Being an Introvert: Happy in my Shell

The other day I went to my daughter’s school for some session. I was amidst a huge crowd and the discussion was around raising a confident interactive child. As the session proceeded, volley of questions were thrown towards the audience for opinions and suggestions. My mind at that time was an explosion of ideas and answers, and yet I failed to respond. I could hear myself explicitly forming sentences in my head, I nodded vehemently when I listened someone else voice my opinions and thought to myself ‘Wow, I was thinking just that’ and yet ended up feeling guilty that I could not speak up.

And the person that I am, this guilt of not being able to put forward my thoughts in front of the audience stayed with me the whole day. My biggest dilemma was that I was not feeling outwardly remorseful for not being able to interact. I went to the internet for help, to see if this aspect of my personality was as we say “Normal” according to societal norms. I was trying to find the answers but what I found amused me. I had entered a maze of self-help where anyone and everyone was trying to tell how I could overcome this fear of mine (which I thought was not fear but just part of my personality), how this was hindering my growth, how I could become more confident, how not to be an Introvert. Again I went into the guilt dungeon and this time it was serious business, it was like my personality needed introspection, needed change and demanded recognition.

And I did, I tried to imagine how I would have felt if I did speak up, would I have been happy, would I have been liberated, and strangely so, I realised that nevertheless I would have been unperturbed. I consider myself fairly confident, strongly opinionated and inherently introvert. I want to believe that being an introvert does not undermine me, and I refuse to think otherwise. I feel much more at peace writing, writing for me is an excellent source of expression since it allows me to pour all my thoughts without being judged. Am I scared being judged, NO, that I think is being shy. I just realised that to answer any question, I form an answer, an answer which mimics my thoughts in the most appropriate and intelligent manner, meanwhile the extrovert has already replied, they form their answers while talking and during their talking my mind has gone blank.

I am not the centre of universe at any party, I am not a head turner but I know that people close to me cherish my conversations. What I yearn for are conversations which are meaningful and stimulating. I talk passionately about subjects close to me, but somehow go numb at times at public events, there is always this urge to voice my thoughts but the urge is never strong enough to propel me to take the plunge. And is this attitude wrong? Not for me, but as a society we have been groomed to be social, gregarious, bold and outgoing. Staying in our own shell is often looked down upon, being indifferent or different is mostly not appreciated. All our institutions promote outspoken behaviour and the ones who remain in spotlight steals the show. We as a society always favour the hare in place of the tortoise.

Does that mean I am anti-social, that I want to be marooned on an island, no, I love being around people. It is just that I every once in a while I need to and want to go in a shell of solitude. Too much interaction drains my energy. Mostly the people around me perceive that I am obnoxious, judgemental which I am not, I just need time to think and register information for myself. Simply put I just want to acknowledge and celebrate the person that I am and feel no shame in not responding appropriately in social situations because the appropriateness of the situation has been determined by a society which is dominated by extroverts.