This week this statement appeared in my Facebook feed, “Introverts unite, separately, in your own home”. I shared it, and not surprisingly, it got a lot of likes on my page. I have a lot of friends who are introverts. My closest friends tend to be introverts. What does it mean to be an introvert?
I don’t like small talk. I’m better at it than I used to be, but I still feel awkward.
I enjoy spending time with a few good friends, but feel uncomfortable in any situation where I have to “mix and mingle”, even when I know all of the people in the room.
I’m comfortable spending time by myself. In fact, I need time to myself to recharge.
Last Thursday I went to Scholastic’s Reading Summit. I was so excited to get to hear Donalyn Miller speak about reading. The Summit was great and I left inspired and excited about teaching in the fall, but since I went by myself my introversion was on display.
- I sat by myself on the end of a row, waiting for the first talk, and took out my Kindle to read.
- Lunch was provided and I sat with 8-10 other ladies without really talking to any of them. I made a few attempts to enter in a conversation with the group to my right, but didn’t feel particularly welcome and gave up. The two ladies on my left chatted with each other, so I finished my meal and went to find my next session.
- I was 30 minutes early and sat and read on my Kindle again.
- We went back for the keynote and I sat on the end, with an empty chair between me and the next person.
- At one point we were asked to talk with our neighbor. I looked to the ladies on the other side of the empty chair, but no one looked my way. I looked behind me, but those ladies were engaged with each other, so I just waited for the talk to start again.
The speaker (Donalyn Miller!) made eye contact with me when I was supposed to be talking with my neighbor, and I wondered what she thought of me. I know the teachers at my school would have been surprised at how quiet I was. I thought I must have looked antisocial or weird at the Summit, but I don’t feel that way in my everyday life.
It took me a long time to understand that being an introvert isn’t weird, and that I’m not really socially awkward. The older I get the more people I find who understand those feelings and share them.
Introverts of the world, unite! (Separately, and in your own homes.)