Until I watched this TED talk on the Power of Introverts by Susan Cain it had never truly occurred to me - that I am in fact, an Introvert. Now nearly all the people who know me might strongly disagree with that - however I think the ones that know me well, will be surprised that it took me so long to figure it out. I think because, like the video says, society seems to value the Extrovert characteristics far more and so naturally I think we try to emulate those characteristics as much as we can. Being social, engaging in small talk, entertaining at home, all of these are actively encouraged by society and seen as natural and indeed healthy modes of behaviour. Not for an Introvert. These are seen as one very large, and very unnerving obstacle and something that if it can be avoided should be avoided - and at all costs.
Now surprisingly, I have in fact held many parties over the years, including three rather large film screenings of my documentary where I was also required to stand up and give speeches - I'm going to admit that Tequila came to my aid on all the of the above occasions. The parties were big ones with very elaborate invitations and soundtracks, yes soundtracks. But I realised rather too late in the game, that it was the planning I enjoyed, the idea of all these people having a wonderful time. I was more than happy to stay home on the sofa and read.
I now see why for so much of my life I have found so many social things a struggle, even walking into a room full of my closest friends. I also see why I've forced myself to do things that have made me want to vanish into a very small hole, but I've done them anyway because I felt that it was expected. I thought that in order to get anywhere in life you had to 'put yourself out there'. You had to engage with the world and go for job interviews and learn to work as a team player. The phrase 'Team Player' makes me want to break out in hives just thinking about it.
It was after making my film 'Watching Water', that I realised my best work is best done alone, in the quiet - usually with headphones on and for some reason it's taken me a long time to recognise this. I'm slowly learning to stop apologising for this too. I'm also learning to factor in quite time - no matter what. To give myself permission to not have to be social in the manner that others expect. I might not go to your birthday bash at the pub, but I will have endless one on one chats until 3am if you need me to, but please leave me out of your Hen party. Please.
As time has gone on my good friends know this about me and allow me to be me. I am in turn allowing myself to do what I'm good at and to let the other stuff and all those expectations go. And just when I fear I may well slip off into the total reclusive world of my own creative brain, my husband (who has enough Extrovert for all of us quite frankly) will simply, by his very nature, not allow it. It's a partnership that works surprisingly well though.
If you resonate with this, or know someone close to you who is an introvert, then you'll enjoy this talk. It's incredibly insightful and refreshing and makes me forgive myself for hiding my phone in the sofa most of the time. It's also invaluable if you have a child or someone close to you who may be an Introvert and who is perhaps struggling with what that means and the world's expectations of who they 'ought' to be. This video will be well worth your time I promise you.
Photo credits: https://uk.pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=introvert&rs=typed&0=introvert%7Ctyped