I am a ‘trained-extroverted’ introvert – SURPRISE!
If I said, my mind is in an overdrive, you won’t understand what MY mind being in an overdrive really means.
I am a ‘trained extroverted’ introvert. Wondering what that means? Let me explain!
I am an introvert by my natural state of mind and being. If you left me in a room, with enough food, books, videos or just internet and did not check on me for 30 days, I will be absolutely fine. You’ll return to find me content, safe and healthy. In ideal world, I’d never speak with anyone and yet be happy with my life. This is not because I dislike people or hate interacting, this is just because by my natural state of being, I am content being with myself with absolute no interaction with the outside world.
Most who know me as a chirpy, outgoing, interactive guy who is life-of-the-party you’ll outright call me out ‘on my lie’, as YOU would think the facts of my personality are. I won’t blame you for not trusting me and having an image of me as a fearless extrovert who loves to network. Most of you won’t be able to imagine me being quiet, by myself and more importantly being happy about being left to my devices for a very long time – with zero interaction. I know people who’d claim, ‘he’ll go crazy if he could not talk for 5 minutes!’
But the fact is, I ‘trained’ myself to become an extrovert. And I trained myself so well, my ex-spouse who was also an introvert, accused me of forcing them to become an extrovert too, while the fact is I knew their struggle and I knew their journey. I am one person who knows, I never wanted them to be anything different from who they were. But I often did speak about how the world treats us natural introverts differently, and as if there is something seriously wrong with us.
Even though time and again it has been proved that introvert people can be very successful leaders, yet it is a fact that they need to ‘extrovert-ize’ themselves to prove their ability. They do most of their real work in their introvert style, but time and again they have to come out and prove that they are capable of speaking, boasting and engaging with people. They don’t hate it, they just don’t have any inner desire to engage, if they were not asked to.
Let me give you three names that will stun you when you realize they are extreme introverts –
Barack Obama – yes sir, Mr. President of the United States is an introvert. Very much so.
Hillary Rodham Clinton – ah huh, the powerhouse of fiery speeches, Clinton is an introvert.
Bill Gates – one of the richest entrepreneurs in modern history, Mr. Gates is also an introvert.
The list is very long and I could go on for hours but underlying message is introvert individuals can lead, can engage and can empower others. But in this extrovert-addicted, controlled and driven world, even the most introvert leader has to force themselves to come out in the open, and ‘train’ themselves to be an extrovert time and again to prove they can lead. Fact is, they are already leading, doing and proving their worth but in this extroversion biased world, we introvert will not be noticed, valued and credited if we remained 100% quiet as we often like to be.
But when you force an introvert to prove their worth by becoming an extrovert, you undermine them further and you insult their intelligence and demean their very existence. I would claim that when you ignore us you discriminate against us but the fact is, we prefer you don’t put us under the spotlight and leave us be. That said, you can leave us be, yet acknowledge our existence and our contribution to the society because we are doing our part and we are doing it very diligently. We just claim it as out loud and proud as you’d like us to.
No denying, we like to be recognized for our contribution too but we like it low-key, gentle and simple. Loud, crowded and with spotlights is not our preferred way of things. But, in this world of extroverts, we have to put up with that and learn to deal with it. Sometimes it drives us crazy, gets on our nerves and makes us really nervous but as I said, we do not have much choice. Unless we ‘extrovert-ize’ ourselves, to you we mean nothing and we are not worth enough for you to give us the time of the day.
Hence, many of us introverts are forced to ‘train-extrovert’ themselves and mind you we do a pretty good job of it, but if you ask us, we are not overly thrilled about it. Yes, we feel no special achievement or conquering any fear ‘feeling’ because there is no desire or need for an introvert to do it the extrovert way. In your eyes we do, but fact of the matter is – we do not. It is just you who think we do need to! Like most introverts, I recognized this anticipated ‘normality’ much earlier in my life and one fine day (yes I remember the date but that’s personal) I decided to give to you what you seek most from me – the FAKE extroversion and pseudo outgoing persona.
No, we don’t become a fake person or a fraud, we just force ourselves to behave a certain way that we are not, so we do not lose the opportunities to be valued for what we are capable of contributing to the society we share with the extrovert majority.
I was 15 when I ‘trained-extroverted’ myself.
It was rough. It was exhausting, it still is. But over the years I have learnt to deal with it and find my space and solitude without having to beg for it. However, I will remind you all again, that we introvert like to be left alone, as much as we can be and unless you really truly need us to speak and interact. We are always around, watching, observing, learning, and most importantly contributing to your extrovert-majority world but trust me there is nothing more relaxing and calming for us that just to be left to our own devices and let us create what we can for your ‘normal’ world in a quiet space of our own.
So please understand, if someone tells you they are an introvert, they are not lying, and they are not shy or they don’t dislike you. They are just an introvert who likes to talk less, listen more and deliver but still very much have the ability to engage, interact, and be visible when time requires them to be. We, the introvert, do not force you to get quiet and be like us, and all I ask is, You, the extrovert also respect us for the way we are and don’t force us to be loud and be like you.
I promise we will talk, when we must. After all, I am a speaker and I talk, but outside the keynote speaking session, I like to grab a book, a coffee, a pair of earphones and sit in a corner all by myself, quietly reading, tapping my feet away without making an eye contact with anyone. Again, I am not ignoring you, I am just dealing with the overdrive of my mind that only I experience and you cannot begin to understand.
So let’s make a deal, you talk all you want, but don’t expect us to nod, respond and keep constant eye contact unless it is crucial for us to do so. In return, we’ll never ask to be quiet and sit in a corner with a cuppa coffee, a book and a pair of earphones.
Do we have a deal?
PS: Yes I made up the word extrovert-ize – just like you make up the fact that we are avoiding you!