To the quiet, boring girl in class

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I got this message from “quiet” Kate a few days ago:

Dear Matt,

So sorry for bugging you when I know you get SO many emails everyday! My mom loves your blog, she told me and my dad about it. She reads your new entries out loud almost every day at the dinner table! I bet you’re super creeped out now lol but don’t be. She’s not a crazy stalker. Well… she’s not crazy anyway lol. Anyway, after she told me about you I went and looked up your blogs. I love so many of them! I especially loved what you wrote about introverts. I don’t know if you remember it (this was a few months ago) but you stood up for introverts and said you are one yourself…. which was a surprise!

I’m writing to you because I’m very introverted also. I’m in tenth grade and I’ve been this way for as long as I remember. Everyone calls me “the quiet girl.” Even the few friends that I have will introduce me to other people by saying “Oh here’s Kate, she’s quiet.” I usually end up sitting in the back of the class and alone at lunch. People will come up to me pretending like they want to be friends but I think they really are just picking on me. They’ll say “why are you so quiet….. you’re so quiet all the time…. are you always this quiet…. blah blah…” I get called boring a lot but it’s not like I don’t have any interests. I like to read and I like to think I’m pretty artistic. I just don’t like to talk all the time.

Sorry for complaining but I get so sick of it sometimes! I don’t know why people can’t let me be however I am, you know? Like you said in your post, everyone is always telling me that I need to come out of my shell and “open up.” Some of my teachers tell me that I’m not going to get a job or anything when I graduate if I don’t stop being so shy and quiet. It’s gotten to the point where I hate going to school (it was at that point a long time ago lol). People look at me like a freak. And then when I do open up and say something or answer a question in class, everyone stares at me like “oh the quiet girl is talking.” It gives me a lot of anxiety. Sorry for ranting so much. I guess I should get to the point. So, you’re successful even though you’re an introvert. How did you overcome your introversion? How did you learn to be normal? I’m sorry for wasting your time but I really need someone to help me with this. Thank you for your time.


Kate (I don’t want to give my last name or anything because I thought you might want to respond on your blog for other people struggling with being introverted)


A tragic letter in many ways. Here’s my response:


Dear Kate,

You aren’t wasting my time.

My time is mine, your time is yours. The only person who can waste mine is me, and the only person who can waste yours is you. For instance, this morning I spent four minutes watching this video of a moose playing in a sprinkler.

The moose didn’t waste my time — I wasted it. And now you’ve watched it and wasted yours. You’re welcome.

Kate, you apologized more times in four paragraphs than I have in four years. The difference is that I’ve done many things wrong in four years, yet I’m just too stubborn and prideful to admit it. You, on the other hand, did NOTHING wrong in those four paragraphs. Nothing. Kate, never apologize for having an opinion. Never apologize for expressing your feelings. You aren’t bugging me or annoying me. Besides, even if I was bugged or annoyed, that would be my problem. Not yours.

You’re “ranting” because you have something to say. I bet that’s a shock to those presumptuous kids in your class. Imagine that: you have something to say. The truth is, most of them just want you to speak because your silence intimidates them. They don’t want to hear your ideas and your perspectives (or anyone else’s, besides their own), they just want noise. They want noise because we live in a culture that’s afraid of what will happen if everyone shuts up for long enough to formulate an original thought or two.

Quiet? You aren’t quiet.

When you need or want to communicate something, you communicate it — and effectively, I might add. Someone calling you “quiet” for only speaking when you have something to say is like them calling you “anorexic” for only eating when you’re hungry. This country is full of enough blathering loudmouths who drone on and on with pointless banalities nobody cares to hear. Just because you’re purposeful with your speech doesn’t mean you’re “weird.” Let them wrestle each other in puddles of their own verbal vomit. You don’t want any part of that, and why would you?

Quick story:

A little while ago I found myself in a group of “talkative” people. I think the “conversation” started with one person complaining about their health problems. Then another person offered a competing complaint. Then another person submitted their own. Then another. Then another. Each participant offered no substantive response to the last person’s remarks. They simply grabbed the rhetorical spotlight with an unconvincing attempt at a transition, like, “Huh, yeah, well here’s what happened to ME…”

Next the “discussion” awkwardly jumped to a fascinating topic about how expensive it is to get your oil changed at Jiffy Lube.

I think they then gossiped about a mutual friend for a while, before leaping into a gab-session about a network TV show I’d never seen.

After 45 minutes, one of them turned to me with that infamous question you and I have both heard more times than we can count: “Why are you so QUIET?”

Uh, maybe because I’d rather be stabbed in the ear with a rusty butter knife than be subjected to one more minute of this tedious talkfest.

