I recently purchased Quiet: The Power of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I know. I know. You’re thinking “HER??? QUIET???” And for the most part you would be right. I wasn’t always as bold and talkative as I am now. As a child I was, for the most part, shy, quiet, unassuming & perfectly content to be alone reading, drawing or watching tv. Then, and very much now, I found myself in situations where I was surrounded by people and noise & just wanted so desperately to find a pathway out that no one noticed so that I could be back in my little world of solitude and quiet.
Right now, I’m sitting alone in my home & although I do love the times when I’m surrounded by my family, I am, in this moment, incredibly happy and content. In the seventies and eighties, when you were asked to do things that made you feel uncomfortable by teachers, parents or even friends, there was much more of a sense that you should do it because it was the appropriate and mannerly thing to do. I regularly found myself suspending the “introverted Noelle” and trying out for plays, being in school programs where I was required to SING, which mortified (& still mortifies) me & raising my hand in class to participate. I have vivid memories of being scared that I would be called on. Anyone but me, anyone! Outward appearances clearly showed that I wanted to be a part of things. I went to school dances and danced. Dancing is as bad as singing for me. It requires some liquid courage. Chuck gets frustrated that I let people take advantage of me in my business because often this closet shyness prevents me from standing up for myself. Self-promotion? Horrifying to me. I have always been overly concerned with what people think of me, though as I age that seems to be rapidly dissipating. If you’ve seen me at Kroger, I’m sure you’re nodding your head.
The challenge I face now is having a child who is even MORE introverted than I ever was. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing, yet I don’t want him to miss out on life. Looking back, I’m glad there was that sense of unintentional pressure to participate. I have lots of happy and funny memories I wouldn’t otherwise have. I want him to have them too. He seems to share the mechanism of lifting his introverted ways to do things he REALLY wants to do like pitch a baseball game. I’ve asked a million times if he’s doing it for him or for us. He loves the game so he does what it takes. He is very, very comfortable around his best friend’s family & isn’t at all shy around them. It’s a comfort zone for him. A safe place. Kids like that need those.
Today, I’m picking the kids up early for doctor appointments & they’ll miss math. I e-mailed the teachers and made them aware so that they could be sure & let the boys know what they’re missing. One teacher responded that she would love for Brooks to come to her room at noon so she can keep him up to speed on the lesson. Of course, my introvert. He was mortified. He said he wasn’t going. I let it go, mainly because I was not with him when he got the news that she wanted him to come. His dad was. His dad who isn’t shy, who teaches classes to rooms full of consultants and law students, who speaks publicly OFTEN and manages an entire region of the US for his company. If his dad is shy, he suspends it ALOT. He emails the teacher and tells her Brooks might not show. The teacher asks the assistant principal to page him to her classroom at lunchtime. He’s going to be appalled. It’s a small thing, really, but not to him. Should we be doing things like this more? I don’t know. Maybe the book will help. I’ve always been a parent who just made their kid do what *I* thought he/she should do, with the exception of sports. (In this house, you only play if you want to play. That’s another entry in itself!) I truly believe that one of the best qualities anyone can have is the ability to be alone & be content. I like to think that right now we are giving him opportunities to do just that, yet encouraging him to branch out in some social arenas so he won’t be branded a loner or rude or anti-social. None of those accurately describe him.
What do you have to offer? Do you have an introvert?