Thursday, January 19, 2012

What I've Learned From Extroverts...

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.

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  1. I have had those "pointing out the obvious" moments myself. You are very right that we introverts seem too notice so much more than others because we are so focused. Sometimes a good thing, sometimes not so much.

  2. I am seriously socially challenged. Everything you said hit the nail on my head.

    Bad thing is, while I know it, and I have tried to do better, I still feel helpless to change it.

    I just left the meet and greet with our new VP this morning without ever getting a chance to meet him directly because I felt uncomfortable doing so. I tend to say something really stupid so my philosophy is its better not to say anything. Prolly not the best, eh? LOL


  3. I can relate to all f these. I'm definately and introvert.

    hi from mk's

  4. This is so interesting. I think I see myself here!

  5. Another introvert here! With you 100% on this post.

  6. Funny... I was just having a conversation with one child, yesterday. She's an introvert. We, often, don't communicate well with one another. I tend to take it personally.

    I've heard about this great book called.."It takes all kinds". It's about the different personalities in the personality inventory that many people take. I'm planning on buying that book:)

    "mama, mama, can she talk?" you are an introvert!

  7. That is so true about people not being as focused on YOU as you are. Brilliant post Diane!

  8. Oh, roll with it and laugh, too? That's totally necessary. This is interesting because I'm a major extrovert. And sometimes say way too much and cross lines. Complete opposite, so it's eye opening to read about you who are opposite of me.

  9. Lovely to find another introvert ... and to learn a little something from you! From MamaKat's :)

  10. Great post! My daughter & I are both introverts, while my husband is 100% an extrovert. It's taken that relationship for me to appreciate what it REALLY means to be an introvert. I'm not sure I really understood myself until I married my opposite.

  11. Those are certainly words to live by and remember. I know that introverts are often mistaken for being aloof.

  12. I am a huge introvert. HUGE. But thing is, as a single parent I had to be an extrovert. Especially when my kids needed IEPs. And now I'm known as "that Mom", and no one believes that I am shy and introverted.

    But nothing makes me happier than closing myself up in my house and making my own little world happy. :)

    THIS, by the way, was a fantastic post.

  13. Reading this, I'm an interesting mix of intro and extra... on personality inventories, I'm always an extravert, but some of this really hits home. New social situations... oh I cannot tell you how many times people tell me they thought I was a total snob when they first met me... it's because I feel shy and awkward in new situations, but when you get to know me, I'm not... *sigh*

  14. I have to find a sneaky way to get my introverted husband to read this. This sounds so much like him.

    I think everyone has his/her introverted moments. I'm basically an extrovert, but I have had times when I was intimidated by a situation or hurt when no one noticed something I was proud of, but usually I let all of that roll off my back. I understand other people have other priorities.

    I can't imagine living my life being in such a constant state of feeling slighted, unworthy, disliked, and/or not living up to impossible standards of perfection.

    "Lighten up" says it all.