After writing this post, I felt a great cathartic sense of relief deep down in my soul, ridding myself of all the pent-up frustration with being misunderstood and teased about my quietness.
However, I’ve been mulling over the whole issue ever since, and re-reading my own words now, I realize that in my eagerness to express the sheer vexation of these kinds of social misunderstandings, I sounded really cranky and resentful and I forgot to write about the second crucial part of my thoughts:
To the extroverts in my life: I love you! I need you. I appreciate you.
I admire your ability to speak off the cuff, to chat naturally and easily with strangers and acquaintances, to break a dull silence without fear, to jump in and get involved. I am truly in awe of your ability to reach out to people and make connections and friendships rapidly and sincerely, in a matter of hours rather than months (or years). I am (sometimes) grateful for the times that you rouse me out of my solitude and occasional hermit-ish tendencies and make me get out there and DO things and SEE things.
I completely, fully understand your efforts to reach out to me, to bring me out of my shell. In my previous post, I pointed out that saying things like “You’re so quiet” and “Wow, you talked!” are not helpful, but I 100% understand why you say it. I know my silence can be, at times, uncomfortable, confusing, or frustrating to you. I’m sorry for that. I know you just want to communicate with me, just want to hear from me, just want to keep the flow of conversation going, just want to be friendly. I just want you to try to understand my silence, that’s all. And if you have ever said something like that, I hold no grudges. There is zero resentment or anger in my heart.
(In fact, I think these comments were so much more frustrating in my growing-up years because I was shy and felt helpless and unable to come up with the words to correctly express my feelings and correct their misperception of my personality. These days, the frustration has lessened as my ability to respond appropriately, politely but firmly, has increased.)
I accept and embrace our very different approaches to life and people and communication and society. Your preferred method of communication is speaking, and your source of energy is being with other people; mine is written communication and I gain energy from being alone.
But all of the introverts out there know (or should know, but maybe they’re in denial) that without extroverts, we would be very lonely and sad and miserable in the end because all of us would stay home all the time, and there would be no one to persuade us that hey, maybe we should go out and it could be fun and we might make new friends, and no, it won’t be the end of the world and we won’t die.
So, my dear extroverts: thank you. Like the sun and the moon, day and night, we balance each other out.
One without the other is no good.