One of the things I love about having a blog is being able to read through old posts, it's quite fascinating to see how some things change over time and other things stay persistently the same. I was reading through some old posts on my blog today, and I came across this post, one of the things that persistently stays the same!
I'm still an introvert, I still hate (hate, hate!) meeting new people, I still hate (hate, hate!) 90% of the social functions I have to attend and nine times out of ten, given the option, I would rather stay at home with my dog than venture out of the house. Sad, but true.
There was an article about being an introvert in a magazine I was reading a couple of weeks ago and, no surprises, I ticked all of the boxes.
It's a funny thing, when I meet new people for the first time they often mistake me for an extrovert, because I talk so much! It's a coping mechanism, one of many behaviours I have picked up over the years to cope with my dislike of social situations.
I used to work in a bank. Initially I worked in the data processing department, a job that was pretty much made for a person like me - stick me in a corner with a computer and I am as happy as a pig in poop. Then I became a clerk in the Saving and Investment department and I loved it, more of a challenge than data processing, with only the odd client to deal with. Same with the forex department, that was great. And then I got a promotion and was sent to work as the clerk in charge of the Enquiries counter. Oh my soul, I nearly died! In hindsight I can honestly say that it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I cope with being an introvert SO much better now, having spent a year dealing with the public non-stop, on a daily basis. I learnt all sorts of strategies and coping mechanisms to overcome my introverted nature and, strangely, I turned out to be really good at dealing with my clients, although I found it exhausting and emotionally draining.
Things I have learnt about being an introvert:
* If you are born an introvert you will always be an introvert, you may learn to cope with it better as time goes by, but you will remain an introvert. It's kinda like being an alcoholic! So you might as well learn to live with it in a positive way!
* Being an introvert is not an excuse to be rude. You may hate having to make conversation, having to meet strangers etc etc, but you need to learn to do it anyway, to be polite.
* Introverts find social interaction exhausting. The simple social interactions that most people take for granted require effort from introverts and that is so tiring; physically and emotionally. As an introvert you need to recognise this and deal with it. I can do a certain amount of socialising and then I have to have some solid, quiet, me-time. If I try to do too much socialising in a given time I end up burning out and having a bit of a melt-down and then my family takes strain. I factor this into my planning - for example I never stay over with friends or family for more than one night at a time, I don't organise too many events in one week-end and I try to intersperse busy week-ends with quiet weekends etc.
* It helps to educate your family. Grant and Rox find it hard to understand that I really don't want to go to this, that, or the other social event; and that meeting Joe Soap or Silly Susy for the first time is actually a major ordeal for me. But over time they have learnt to understand it better, because I have explained to them exactly how I feel.
*Compromise. I have had to force myself to not give in to my introverted nature ALL the time. There is a fine line between accepting the nature you were born with and allowing it to impact negatively on your family. I try to compromise. I force myself to do certain things that I really hate doing, because I know it's to the benefit of my family; but on the other hand I also expect them to be understanding when I really, really can't face yet another social shin-dig.
Finally, I have to say that there are positive spin-offs to being an introvert. I think the number 1 positive to come out of being painfully introverted is that introverts are generally sensitive to other people's feelings. Because you are so often uncomfortable, nervous, scared, awkward etc etc, you learn to recognise these feelings in other people (and animals!) You learn to be especially caring of other people's feelings and quite frankly that makes you a nicer person than a very large percentage of the population! So, yay for the introverts!