I’m standing in line at Strange Brew in South Austin last week, reading the board and trying to choose a sandwich to go with my latte. I’m looking forward to settling down for a few hours of research and catching up on paperwork. Before I’m ready, the barista calls me, never standing still as he flits between the register and the myriad other jobs he’s doing behind the counter. Immediately caught up in the speed of his energy, I panic a little bit, totally forget the sandwich, order my latte and sit down. I’ll get my stuff set up, sit for a bit while I re-group, and then go back to stand in line for a second time to order my sandwich with a little more time to think.
Not too long ago, this interaction would have stirred up so much embarrassment and discomfort, I probably would have taken my latte and left.
Introverts often get some hard knocks in our world. The concept is widely misunderstood (shy is the last thing that I am), and it’s often said that our world is set up for extroverts. Introverts have a harder time making snap decisions and like to process what they say before they say it. With all of our technology, it seems like the world is just spinning faster and faster, and that can be a difficult way for an introvert to exist. In fact, when we feel a little out of step with the visible world, it can sometimes make us think they’re something wrong with us. But what are some of the wonderful things about being a person who likes to slow things down a bit?
Introverted people have the ability to foster deeply intimate and meaningful connections with other people. Generally not interested in small talk, your introverted friends or partners will probably want to know more about your dreams and deepest beliefs than they will want to hear about your lunch that day. Introverted people are also really great listeners, partly because they like to take time to formulate their responses intentionally, so you’ll have plenty of room to speak.
Introverted people are pretty happy to be left alone with their own thoughts, and as a result, they usually have a good knowledge of their boundaries and the things they like. If you put in the time to get to know your introvert, chances are you’ll get rich authenticity in return.
The introvert is also often a beautifully creative soul. When someone likes to spend a lot of time with their thoughts, their thoughts have the space and time to grow abstract, hypothetical, and fantastical. If you give an introverted person space and help them to feel safe when sharing with you, they’ll reward you with detailed and interesting musings about the world that can make you see things in a whole new light.
Like all other things, introversion looks different in each individual, and each of us might appreciate different aspects of being introverted, or see introversion differently. I’m happy to get to share with you some of my favorite responses from people when I asked them about their favorite parts of introversion.
“Well, they certainly don’t smother me!”
“My favorite thing about being an introvert is enjoying and embracing time spent alone…solo wine and dance parties forever!”
“I’m an introvert… and so I’m rarely bored.”
“When you get to know someone who is introverted, it’s wonderful. It’s like they shared a special secret with you, that not everyone knows.”
How do you walk through the world? If you’re feeling a little out of step, well… you know what to do!