Introverts-Powered by a Different Fuel!

What is it about introversion that makes us so uncomfortable? It’s a question I haven’t been able to answer convincingly! Let me tell you a little about myself – most of my friends would say that I’m a ‘people’s person’-I’m chatty, funny even! In a crowd, I’m likely to be the one having a very lively chat with one or more people. I enjoy engaging with people- it’s never filled me with dread or apprehension. I entertain at home and we’re invited out a fair bit! But, on every single personality test I’ve done, I’ve unfailingly been identified as an introvert (though even some of my closest friends would rather believe that the earth is flat, and inhabited by winged horses in pink tutus who jump through hoops of candy!) What qualifies me as one is that for every day I spend with people, I need three with myself. I value silence, I enjoy solitude, I can go long periods of time without speaking to anyone and I don’t need social interaction as much as some people might! Introverts aren’t people who hide in secluded corners, convulsing with fear that they’ll be asked to interact or craving to be part of a crowd that they’re just too fearful to approach!

My daughter Rahel has always been a quiet girl. She went through nursery – the entire year, speaking three words ” I need the toilet” to her teachers. As a parent, that filled me with dread and I went through every listed syndrome trying to make sense of why she won’t incessantly chat about fairies and dolls and giggle excitedly with her friends at the sandpit, like every other ‘normal’ child! Every playdate I organised for her was a playdate for me, and for my younger daughter who is the complete opposite of Rahel. We had to keep our little guest busy and entertained because Rahel would not talk, well not much anyway, she preferred to be read to or play on her LeapPad, all the while enjoying the fact that she had company! She’d dress-up in costume and play with her dolls, but quietly, speaking infrequently – not something a lot of  extroverted children associate with a ‘fun’ companion. We ran around in circles wondering what we could do to make her more out-going, personable, gregarious…an extrovert! Why we viewed it as our personal failing that she wasn’t? I’m not sure other than the fact that that’s what parents do, every success and every failure is our doing, the great legacy of parenting :)!

I wasn’t alone in what I felt as I came across scores of parents who were researching the same things, plagued by the same insecurities of how to make space in this world for our little angels who just seemed powered by a different fuel!

Introversion, quiet child, quiet confidence, happiness

Living in a culture that views silence, thoughtfulness – a quiet personality as a sign of inherent weakness might be where I foremost assign blame. The idea that introverted people are underconfident, even though that premise couldn’t be further from the truth; viewing introversion synonymously with an anxiety-ridden shyness where a person feels sickeningly trapped in a mind that longs for social interaction but is incapacited to reach for it, is another tragic blow to those who don’t feel the need put themselves “out there” immediately!

I was speaking with one of my friends recently after Rahel won a Math competition about why are people naturally attracted to and choose to hang out with extroverts? Is it because extroverted people always seem to have something to talk about? He came up with a answer that made me laugh…like so many things nowadays, it went back to our times of being hunter-gatherers (I’m seriously resisiting the urge to use #paleo anywhere here or related to this post :)) The survival of nomadic man depended on his being hyper-focused, hyper-attentive and being able to communicate to a large number of people at most times. Being a beta-male, or what we can extrapolate to being introverted, meant death. The ‘leaders’ were those who were vivacious men – party animals and backslappers, the sort who stand at the bar, ensconced within the chatter of other mixers and pub crawlers! 😀 But not much seems to have been said of the thinkers, the great creators –  the artists, the scientists, the inventors who brought us into civilization. That small group who need a little bit of silence in a constantly chiming world! Research however shows that the approximately 30% of introverts that we have in our population may probably wind up a whole lot more successful than everyone else and are a whole lot happier than we assume they are :) <Try Googling  ‘List of Successful Introverts’>

Introversion, quiet child, quiet confidence, happiness

Any parent like me, who’s had to deal with the stereotyping finds it frustrating that their child is viewed as being a silent sufferer! What people fail to see is that there is a marked and fundamental difference between a crippling fear of social judgment and just finding overstimulation exhausting and choosing to be alone or in the company of a select few people.
I can see Rahel’s neural circuits thrive in the company of a few friends, a good read, time where she’s been allowed to choose what she wants to do! She loves ballet and gives it her all…when I got a letter from her previous dance school saying that she was identified as a ‘gifted’ dancer, I couldn’t believe my eyes or the fact that she had been noticed at all! I held back the tears as I watched her first performance in front of about 50 parents, where she showed me her quiet confidence. Being her mother, I’ve learned that the same thirst for solitude can bring with it an ability to focus for long periods of time. I’ve learned that a margin of  introversion is necessary to becoming a great musician or scientist or businessperson. Again, research indicates that introverts listen better, they assess risks more carefully, they can be wiser managers. Our children have so much to offer not despite their introversion, but because of it!

