While walking the dachshund the other day, I was listening to a podcast from TEDTalks and I became quite emotional over the connection I felt to the speaker. Introverts have a unique bond with one another…and with the extroverts who are willing to take the time to understand us, work with us, and not judge us.
I am an introvert who has been called an extrovert more than once. I don’t necessarily find that to be incorrect or an insult. Quite frankly, I find that to be one of the most interesting compliments an introvert could ever be given because it means that we, the introverts, have been able to adapt to the extrovert’s world.
Listen to Susan Cain talk about our former agricultural society and then listen to how she connects the introverts of yesteryear to our modern day, one that is fueled by charisma and charm, sociabilty and gregariousness. Our modern day is moved forward by a big business state of mind, one that encourages, no…more like pushes and forces upon us all, the group dynamic. Notice that the introverts are more likely to be the ones left behind.
My early career in the hotel business groomed me, against everything I felt was comfortable and safe to me, to be personable and enthusiastic when dealing with strangers, friendly or otherwise. I became a salesperson, a haggler, a PR spokesperson, and, sometimes, a free therapist for hotel guests who found themselves alone, lonely, and far from home. I learned how to be friendly and patient at my worst moments, how to see the good in people, and how to force myself to look like I really wanted to be there…in a group, at a social event, on a stage receiving an award and being applauded by strangers and coworkers. Where would I have rather been? I would have rather been at home or upstairs in my hotel room, reading a book or watching some nerdy documentary on television.
This other piece about introverts from Susan Cain really hit home, too. It feels so good to know someone is on your side and willing to speak for you, even more so when they are one of your kind – a quiet person, a bookworm, a loner, a lover of solitude. There is nothing wrong with being an extrovert, although I do believe introverts are more often the ones who feel as though we must defend ourselves or work harder at being heard, trusted, or worthy of expectations. Susan Cain said it herself, in other words, of course, that some of us are perfectly capable of being ambiverts and that others live momentarily on the cusp of both at times, especially when life calls for it. Our tendencies steer us to be one way and, introvert or extrovert, we must adapt to the situations in which we find ourselves. I like to think this concept of different-ness means we are all actually more alike than we may have recognized.