Apparently, the numbers are in, and introverts account for approximately 1/3 of the world’s population. This seems strange to me, because most of the people I associate with would probably call themselves introverts. Then again, perhaps like simply attracts like. I suppose I had assumed, and perhaps hoped, that the ratio was more like 50/50.
I am a full-on introvert. This has been plain since I was a kid. In social situations, I would literally run and hide behind my mother’s legs when my parents tried to introduce me to someone new. I was an “easy child” because I could entertain myself for hours with a book or toys. I didn’t need a playmate necessarily. I even put myself to bed. (My dad tells stories about that even today. “It would be getting dark, and we’d start to wonder where in the house you’d wandered off to. But as soon as you were tired, you’d just wander into your room and put yourself to bed without telling anyone.” To which my husband sometimes responds, “She still does that!”)
In grade school, I had morphed into an introvert/bookworm, checking out a dozen or so “chapter books” (usually about horses) at a time and finishing them before the end of two weeks. My mom was actually concerned that I read too much, and she tried to get me more involved outside of novels. By then, I had had the D.A.R.E. program in school, so I regularly informed her that a lot of kids do drugs…so she was lucky that all I had was a reading habit. (When I was eight, I started riding lessons. Pretty sure that was the only thing I would happily put a book down for…)
Don’t get me wrong, I always had friends. In fact, I usually was considered part of the “popular” crowd. Granted, I was fairly bad at being popular. While I sort of, kind of, belonged to such “groups” in school, I was almost always a fringe member…the bookish girl who usually knew the answers in class (thereby saving someone else from having to answer), the one who did most of the work in group projects, the one who was remarkably bad at sports.
I was so bad at being part of a group that I would very often lose touch with friends over the summer. I remember going to a birthday party at the end of the summer between my 7th grade and freshman year (I skipped the eighth grade…). Two of my three closest friends from the previous year met me in the driveway. They told me that they had pretty much convinced Whitney, the third friend, that I had died. Apparently, vanishing after the last day of school (i.e., not calling or making plans with anyone for two months) was weird.
Whitney hugged me as soon as she saw me, telling me she was glad I wasn’t dead. I felt badly about it–and also seriously wondered about the other two girls who had come up with the story–but, you know, I had been busy reading.
Somewhere along the line, I learned to fake extroversion in social situations. (I’m in sales…Introversion is not an option really.) I can turn it on and off when I want to, but being chatty and social with large groups still feels forced to me.
This is probably why I never enjoyed the “bar scene”
…or church picnics.
Or…if I’m being completely honest, that awkward moment during church service when the pastor asks you to introduce yourself to those around you.
But you know what? I’m beginning to learn that that’s ok.
Somewhere along the line, people starting prizing the qualities of the extrovert. And that’s fine really. But introverts have their place, too. Frankly, some of the characteristics of introverts are pretty awesome. We tend to think before speaking. We’re very good at working independently. We tend to have deep friendships. We tend to be very empathetic.
That’s some pretty good stuff.
Come to think of it, all of this is probably why I’ve always done so well on the farm…