Introversion, quiet child, quiet confidence, happiness

Writer Susan Cain said on Ted Talks that it’s an oversimplification to divide people into slots as definitive as “extroverts and introverts” as we’re all a mixture of both elements or ambiverts.  Both Rahel and I fluctuate between the spectrums of introversion, she being the truer representative of it than I.  Though she is no longer as “anti-social” as she was as a pre-schooler, I do think she seems to get her conviviality and energy from from quiet time and contemplation. More power to her, I say!

I’ve always believed that the uniqueness and beauty of the human race is our diversity of personality….something that our current world of social-connectivity-overload is slowly beginning to threaten. Our school models, our extra-curriculars, are all so focused on the extroverts that we’re beaten into a cookie-cutter mould of interaction, leaving less space for the individualism we all crave. I’m not trying to change the world, I know I can’t and I understand why the focus is so… I only wish to hold up a mirror to society highlighting the different sorts of people there are, it’s our collective strengths that define our success.

Two years ago, I, like parents before me, resigned myself to believing that my child was never going to be the life of any party, that they’re condemned to the life of a wallflower at best, but how steadily Rahel proved me wrong.  From going from strength to strength in her academics and extra-curriculars and just being the ever-happy 7 year-old she is (with a fair few best-friends-forever in tow)- I’d say that she and her sort are comfortably the very soul of it!

If you liked what you read, could you please nominate me for writer, fresh voice or photo over at BritMums , many thanks! :)

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Comments

  1. says

    Hello Kanchan, I just found you through google + and I am loving the first post I have read from your site. I did glance through at some of your food and recipes, so I going to take more time :)
    Introverts are very smart people {I have no doubt} and most likely even more kind that the extroverts. I am a people person myself and love to start conversation, although sitting back and just listening and talking it all in would be nice. Our son is an introvert {and brilliant in school and numbers}. Your photos are beautiful, I am looking forward to reading more :)

  2. Intrepid Misadventurer says

    Hi Linda and thanks for stopping by! I’m so glad the post resonated with you as I feel this affects us in varying degrees, and being different is the spice of living. I just feel that the balance seems to tip in favour of extroverts and personally, I’ve been able to ride that wave quite successfully, but find my daughter is a bit more contemplative than me! Thank you for having enjoyed what you saw, I’ll have to pop over and see what you write about :) Looking forward to staying connected. x

  3. says

    I’m an introvert and can see the same qualities in my daughter. I’m not shy or particularly quiet, I just enjoy my own space and time spent reading books. I’m never going to be the life and soul of a party but I have close friends and enjoy my life! Being an introvert is no bad thing.

  4. Intrepid Misadventurer says

    It certainly isn’t, christine and I’ve come to appreciate it’s little nuances in a very special way! My younger daughter is all the way over at the other extreme…so sometimes I take refuge in Rahel’s contained world! :)

  5. Ophelia says

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading this Kanch,clearly giving a voice to the voiceless amidst the noise pollutants,I mean the extroverts

  6. Intrepid Misadventurer says

    Thanks for stopping by Ophie… you can understand why this means so much to me :) x

  7. says

    What a lovely post, you write beautifully and your photos are gorgeous. Your daughter will adore reading back on this when she’s older, what a lucky child she is to have such a mum.

  8. says

    Beautiful photo’s and a beautifully written post. Very touching. She will love looking back on this when she’s older #LAB club

  9. says

    A lovely post with gorgeous photos. You are so right that it is far too easy to typecast children whereas in fact we all tend to be an amalgam of different personality traits. I personally think it is a great strength to be self reliant and love the fact that my children equally enjoy socialising with others and having quiet time at home. As you say, they are able to reap maximum benefit from both states.

  10. says

    Interesting post. My daughter has always been more of a listener than a talker and I think it’s a great quality to have.

  11. Intrepid Misadventurer says

    Thanks all of you for stopping by! :) I couldn’t have had more different children if I tried and everyday, I learn something from both! I celebrate our differences, life is so much more interesting because of our uniqueness! xx

  12. says

    Great post. I think I’m a balance of the two, as are my kids, which I think makes it easier as we don’t get judged neither way. I hate silence and hate spending time on my own but at the same time im usually one of the quieter ones in a crowd. If we were all the same, life would be very boring!

