Am I Shy? Well, not exactly…

Am I shy? Not really. But, I feel weird meeting new people and will avoid it if I can. If I can’t, I’ll put on a brave face and do OK. It isn’t that I don’t like people, I like them very much in well-measured doses. It’s that I’m an introvert. I worked hard to overcome a lot of this stuff because I saw when I was in junior high school that it was going to make my life difficult. Like a lot of other people I had the misapprehension that introversion meant not liking people.

Introversion simply means that too much social contact wears us out. Extraverts GET energized from social interaction, introverts don’t. That was a small epiphany for me. It explained the paradox of why — even as a kid – I WANTED to be invited to parties but I didn’t actually want to GO.

While I was teaching business communication, and constantly looking for engaging projects for my students that would simulate the real world and teach them something in the present moment at the same time, I began to learn what it really means to be an introvert. Here’s a good article with nice pictures on the subject. This article didn’t exist when I was teaching, but I would have used it. Since most of the business majors I taught were, naturally, pronounced extraverts, I had to learn how to deal with them en masse. I hope they learned as much from me as I did from them.

I do introvert things. I write. I paint. I walk alone with my dogs. I hang out by myself — a lot — and always have, and when I was a kid, and my mom opened my bedroom door and told me to come out and join the family, I felt violated. I need a LOT of time alone. Stuff I do? Extravert friends say, “How do you have the patience to write a novel? I wish I could draw like you.” It’s not about patience, discipline or skill. I think it’s about being content to be alone working on something FOR A LONG TIME. I very, very, very seldom get the urge to hang out with other people, but I enjoy it a lot when I do. Extraverts often don’t feel that anything is going on if they are alone. Introverts can feel that MOST of life’s important things happen when they’re alone.

I can’t say that introversion had any really BIG benefits until this year. Most of the time, in normal reality, extraverts run the world. Their expectations and preferences define normal. Oddly, a couple of years ago I noticed that an “Introvert Movement” was afoot — quietly, on tip-toe. Really. I laughed because I could imagine that 1) the meetings would be very brief and, 2) only one or two people at a time would show up for demonstrations. But, if you read the linked article — which is an interview — you will hear a classic, non-confrontational introvert voice “asserting” itself. It’s kind of, “Uh, excuse me, please, I don’t want to hurt your feelings or anything, but the thing is — and please understand there’s nothing wrong with you. Being an extravert is awesome. No, really, some of my best friends are extraverts, but introverts have things to contribute, too. What? No. I’m not shy, that isn’t it at all, I just, oh, well, look at the time.”

23 thoughts on “Am I Shy? Well, not exactly…

  1. Well now I don’t have to write it down; thank ya for this most revelatory and elucidating article! Fits me like a glove 🥊 too! Introverts Humbug Alas🙏🐕♒️🥳🤬😡😆🕺💃💪✅

  2. During this pandemic, I truly feel in my element – my life has changed very little – with the exception of meeting up with a friend occasionally. Good post.

  3. LOL! People don’t have a choice in the matter.

    Most people are extroverts and think that if only you’d “choose” to be more social, well then you’d find happiness and bliss and your “problem” would go away. I never felt I had an introversion “problem” but it sure felt like everyone else thought so.

    To this day my wife gets angry because I often prefer to be alone over socializing. I do socialize on occasion but it is with small groups of people with a common interest, not random strangers and half-strangers.

  4. Have you ever taken one of the Myers-Briggs personality tests? Introvert/Extrovert is one of the variables. It is really fascinating. I took the test about 10 years ago and it did make sense to me. Shy is not the same. I don’t like walking into a group of people I don’t know, whereas many of my other friends and family are fine with it. It feels very uncomfortable and awkward. Nice to realize it’s not a character flaw.

    • Yes, the Myers/Briggs was one of the tools I used in my Bus Comm classes because the test is pretty common in both hiring and team building. I’m usually INFJ but. not too strong on the J. It can flip to P depending on what’s going on. During grading periods I was always J. Now I’m most often P. Most of my students were the complete opposite of me. It was very useful for me to know that because I just thought they were over-the-top rude a lot of the time but I could give them what they gave me and it was totally cool with them. I learned a lot about communication when I was teaching it!

      • What an appropriate class for the test. Hopefully the kids were open to that kind of “look at self.” Interestingly I also tested as INFJ…at the time. Who knows how I’d score now as my older and battle weary self. Eh..probably close.

  5. I’m an introvert but had to “put myself out there” to teach. Causes a lot of stress but I got used to it. I haven’t really felt any different with the pandemic but I have friends and relative who are social butterflies who have really struggled. I too took the Myers-Briggs and tested as an INFJ! I’ve taken several other assessments and they all are pretty spot on… Why are so many on WP in this category? I thought is was one of those 1-3% groups…

    • This is a blog written by an INFJ. Since few people write blogs, and few of us are INFJ, it only makes sense that it might resonate with other INFJs. I think we’re a self-selected group. 🙂

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