I am an introvert. No two ways about it. I think many of the kids in my elementary and middle school probably suspected something was seriously wrong with me because I rarely spoke to anyone. And if they didn't think something was wrong with me? They thought I was a complete and total snob who thought she was too good for them all.
Of course neither of those things were true. Social situations were just extremely difficult for me.
And while I have improved my social skills greatly over the years, I'm still the same ole introvert I always was. But because I find it hurtful when I hear that someone concluded that I simply did not like him or her (thanks to the extroverts in my life telling me so) I have learned to make more of an effort to appear a little less aloof.
And that's not the only lesson I've learned from the extroverted people I have known and loved over the years.
Here are just a few more that come to mind...
~Other people, even the ones you are closest to, really cannot read your mind. I seriously think I forget this from time to time. An introvert internalizes everything. Our wheels are constantly turning within even when we may appear to be in a complete state of rest on the outside. So I now try to make more of an effort to actually speak or write some of my emotions, wants, and needs rather than keeping them locked up tight in that little box in my head.
~Paying someone a compliment can often turn their day around. (Just do it.)
I know this because I have been on the receiving end of such compliments. I don't think I ever realized though that while I often thought of them myself, I rarely spoke them.
Charlie (one of the most extroverted people I've ever met) helped me see this a few years ago... He was wearing a light turquoise-colored polo and I said, "You look really good in that color. That's your color." A huge grin came across his face and he said, "Thank You! You don't give compliments very often." My reply was, "I don't? Well...I think them."
So now I try to remember to actually pay the compliment forward rather than keeping it to myself.
~Someone not remembering your birthday or another significant date/detail does not mean they don't love you. I think this was one of the hardest lessons for me to learn. We introverts think, observe and listen much more than we speak which makes it easier for us to remember such things. I rarely ever forget someone's birthday. Ever. Once I file something like that away internally, it is always there.
Most extroverts are not like this. I am aware now that this is a gift and that I should not take it personally when someone else doesn't remember every single detail about me and about our past together. They are just wired differently, that's all.
~Go ahead and point out the obvious because chances are pretty good that it may not be as obvious as you think. Again, introverts internalize things and we listen to and observe our surroundings A LOT because we aren't busying ourselves with chatter. So what may seem obvious to us may go completely unnoticed by everyone else.
I can't tell you how many times I've kept quiet about something important simply because I thought it was obvious to all, only to find out later (from an extrovert) that I was the only one who noticed.
~People are not nearly as focused on you as you are. So lighten up.
I think that we [introverts] spend so much time within ourselves that we sometimes assume that the rest of the world is just as focused on us which leads to more social awkwardness and anxiety.
They are not.
And the extroverts in my life have taught me this. Chances are pretty good that nobody else is noticing that tiny zit beside your nose, that little scuff you just got on the front of your boot, or that your black t-shirt is a shade off from your black yoga pants (something you did not yourself notice until you got out into a brighter light and are now freaking out inside about.)
So now when I feel myself having an inner panic attack over something so insignificant and trivial, I remind myself of what my beloved extroverts would do...
And I just roll with it...
Shrug it off, carry on, and roll with it.
And maybe even laugh at myself a little in the process.
**This post is part of the Writer's Workshop at Mama's Losin' It.