My parents were told that I needed to “come out of my shell” and that I had to “get over” my shyness. I had friends as a kid but not many because I never felt having dozens of friends was necessary. My close friends were like family and that worked for me. Even today I only have a handful of friends within a sea of acquaintances and I’m perfectly fine with that.
After reading Susan Cain’s book and recently finishing Joanna Penn’s, I think I can officially come out of the closet—I’m an introvert. I hate making small talk with strangers. I don’t collect business cards and I’m not interested in amassing 100,000 Twitter followers. I recharge from spending time alone. Going to a party without excessive amounts of alcohol in me (which I no longer ingest) is downright painful. One-third to one-half of all of us are introverts.
I’m not on a crusade to tame extroverts the way my teachers used to try to get me to be more social. Some people thrive in bustling, busy crowds and some find it akin to torture. No judgment; just facts.
But aren’t you an author and a musician? Don’t you have to be comfortably outgoing?
Yes. And I can appear to be in many situations. I spent decades in an industry that required me to speak in front of an audience and run workshops. I can fake it. I spent seven years fronting a heavy metal band. But as soon as I came off the stage or out of the conference room I was looking for a quiet place, a refuge. Being an introvert faking extroversion is physically exhausting.
I like people but I’m not a “people person.” I prefer emails to phone calls and fewer, closer relationships instead of lots of shallow ones. And just because mingling at a cocktail party makes me nauseous doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with me. Puking on the hors d’oeuvres tray instead of running to the bathroom, however, is an indication that I have issues and a twisted sense of humor.
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