There are a thousand things wrong with the “why are you so quiet” question, but let’s concentrate on the fact that it’s rude and pushy. If the quiet person is quiet because of some kind of social anxiety (which wasn’t the case in my situation, I just have Stupid Babbling Anxiety) then how in God’s name could anyone find it appropriate to purposefully embarrass them by highlighting their self consciousness in front of everyone? How is the “quiet” person supposed to respond? Are they supposed to bark on command like a dog? Are they supposed to just suddenly dive into a conversation in which they are clearly either uncomfortable or uninterested? And whatever the reason for their “quietness,” are they actually supposed to share it with this person just because he or she was intrusive enough to ask?

“Oh, thanks for giving me the chance to justify myself to you! I was HOPING someone would shove me onto the stage and demand that I reveal the inner workings of my mind to all assembled!”

The only thing worse than the quiet question is the quiet observation; the “you’re so quiet” comments that you mentioned.

Kate, neither of us will ever understand the oblivious tastelessness of someone who’d walk up to a stranger and simply point out some face about their personal or physical composition. This happens so often, particularly in a school setting, that you’ll soon be tempted to respond to their observation with one of your own:

“You’re quiet!”

“Yes, and your face is oddly shaped!”

These people — the ones who label you, or demand that you justify your personality to them, or your “friends” who put you in a box and then introduce you to other people that way — don’t have pure intentions, for the most part. Many times, they are simply trying to “win.” Win what, you ask? I don’t really know. As you’ve no doubt noticed, the “social scene” at school isn’t really “social” at all.

It’s a competition. A game.

It’s a psychologically oppressive and emotionally violent Battle of Witlessness. You are unfairly seen as weak and submissive because you don’t run your mouth at warp-speed, so your peers step on you, hoping to elevate themselves in the process.

They call you quiet and boring just because you aren’t always making sounds with your mouth. But that doesn’t make you quiet. And boring? Hardly.

Your whole being stirs with concepts and notions that could change the world. The only people who are “boring” are the ones who think a person is boring just because she isn’t loud. I think you’re fascinating. I think you’ll get out there and do big things — HUGE things — with this life you’ve been given. Your mind is a vibrant and awesome place, brimming with thoughts, and ideas, and truth, and beauty.

You’re artistic? You like to read? I would have known that about you even if you hadn’t told me. You’re an introvert, after all. By definition, you love to learn, create, and think.

None of this makes you weird, and it doesn’t even have to make you “shy.” Shyness and introversion aren’t a packaged deal. Being shy means you have social anxiety. Being introverted means you are energized by being alone, or in small groups, where you can hear those wonderful thoughts spinning around in your head. You prefer intimate and meaningful communication over small talk. You’re more likely to have a limited collection of loyal friends than a large gaggle of friendly acquaintances. Sound familiar? That’s all it means to be an introvert, Kate.

Many times, the school system turns introverts into “shy people” by constructing a social environment where introverts are made to feel like freaks and outcasts. In other words, if you’re shy, that’s probably because everybody keeps calling you shy.

You see how this works? They erect the box around you, and before long that last wall is built and you’re trapped.

Or you feel trapped, anyway.

People don’t understand that introverts have minds that are constantly engaged. Maybe even a little too engaged, sometimes. For this reason, social interaction can be exhausting. We aren’t afraid of it, we just prefer to regulate it.

But here I am rambling on, and I haven’t even answered your questions. (Funny thing about us introverts: we can go on for hours if the subject is interesting to us.)

So, how do you overcome your introversion? How do you learn to be normal?

You don’t. And there is your first marvel, that you don’t (to paraphrase John Proctor, played in the film by an introverted Daniel Day Lewis).

Introversion is not to be overcome. Please don’t try. I beg you. Don’t try. I mean, where would we be if societies in the past had employed our modern strategy of treating introversion as a character defect? I can tell you we might not have been blessed with the historical contributions of noted introverts like Einstein, Newton, Yeats, Proust, Shakespeare, Orwell, Edison, Plato, Mother Teresa, and Ghandi. In fact, many (if not most) of humanity’s greatest inventors, engineers, creators, thinkers, writers, artists and revolutionaries were and are introverts — like you.

Ah, but they’re a boring bunch, aren’t they?

Look, you are a human being, you are flawed, there are surely things about you that do need to change. We all have habits and temptations that we must overcome.

But introversion isn’t one of them.

It isn’t a disease or a weakness. It’s a strength. Seriously, Kate, a strength. Your mind works differently, you see the world differently, you interact differently, and that is a magnificent thing. Your differences make you indispensable.

