John: It is a Saturday afternoon around 3;30pm. It is raining here in NC. The house is quiet. My wife and dog are upstairs taking a nap. You can literally hear a pin drop in here. It is bliss. The sounds of silence. I don’t know when I got so introverted. Let me take that back – yes I do, I grew up introverted. Some of my distinct, fondest memories are of me sitting alone on the floor in my bedroom listening to the radio, or playing, or reading. I didn’t need anyone then for fulfillment. I don’t think I do even now. Which is why it was so funny for me to worry about what people thought for so many years. If you give me a radio, or a notepad, or a game of Strat, I’m good for 6-7 hours. As Susan Cain said, in her book, Quite, “solitude matters, and for some people, it’s the air they breathe.” We live in a culture that celebrates extroversion and sees introversion as a weakness or something to overcome. If you’re an introvert, you may have grown up believing there was something wrong with you. You may not even have realized there’s a word for your personality type, that 26 to 50 percent of the population falls under that umbrella, and that our brains are actually wired differently than extroverts’ brains. But they are, and that is okay. To me, I’m never lonely. I love, love, love the time I spend alone (or just with my immediate family). It feeds my soul.
Sandy – are you introverted or extroverted and what do you tell introverts who are looking to find their place?
Sandy: This is such a great topic John, and I can completely relate to your enjoyment of the sounds of silence, because I am also an introvert. When I was a child they used to call me “shy”. I didn’t know how to relate to people, and really didn’t want to because I always ended up feeling exhausted.
I now know that being either an introvert or extrovert is just fine. What it means is that extroverts get their energy and are rejuvenated by being around people, while introverts are drained by being around lots of people, and are rejuvenated and energized by alone time. Yes, our brains are “wired differently”, it’s how we are born, and it’s all OK.
The important thing is for each person to understand how he or she functions, and then make time to meet his or her energy needs. If you are an extrovert you probably want to connect with people sometime during each day. If you are an introvert you want to have as much alone time as possible to re-energize.
Of course, this doesn’t mean becoming a hermit. Over the years I’ve learned to enjoy spending time with groups of people, but I know when it’s time for me to re-energize by taking a solitary walk or sitting and listening to music.
Introverts are usually friendly and nice people, just as extroverts are. They might need to push themselves a bit to get out into the world, but when they do they have a good time.
Even though introverts enjoy solitude we can still be quite friendly, outgoing, energetic and have a great time with others. I believe it’s all about finding a balance and loving and appreciating yourself just as you are.
Please comment so others can benefit from your wisdom and experience.
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