  13. says

    I love the term Ambivert :) I’m more of an introvert, atlhough I’m fine around friends. My children are all different, but I don’t really have any extroverts, some are just more chattier and friendlier and some shyer (that makes me sound like I have hundreds of children, but I really only have five.)
    Your daughter is really beautiful, I’m glad she’s found her way to be, she sounds well rounded to me.

  14. Intrepid Misadventurer says

    No one’s a true representative, we all vary :) There are times I can talk for a country, and oftentimes, I grunt and talk in monosyllables ;P We do make life more interesting tho’, Rachel and Anne! Thanks for the compliment, Anne.. I tried to make the pics convey her personality! xx

  15. says

    I was very shy and introverted as a girl out in public–not at home. Now I am not at all, but I don’t mind being by myself, and I still would not be considered the life of the party. However, it is okay to be introverted as she is also confident and capable. God makes us a certain way for a certain purpose. Thanks for linking up with the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Party. I have pinned your post to the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Board!

  16. says

    Really interesting post. I’m also an introvert, but because I’m really chatty (although rubbish at small talk and networking) people don’t necessarily realise which can be hard. But there’s a lot in the media recently with books launched about the power of introverts, that there’s more understanding now.

    Really beautiful photos of your daughter too
    #LAB

  17. Intrepid Misadventurer says

    Thanks ladies…all of us sure have our own place in this world and have something beautiful and unique to offer! :) Thank you for stopping by! xx

  18. says

    I think the word introvert has been vastly misdescribed. It conjures up someone mousy and timid when nothing could be further from the truth in my case.
    Stunning photos too, she’s beautiful. Would love you to add to my Expressions linky if you’d like to?

  19. says

    Rather than introvert, I would imagine that your daughter is a thoughtful and reflective soul. I bet she is the creative type who will be very observant of the world around her. A really beautiful post lovely lady – you did your daughter proud. Thank you for linking to PoCoLo :) x

  20. says

    Thanks for linking this thoughtful, vital post to #brilliantblogposts I watched that Ted talk and it was fascinating. I’m naturally out-going but I too need time out and people would misunderstand that for being moody-always baffled me but I suppose going from the life and soul to being more quiet, shocked people. Beautiful pictures of your daughter and it’s wonderful to watch them grow and constantly change x

  21. says

    What a wonderful post. My son is very much like me in that he likes quiet and solitary activities at times. He does play boisterously at times but often he responds better if he is 1:1 and doing something he loves to do. Preschool have mentioned that he doesn’t always mix when groups are larger than 2-3 more children and one teacher has even suggested he needs more rough play. I am not happy to try and change his personality as that is what makes him him! And I also know that he is happy as he is, and that is more than good enough for me.
    x x
    #BrilliantBlogPosts

  22. says

    Wow, this is a powerful post. Even without the words it is beautiful – your daughter is stunning. With the words though, pours out how incredible your bond is. We really must get away from trying to pidgeon-hole people as either introverts or extroverts. I’m a person that can be as loud as you like in a large group but seize up in small circles. I’m really trying with all 3 of my girls to allow them to be who they are and who they are happy being. x

  23. says

    What a fantastic post. I think we have a fear of our children not fitting in and having friends etc. It’s a battle I fight everyday as my boy was born to be different and it breaks my heart that he is different and doesn’t fit in but he is happy and that is what is important. I’m a lot like you, I don’t mind being social, at times I quite enjoy it but I need so time to collect myself after. Your little girl sounds amazing and it sounds like she is well and truly going to make her mark in the world.

    Thanks for linking up with Small Steps Amazing Achievements :0)
    x

  24. Intrepid Misadventurer says

    I’m totally overwhelmed with the response this post has had! For one, feels really affirming to know I’m not alone in feeling what I do…and as a result of that, the world just got a whole lot friendlier! Being a parent is the most precarious thing ever, trying to figure out where to draw the lines, learning to read between them and make split-second decisions that could impact a whole lifetime…phew! It’s glad we don’t really ‘know’ these things before we go ahead and become parents – no one would feel up to the job! We can only try…and hope that our love and genuineness pave the way to erasing all the mistakes we make! :) What a mind-blowingly beautiful journey it is, despite it all :). Thank you for your lovely words and all the time spent reading what I’ve had to say :) .xxx

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