The other day I went shopping with a friend. When our trip was over, she said (knowing that I am a serious introvert) “Now you’ll need some time just to yourself”. We both laughed, but I thought I don’t need any time to myself, I had a great day!
Sure enough though, as soon as I was caught up on the kids’ day and made sure they had a snack, I subconsciously retreated into my own headspace. I’m very good at doing that. Especially when I have a task to disguise it, like making dinner or doing the dishes or vaccuming — vacuuming is the best because I can pretend I can’t hear anyone.
So my friend was right, even though I’m too strong-willed to have thought it at the time.
But not everyone understands what being an introvert means. One of my sons has had a string of teachers that just don’t get it.
One did though. Here’s what she knew:
Introverts love to talk, but they won’t share unless they have something to share and someone to listen. Unless you ask specifically or your introvert friend feels really comfortable with you, they won’t share. My son’s teacher recognized this and asked me what he enjoyed doing. Among other things, I mentioned that he really liked watching the show Mythbusters. That night she went home and watched a few episodes with her husband. Because she made the effort to create common ground, he began to open up to her. He began to see her as someone who was interested in him as a person and his schoolwork showed a huge improvement that year (and it continued on that path too).
I have another friend who, when we first met, saw my introversion right away. For the first several months, she would ask “How are you?” several times in a row whenever we got together. For many people that might seem silly, but for me, it took her asking again and again for me to realize that she didn’t want the standard “Great, thanks. How are you?”. She really wanted to know how I actually was doing, what was going on in my life and what was on my mind.
My shopping trip buddy also knows one of the great secrets that introverts won’t tell you: Introverts love being around people, but they need time to themselves later on. They need time to recharge and build up energy for the next social outing (or even for work the next day where they’ll be interacting with others).
Here’s another thing Introverts won’t tell you: They have close friends. Maybe not as many as others, but the friends they have are long-term, in it for keeps, bosom buddies. They may not see them every day, they may not talk every day, or even every month, but the friends they have are the kind you want.
But the most important thing that Introverts won’t tell you is that There’s nothing wrong with being an Introvert. Don’t feel like you need to turn your quiet friend into the life of the party. They don’t need to be changed or “fixed”. They do need to know that you like them enough to spend the time to get to know them. And really, isn’t that what we all want? Someone who enjoys getting to know us and spend time with us?
So go ahead and hug and introvert. Just make sure to warn them first!
What’s your experience? Do you know someone who leans towards being an Introvert?