Words from a Reader

The “Writing Life Stories” e-mails I receive are such treasures. As soon as I see there is one in my inbox, I read it immediately. I look forward to them and never know how they will touch me. They can be interesting, informative, humorous, and/or touching.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

I recently listened to a podcast by an author who has studied and researched this question. 

I thought I was an introvert most of my life, and when I moved to my home in the mountains, I changed. But after listening to this writer today, I realized that I was not an introvert. I was shy as a child and as a young adult. 

The definition of shy is fear of social judgement. My youngest brother, my little sister and I were the ones in our family who were fearful of social judgement. We were laughed at by our older brothers and shamed when we should not have been ashamed. My brothers loved to make fun of a friend or a family member, especially when the victim of their actions cried or became angry and tried to fight back. As a result, even with all the love from Mother, we did not feel good about ourselves. Living with the fear that others would make us feel foolish, that we would embarrass ourselves, paralyzed us in many ways. Worrying about what others thought of us was our Achilles heel.

For me, moving away from home, from the town where I grew up, and away from family freed me from that fear, well almost freed me. When I go back home, that same fear sneaks in and tries to cripple me again.

It has taken all these years for me to realize that I was hampered by shyness and therefore, did not pursue many experiences I might have had that would have increased my chances to be a better writer or be an entrepreneur. Fear of my brothers' disapproval or their belittling me, was too strong to overcome when I lived in their presence all the time. 

That is why my friends here in the mountains cannot believe me when I tell them how shy I was or how lacking in self-confidence. I am a totally different person today. When I began sharing my writing here, over twenty years ago, I received kudos and soon began submitting and publishing my work. I had never had that kind of recognition of my abilities. 

Parents should look for what is causing shyness in their children. Notice when and where the child is not shy. Perhaps when she is doing something she really loves, parents can give her praise and make her feel good about herself. And if others in the family tease or shame her, make sure that behavior stops. It damages a child in a way parents don't often understand or appreciate. This kind of emotional abuse never quite goes away and forms adults who lack confidence in themselves, causes addiction to drugs and alcohol, because the damaged person is always looking for something to give him courage. It is a kind of bullying that is not recognized for what it does to others.

Introverted people are born with genes that form their personalities, making them become over-stimulated by crowds or noise, and making them long for their own quiet spaces. An introvert likes small groups for short time periods. 

An extrovert loves the stimulation of people. I had a dear friend who was the epitome of an extrovert. She was  "the life of the party", loud and laughing.
Everyone who knew her loved her. She brought joy into the room with her. I loved her, but she tired me out. I felt like she was "turned on" and could not turn off. 

I wonder how many confuse shyness with being an introvert. While I do love my quiet time and my own company, I am stimulated by the company of friends and, especially those who are writers. 

On Saturday I attended a three hour writers workshop and came home exhilarated and ready to work on my next book. We feed off each other's thoughts, ideas and energy. 

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday. Although the fireworks scared Lexie and little Smokie, they survived. We did not watch the waste of money parade in Washington or any news for several days. It was a great weekend.

Are you, my readers, shy, an introvert or do you thrive on being with others?


Elephant's Child said...

I am both shy AND an introvert.
I find people fascinating but need time on my own to recover. And I find extreme extroverts complete energy vampires.

DJan said...

I've always been extroverted. My sister to whom I am close is an introvert, so we will perfect playmates growing up. I protected her from others and had a perfect audience for all my antics. I also married an introvert, since I am most comfortable with them. :-)

Glenda Beall said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Glenda Beall said...

Sometimes I think I was both introvert and shy when I was young. Now I think I am a bit of both, introvert and extravert. There are days when I want to hibernate and see no one. Other days, I crave the company of my friends or my sister.
I am definitely stimulated by being with writers. Thanks EC for stopping in.

Glenda Beall said...

DJan, I can tell you enjoy people. Your life is and has been filled with friends and like-minded people. My sister was just like me, shy and insecure, but she did things I would never do. She went out for majorette and loved it, marching on the field at football games. But she would almost die if the teacher called on her to speak in class. I was the same about class.
I think it all depends on what you are called upon to do and how well you do it that affects the way you feel. I did not do well in math, so when I was called to go to the board and complete a problem, my mind went blank and I wanted to curl up and die. Thank God, I never have to do that again.