This week, random.org “chose” Mama Kat prompt number five for me: Share a lesson (or lessons) you learned about friendship from an introvert. This prompt was based on this absolutely fabulous (to me) post from (in)courage.
A prompt that initially sounded deceptively easy ended up forcing me to examine all of my relationships, an examination that led me to conclude that I tend to surround myself with extroverts. I can’t think of a single friend of mine who is a classic “introvert.” Maybe I just haven’t been paying attention.
The word “introvert” always makes me think of the many times I have taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Almost every time, my “e” for “extrovert” and “i” for “introvert” are fairly evenly balanced. But in my heart of hearts, I know that I am a) energized by being alone rather than with a group (introvert) and b) have plenty of entertaining observations about the world parading through my head to which I rarely give voice (introvert, pre-blogging!).
In researching this post, I read a piece by Carl King entitled “10 Myths About Introverts.” The ten myths (and an abbreviated summary of King’s counterpoints) follow:
Myth #1: Introverts Don’t Like to Talk (Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say).
Myth #2: Introverts are shy. (They just need a reason to interact.).
Myth #3: Introverts are rude. (They don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries.)
Myth #4: Introverts don’t like people. (If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. )
Myth #5 – Introverts don’t like to go out in public. (They just prefer shorter public outings because they will want to go home and process all the data and experiences they have taken in.)
Myth #6 – Introverts always want to be alone. (They do crave authentic connections, one person at a time.)
Myth #7 – Introverts are weird. (Their decisions are not based on trendiness.)
Myth #8 – Introverts are aloof nerds. (Their inner world is so rewarding that it makes sense to them to look primarily inward.)
Myth #9 – Introverts don’t know how to relax and have fun. (They shut down if there is too much talking and noise going on.)
Myth #10 – Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts. (Fix? FIX?)
Having bought some time with a list that I think has some insightful observations about introverts, I am still left wondering about the original premise: What have you learned from an introvert?
I think it is this:
Even the people who are “life of the party” animated sometimes are a lot more inward-looking than they appear on the surface. One of the things I can do for them is give them an opportunity (a quieter coffee/lunch date, a run/walk, etc.) to not be “on” and to say the things that may not be closest to the surface.
Even though it’s most comfortable for me if someone carries the weight conversationally, I may be doing someone who is “less of a talker” an appreciated service when I throw the conversational ball myself a few times. The two-way street should have good traffic flow both ways.
I should remind myself that someone who comes across as “snobby” may not be that – they just may not be much of a small talker. This is an area where our current world of blogs and micro-blogs has helped, I think. Learning about someone through their written content sometimes gives me a completely different window into their psyche (not to mention some ready-made conversation starters – phew!).
Lastly, I wholeheartedly agree with #4 – although I struggled to identify one individual in my life from whom I could squeeze an example for this post, as I think about it, of the “friends for life” who come to mind, most of them would probably fall more toward the “introvert” side of the continuum rather than the “extrovert.”
My gratitude for their stalwart friendship, with or without small talk and life-of-the-party-ness, is no myth. It is true thankfulness. Maybe I need to tell them.