If you have ever taken a Myers-Briggs inventory or something similar you know that we can all be classified into various personality types. I don’t remember my type exactly, but I do know that the first choices are between I and E (introvert and extrovert). I am most definitely an I. I have learned to become more extroverted over the years, and in work situations you might not even realize that I prefer to sit quietly and soak things in before weighing in on matters. However, that is my comfort zone, in certain social situations I revert to my “shy” ways of the past. It is not that I am afraid to speak, or even feel uncomfortable speaking, just that my internal processing doesn’t always allow me to speak out in a timely manner. I get irritated when people shine a negative light on this trait, especially when I can see my son following the same path. The world has too many extroverts already, people who speak first without thinking, people who need external validation in order to function. I’m perfectly content to know that the only validation that really matters is personal validation. I know that I am my own best supporter and best critic, and at the end of the day my voice is the only one that really matters to me.
I hope I can steer my son away from people that tell him he is shy, and try to force him to speak when he isn’t comfortable. I hope he can grow up knowing that there is nothing wrong with needing a few moments to process things internally before speaking out. I refuse to label my son with a term like shy. His own grandparents keep using this term, and I need to nip it in the bud. Yes, it takes him a while to warm up to people he doesn’t see on a regular basis, but I find this endearing and helpful in that I don’t think he is apt to talk to strangers. Yes, the world needs outgoing extroverts to blaze new trails, but it needs the introverts to get down to the details and actually get things done. My son is not deficient (nor am I) because he functions better as an introvert. I firmly believe that the more you label and try to change the more introverted people become…it is a defense mechanism. The more you encourage and accept the less people need to be introverted. So there, that is my new tidbit of wisdom for the day (or month).
All of the above stems from my recent realization that I have very few friends in my life that I haven’t known since forever. I wonder if I would be happier if I took a few more risks and just put myself out there more. I do find myself wanting more strong friendships, or even a few more casual friends. I’ve found some great friends in online environments, people I consider to be true friends, but sadly geography keeps us from doing things in person. I suppose it was an initial risk to put myself out there online, and it has paid off…just need to do it “in real life” as well. I suppose it doesn’t help that my one hobby, running, is a very solitary activity. Yes, there are running groups, but I really do prefer to run by myself, even really long runs. I’ve tried running with others, and it is okay, but running alone is usually better. I may just go to a Mom’s club meeting…it can’t hurt too much can it?