Saturday, June 23, 2012

Introvert Saturday: The Grand Finale

Introvert Saturday guest posts have probably been the best thing I've done on this blog, and if you haven't read them I encourage you to go into the archives and check them out. There are some varied, heartfelt, and creative posts in there. I thought Kevin's post today was the perfect way to end the series, because it starts with struggle but ends with an unabashed confession of introversion.

About the author: Kevin Haggerty is a 32-year old husband and expecting father. He runs and writes for a humor blog called TheIsleOfMan.Net and is the author of An Idiot’s Guide to the Galaxy. Kevin is a freelance writer, editor and graphic designer. He also writes for a mixed martial arts (MMA) blog called MMAMania.com
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Growing up, I thought I was a weirdo. I wasn’t like a lot of the other kids. I wasn’t generally outspoken. That doesn’t mean I didn’t have anything to say. I had opinions, I just didn’t shout them from the rooftops.

In general, I kept to myself. Not to an extreme sense. I had friends. I liked to play outside, and I enjoyed sports, but there were times were I needed to retreat. I needed to be alone. I like reading. I liked drawing pictures.

According to society, this was abnormal.

This was a trend that has followed me my entire life. I tried to repress it. I tried to be sociable for everyone else. I would make myself go to parties and big gatherings. It was like a rite of passage for me, but afterwards, I always felt totally exhausted.

That’s the paradox of who I am. I was in a band that toured nationally and played in front of crowds of hundreds, and on a couple of occasions, thousands of people. I was a teacher for six years, and it was my job to get up in front of people (albeit, little people) to speak publicly, every single day. I have led worship, on and off, for the past 18 years.

For some reason, I’m able to perform those functions and survive. But if you ask me to go to an extended family get-together, or to the mall to go clothes shopping, or an type of gathering where there will be a lot of people (particularly people with whom I am not intimately familiar), I have an internal reaction that borders on a panic attack.

I don’t think this is a personality trait that many people even know or would guess about me. My wife knows, and so does most of my immediate family. But I would guess that most of friends, even my very close ones, have no idea.

The truth is that social interaction drains me. I enjoy it from time to time. Shoot, there are times when I straight-up crave it because it’s been so long. But most of the time, if you offer me the choice between going out to a big party, or staying home with my laptop, I will choose the latter.

Only recently did I realize that there were other people who felt this way. Other people, normal people, had dealt with the same demons that had plagued me my entire life.

But maybe they weren’t demons that I was dealing with. Maybe it was just part of what made me…me. Maybe, it’s even a positive trait.

Who are these people? They’re called introverts.

Webster’s Dictionary defines introverts as follows:

1) A shy, reticent, and typically self-centered person. A shy, reticent, and typically self-centered person.

2) A person predominantly concerned with their own thoughts and feelings rather than with external things

See? Even the DICTIONARY makes us sound like freaks. The definition makes us sound like a bunch of narcissists who care nothing for those around them.

This simply is not true.

Are we more self-aware than we are aware of our friends and family, maybe during segments of times, but the whole, I don’t believe that.

Introverts care deeply. They are highly emotional and passionate people. I would go further to argue that it is our moments of self-awareness that brings about a type of external awareness that never would have occurred, had we not had the opportunity to be left alone for a spell.

I’m 32 years old, and I’m just now realizing that I’m okay. It’s awesome that I’m an introvert! I embrace it. If you are an introvert, you should too!