Monday, June 25, 2012
When I was growing up, I was the favourite of many teachers and also the apple of my father’s eye because I was a ‘quiet’ child. One teacher I met at the recent silver jubilee reunion of my school, remembered me as ‘the quiet clever girl’. Today, a quiet child rarely features as a favourite student on any teacher’s list. The world has tilted its scales in favour of extroverts.
Most people rarely understand introverts. They assume that they either lack confidence or that they are unfriendly. The truth is that introverts prefer to be in their own space and are quite self-confident, but some do lack social confidence. Many philosophers, leaders and innovators were introverts, yet were successful in what they did. One of their reasons for their success lies in their capabilities to be alone. Like hermit crabs, they sit in their shells musing and debating about life.
But I’m not going to extoll the virtues of introverts here. Susan Cain has done that very passionately in her book, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a world that can’t stop talking” as well as in the TED talk. http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts.html .She has made a strong case for ‘Why the world should embrace introverts’, but the truth is that most people are naturally drawn towards extroverts. Due to their gregarious nature, they have a great advantage over the quieter ones in most walks of lives.
I have been an introvert all my life. My close friends and family have had to accept that solitude has and will be my constant and best friend. I am very friendly when I meet people, but it never occurs to me that I should ‘keep in touch’ to assert my friendliness! In spite of having worked in the US (where schools and businesses nurture extroverts) and not getting invited to parties by ‘friends’ (which is probably a good thing as I tend to be a wallflower when I’m at one!), it didn’t ever bother me to not be an introvert.
That is until now! As my children, who aren’t introverted like me(fortunately for them and unfortunately for me!) claim that they lose out on play dates and other social activities since I’m not friendly enough with the other moms! In this era of organised play dates and mothers having a great influence on who their kids play with, I can see that the children of an introvert mom can easily get isolated. So, for the sake of my kids, with great difficulty, I’m now slowly learning to crawl out of my shell!!