normal! Thank you, thank you, thank you. And yes, I'm posting as Anon. It's only the second date, after all.

Cheryl Reif said...

Oh, you made me laugh! Next time I'm high-energy at a party and people say, "What, you're an introver? No way!" I'll tell them about your skateboarding turtle. :) Cheryl

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

funny. I have same issue especially at conferences. At the end of the day, I want to run to my room and snuggle up with a good book (maybe someday it will be my own!_ thanks for the great advice.

Mary Hershey said...

Hi, Tadmack, Miriam, Anon, Cheryl and Shelli,

Great to hear from all of you. Too funny about "only the second date" Anonymous. :->

I do love thinking about all the introverts dashing to their rooms at conferences to re-charge!

Mary Hershey

Anonymous said...

Off-topic: I was just wondering about the feedback from the Writing Blurb "challenge" from your Oct 30 post. I never heard back from anyone and I'm still interested in a critique. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Never mind. I went back and looked. Thanks for the suggestions, Robin.

In regards to this post, I think it really depends on the situation. Truth be told, I've probably come out of my shell more now that I'm a little older, but when I was younger, I was really shy. I had a lisp (that was gone by the time I reached middle school) and a slight stutter (which I still have).

Conferences still kinda throw me off though. Especially when I'm going by myself. I tend to keep to myself unless someone sits at my table. LOL

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of us introverts get more comfortable in our own skin as we get older. I know I have. This may be why, when we tell people we used to be shy, we get stared at! Plus, we get to build the world around us in which we ARE most happy, so we relax a bit more? It's very hard for a kid to get the recharge time they need, with everybody around them being more in control of what's happening, and when, then they are.