Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Introvert

While I'm on this "being honest about myself" kick, I may as well go a little further. Farther? What's the difference? (Ha... and I want to be a writer...)

I've always considered myself something of an introvert. Put me in a room with a bunch of random people that I'm not too familiar with, and there's a good chance I will be standing off to the side, outside the crowd, waiting for someone to notice me or take the initiative to come start a conversation. I'm not good with starting a conversation. Once I'm inside the comfort of a conversation, I'm usually okay. Even if I don't know the initiator too well, I can generally hold my own. Just don't expect me to be the one to break the ice.

Is that what an introvert truly is? My dad was pretty much the same way. Dad was a really funny, witty kind of guy, but there are a lot of people who never knew it. There are probably a lot of people who were in his life, and people I've known over the years, who would probably think the same thing about both of us: that we're stuck up or that we're too good to talk to people. That's just not the case. Dad was shy. I'm shy. It's kind of crippling at times.

According to, an introvert is simply defined as a shy person. But I don't think that's enough to define me. Like I said before, you get me into a conversation, especially with people I know, and I'm fine. Most of the time I'll still be quieter than most, only chiming in when I feel the time is right, but that's because I spend a lot of time observing. Despite my seeming disinterest in being around people, I do love to watch people. People are interesting. It's fun to watch people's reactions to certain things or even to each other.

Is there a cause for this kind of shyness though? I've always written it off as an aspect of my personality. I almost said "flaw" there, but I don't like the term "personality flaw." That's like saying that simply because someone is shy, they're damaged. I don't think I'm damaged. Unless you read yesterday's post, in which case, yeah, it's likely I'm damaged. But the damage I referred to yesterday isn't about my personality. It's about my current psychological state and is completely off subject. So if you don't mind, we'll continue. Please save your remaining questions for the end of the lecture. Thank you!

As I was saying, I don't feel that my personality is flawed. I just happen to be uncomfortable in situations that put me face to face with new people. There have been occasions when I've been able to overcome the crippling shyness and I've gotten by just fine. But the anxiety that builds up is indescribable. But when I really think about it, what is there to be so anxious about?

I've always made a lot of big talk about how I don't care what people think of me. I can probably count on one hand the number of people whose opinions truly matter to me. But what it comes down to is that that is all a lot of big talk. And it's an easy thing to say behind the mask of this blog. In real life, where I really live, I allow people's opinions of me to weigh me down. And it shouldn't be that way at all. I shouldn't care what people think. Is my shyness all stemmed from an odd form of pessimism created by fear of what people will think when I finally open my mouth to speak?

Abraham Lincoln once said, "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." While that quote isn't constantly playing through my mind as I prepare to talk to anyone, the idea behind it may very well be something that drives my shyness. But why should it? Why should I care if someone thinks I'm foolish or intelligent or witty or mean? Shouldn't it only matter what I think of myself?

Maybe that's exactly what it comes down to: self-confidence. If I can just figure that one out, maybe I'll be able to cure this whole shyness thing. So I'll be working on that. Now, are there any questions? You in the back? Is that your hand raised? Oh, I'm sorry sir, you were just doing a search for public speaking tips and accidentally stumbled into my blog. Sorry to disappoint. The bathroom's down the hall on the left.

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