Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Are Introverts Weak?

I have spent the week with one of the most extroverted friends I have.

I have had a wonderful time with my very good friend, but after a week of being drawn into long conversations with multiple waitresses, tour guides, and strangers on the street... I am looking forward to a couple days of pulling that wall down in front of me and hiding behind my computer screen, in my quiet peaceful house.

All this got me to thinking that perhaps introverts are a little weak. Or at least perhaps we are perceived as weak. After all, why else would a human being need to nap/sit in a dark room after just going out and being with people?

I have needed this a lot this week.

My friends who know about my occasional aversion to profuse social interaction try to be empathetic--asking me over and over, "are you OK?" "Do you want to go take a walk?" "Do you want some alone time?" during our time out together.

In a way I appreciate their concern, they love me. But all the attention makes it worse! Please don't think of me as fragile. Please don't make a big deal about how I "feel." Please just let me be strong - capable--let me be the me I need to be when I am out with people. All this coddling makes me feel like you don't respect me, don't think I am able to function, or that you see me as "less" than you... In a way you are making me weak, or seem weak, to those around us.

I am quirky maybe- but I am not weak.

After giving it a lot of thought I came to this conclusion: introverts may need to take a "time out" from the hustle and bustle... maybe even a nap. And you can think of this as a fault if you would like. But the thing that makes an introvert "weak" is also the thing that makes us strong... We are able to "heal" ourselves. Being alone, or quiet, or less "outgoing"--or even just introspective, gives us back the energy that we lose, and the strength to move on. Extroverts by comparison have a harder time making themselves happier, calmer, more "together" -- they need other people to validate them, support them, bring them joy.

While we all need others to feel love and respect, introvert and extroverts manage social interactions differently. We in fact both have our strengths and weaknesses. I may be perceived as weaker because I need more time to myself, but because I get this... I am stronger!

Meghan Wier
Author Writer Web Consultant

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