“Socialization” and being an introvert

(This post could also have been titled: Why I Won’t Be Going to my High School Reunion)  ;)

I think I’ve earned something of a name for myself amongst my close friends who

A. don’t even bother to invite me to any big events where I’ll be surrounded by people I don’t know and

B. know that if they want to introduce me to anyone new, they pretty much have to invite me over and “forget” to tell me that another friend will be there, too!

My idea of the perfect vacation?   Jon taking all the kids up to to visit his mom and leaving me at home!

Funny thing is, once I get out and actually meet new people, I usually have a good time, but social events with large groups of people are not something I seek out very often.  I think the author of this controversial article (which I’ve written a rebuttal to, here) said it best when she wrote:

While an extravert is energized by frequent social involvement, an introvert gains energy through quiet, private reflection.

I think “introverts” are often thought of as anti-social or shy, and that isn’t always the case (although I, personally, definitely do experience anxiety in social situations with people I don’t know.)  One of my kids tends to be more introverted and although music lessons have really helped her overcome her shyness, she still tends to be a quiet, deep thinker.  Last week, I was talking with relatives who were suggesting ways I could help her to “come out of her shell” (and, of course, the topic of “socialization” always comes up for homeschooling families!) and I tried to explain that I didn’t think she needed to “come out of her shell” in quite the ways they were concerned about, but I don’t think they understood.  Today, I came across an article on this subject that I really appreciated and thought I’d share.  It’s titled “I’m an introvert, and I don’t need to come out of my shell.”  (It’s a little snarky, and I don’t agree with everything the author says, but I did appreciate some of his points.)  In it, the author writes:

If a kid is introverted he doesn’t need to be broken like a dog. He doesn’t need to change his personality. He doesn’t even need to “come out of his shell.” He’s not hiding in a shell….

…Put simply, an introvert is energized by being alone or in small groups, where he or she can think, create and contemplate. An extrovert finds fulfillment primarily in large groups, and generally hates being alone. It’s more complicated than this, obviously, but I’m just hitting the basics. The crucial point is that introversion has nothing to do with fear, and extraversion has nothing to do with boldness or courage.

I’m an introvert. But I host a talk show. But I’m not talkative. But I like public speaking. But I don’t like meeting strangers. These only seem like contradictions to those who don’t understand basic human psychology. Most people who work behind a mic or in front of a camera are naturally introverted…

…Introverts might not enjoy parties, but that isn’t because they’re afraid of them… They’d rather take their beer into another room and read something, or write something, or think about something. They aren’t hiding from human interaction, they’re doing the thing that energizes them and brings them fulfillment.

Indeed, many of the greatest inventors, engineers, creators, thinkers, writers, artists and revolutionaries have possessed the apparently defective trait of introversion. Einstein, Newton, Yeats, Proust, Shakespeare, Orwell, Edison, Plato, Bill Gates — all introverts. And all incredibly successful BECAUSE of this trait, not in spite of it….

I’m not saying all introverts are towering geniuses — I’m living proof that it doesn’t always work that way — but, still, your 5th grade introvert might have beautiful intellectual gifts that don’t include being naturally outgoing. Who cares? He won’t make a great salesman, so what? His personality is an asset in so many ways, even if the world says otherwise. The world doesn’t know what it’s talking about… No, there isn’t anything defective about those quiet kids in class. But there might be something brilliant about them. They might be able to think and create incredible things in their quiet mind, inside that “shell,” up in that mysterious head of theirs…

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Related Articles:

I’m not an anti-social witch, I’m an introvert with a type A pesonality

Where DO I get my energy (quiverfull and the type-A personality)

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