In the initial years of my marriage, I found my Father-in-Law (FIL) scary and intimidating. Thanks to the family ranting. He was labelled as socially awkward who interacted less, never attended weddings, never went and stayed at anybody’s house (including his children’s), a recluse who had a bad temper. On the other hand, my mother-in-law (MIL) was the lovable and popular woman. However, gradually when I got to know my FIL closely I started empathising with him because I felt he was so much like me. I developed a unique ‘Machiavellian’ bonding with him that I could never develop with anyone else in the family. A bonding of two introverted souls that lasted till death did us apart.
My FIL was an introvert. He loved to be in his own world, hum a nice tune, sit quietly with a faraway look and just be himself, however, he was an absolute misfit in a house full of talkative extroverts where everyone talked loudly and nobody really sat and thought. He was judged and labelled with ‘negative’ character traits all through his life.
There are a lot of negative labels placed on introverts. Introverts are frequently misunderstood and judged by others. Extroverts feel that introverts are socially awkward loners who abhor large gathering. However introverts hardly judge others and they are not socially awkward beings, they just enjoy their space more than others (read extroverts). Introverts are thinkers and observers whereas extroverts are so busy chasing everything that they hardly have time to ponder or speculate.
My mother was an extremely popular extrovert woman, everybody loved her. She used to be the centre of attraction in any get-together. She loved people. She used to keep herself surrounded by friends and family. On the other hand, my Dad had very few friends and he kept to himself, mostly reading books. However, he was not unsocial. He had a great sense of humour and he had few genuine admirers who adored him, however unlike my mother he never grabbed popularity.
My mother used to feel I was not smart enough and she always insisted that I should give up shyness and be more forthright. I am not shy; I just do not feel comfortable talking to strangers. I cannot get friendly easily. I take time to make friends however once I make a friend I usually make it for life. I am not the type to meet someone and immediately click a selfie and post it on social media with the hashtag #bestfriendsforever. I choose my friends carefully and most of my friends are no less than a decade old.
“Shyness is behaviour -– it’s being fearful in a social situation, whereas introversion is a motivation. Its how much you want and need to be in those interactions.” Says Sophia Dembling, author of The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World.
Introverts do like people, but they typically favour quality over quantity in their relationships, choosing to focus on creating a smaller circle of close friends rather than a large network of acquaintances. We might enjoy large parties but want to sit and watch the action from the sidelines. Extroverts may interpret this as not wanting to have fun, but this observation is fun for an introvert. Introverts are not shy they simply require more alone time to balance out the energy they expend in social situations.
Extroverts love people, whereas introverts feel uncomfortable when there are too many people around. Like my Dad and FIL I also don’t like parties or weddings. It is so difficult for an introvert to leave the comfort zone and attend a gathering. Too many people make us uncomfortable.
Most introverts don’t connect solitude with loneliness. Extroverts feel sad when they are alone whereas an introvert recharges from solitude. Many introverts could easily go out to a cocktail party and talk up everyone in the room — and they may enjoy themselves doing it. But at the end of the day, they’ll look forward to restoring their energy by coming home and reading in bed with a cup of tea. Introverts really do like people and we like socializing,” Dembling says. “We just like it in different ways than extroverts.
Introverts do not need extroverts to feel happy however extroverts need introverts to feel good because without people around their fun is incomplete. We introverts have to cook up so many excuses to avoid these extroverts from I have tummy ache; to I have project work etc. However, my Dad and FIL had reached a stage where they could simply say “I don’t want to go because I don’t like it.” I am waiting for that day in my life when I would have the courage to just say “Please leave me alone”
Linking this post to #MondayMusings hosted by dear Corinne.