I’m Not Shy

I’m an introvert.

Gosh, I hate the sound of that. Not because being an introvert is a negative (though, generally it’s considered one), but because it sounds like I am something less than human.

I’m a person who happens to thrive in quiet spaces.

Contrary to Dictionary.com, I’m not shy. Susan Cain, author of, Quiet, says, “Shyness is fear of social judgment. Introversion is more about how you respond to stimulation, including social stimulation.” Learning the distinction between the two is repairing the way I recognize myself.

“She’s shy,” they’d say, because I wasn’t talking. I accepted that. Owned it. OK, I’m shy! I guess I know what I am now. I had an excuse for my failure to find words. That’s not to say I didn’t have fears. Oh, I had plenty of those. Or that I’ve never worried over any sort of social judgement. I have. But, I’ve never been afraid to interact with reasonable, law-abiding (even not so law-abiding) individuals. In fact, I quite enjoy it at times—for a time. I just can’t talk for hours, and the faster the crowd, the sooner my fuel runs out. Can ya hear the difference between the two? I’m starting to.

Susan continues, “Extroverts thrive in social situations. Where introverts feel at their most alive, and their most switched on, and their most capable when in quieter, more low-key environments.”

My husband is an extrovert, (sorry, a person who happens to flourish in busy spaces). Activity and volume wind him up. He plays our grandsons under the table. He’s all sticks as swords, obstacle courses, and magic shows. Me, I’m drainin like water from the tub. I’m paper and color pencil. Give me expertly rhymed, perfectly timed Dr. Seuss and I rock slowly for hours.

Sitting and writing in the quiet of my office, windows open, birds and breeze the only voices I hear—I’m lit like New Year’s Eve.

In my young adult years I had a difficult time sorting out why I didn’t want to go. Ya know…to the party, the wedding, the picnic, the bar mitzvah. (Never been to a bar mitzvah, just wanted to write the words). I always thought, What’s my problem?

Dad was always adamant about space between neighbors. It’s still a family joke that Dad doesn’t like people. I question that now, having agonized for years that I must hate people. I never seem to want to be around them. Why do I want to leave the party when it’s just getting started? I can’t tell you how much guilt comes in casting my own self out of society surmising that people are my problem. The only problem was lack of understanding and social bias. Failing to understand and appreciate how I run, respond, and recharge.

Are you an introvert? Have you cast yourself out of the culture because you haven’t the legs for the pace? Or are you still shifting your personality into an extroverts Maserati dragging your promising potential in the dust?

Y’all know my struggle with words. This is part of that effort to make room in this world for me—for us. Finding new words to clean this single, steady engine, open the wheels, and perform at optimum speed.

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