Soon, you’ll leave school and you’ll find yourself standing in the wilderness of the “real world.” You’ll discover, unfortunately, that a lot of the bad things about school are still present in this wilderness — we’ve still got bullies out here, and jerks, and cliques, and fads, and social ladder climbers, and all the rest of it.

But we also have freedom. We have the liberty to fully become ourselves, and to use our minds and our personalities, rather than suppress them.

Don’t destroy yourself just to be more acceptable to the Peer Collective.

And don’t worry about being normal.

You aren’t boring, but normal is.

Let them call you quiet. Pretty soon, you’ll be climbing mountains and they’ll still be down at the base, talking about the weather.

Go on with your introverted self, Kate.

Thanks for writing.




Note to the people accusing me of “attacking” or “labeling” extroverts: I’m not, I didn’t, and I don’t. In fact, you’ll notice that I never even used to word “extrovert” in this post. Not once. When I go after people who blabber or gossip or bully introverts, I’m simply an solely talking about people who blabber or gossip or bully introverts. If you don’t, then I’m not talking about you. I never said all extroverts do this. I never even insinuated it.

Extroverts are wonderful people also. I’m married to an extrovert.

Finally, I’m not encouraging Kate to embrace her social anxiety. I’m encouraging her to embrace her introversion, and in so doing, overcome her social anxiety. I’ve been able to strike this balance, but it took time. I’m an introvert, yet I enjoy public speaking and do it regularly. I spoke on the air for a living for eight years. I like being on stage in front of large crowds talking about something. I just despise small talk and I’m not very good at it.


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507 Responses to To the quiet, boring girl in class

  1. Kate says:

    This post it very enlightening. I am mostly extroverted now, but when I was young I was a really shy as a kid. In middle school I decided that I would force myself to change because I thought being shy was a disease. I thought that I wasn’t as much of a person just because I preferred the company of a good book over the company of my peers. I thought I was weird because my hands often held a paintbrush instead of a cellphone. When I decided to “change myself”, I got involved with the wrong crowd. I forced myself to pretend to be someone I was not for years just to be popular. Now as a junior in high school, I deeply regret pursuing a personality that was not my own. I am now naturally talkative and pretty extroverted, but not all the time. I have really bad social anxiety, but the only difference now is my method of hiding it. Now when I am insecure, instead of covering my face in a book, I laugh, smile and make gestures with my hands as I tell silly stories to my friends. I just went from one extreme to the other and neither of them get rid of social anxiety. Here’s my advice to anyone who feels like they are weird or not normal enough; NEVER TRY TO CHANGE WHO YOU ARE TO BECOME ACCEPTED. you are awesome… let me repeat that… YOU ARE AWESOME! God made every person to be different. from the shape of our noses to the way we see the world, we are beautifully diverse; that is what makes humanity so BEAUTIFUL.

  2. Reblogged this on lilsquirrel4ever Version 2.0 and commented:
    I wish this blog was around when I was my “shy”, introverted self in high school, constantly being prodded and told I would never amount to much. Well, I’m still alive and kicking! And it’s so true–everyone has something to say if they are passionate about the topic. Love this post.

  3. Mairi says:

    I’m an extrovert… but most of my friends are introverts… that’s cos I’m an extrovert who loves to listen to those whose story doesn’t just bubble out of them (nothing wrong with that either!), I’m curious, I find people fascinating… because everyone has a story… thanks for posting this… I have 3 kids… two are extroverts, one is an introvert… I personally don’t “get” introversion, because I’ve never personally experienced it, so it’s helpful to have someone give a bit more of an insight. I also have a dad who’s a total introvert yet he has spent his whole adult life lecturing and preaching and caring for people. Kate, please keep being who you are! And Matt, though it seemed obvious to me anyway, thanks for saying you love extroverts too… sometimes we feel the same way as Kate but from the reverse side… no one really wants to hear how the extrovert feels because they’ve “got it all together”… yeah, sure… In general human beings are crappy at really listening to each other. We need to do better.

  4. Rich Sobel says:

    love your response to her. I never liked small talk, either, and at 60+, still don’t do it. Better ways to waste my time.

  5. MC says:

    I had a very good boss who taught me a lot about being an introvert. We were bellman at a very large convention hotel. He told me that if anyone came inside a 6 foot circle around me I needed to engage them. If I did not and he saw it I would get one of the daily crappy jobs that kept me from earning tips. It was a struggle at first but it made a huge difference.

    Your comments on being on stage are completely true. I can give presentations in front of hundreds of people and own the room. I also need to be alone to recharge my batteries after those type of events.

    My wife knows me very well and she knows when I am in that zone that I just need to be alone with my thoughts, no matter what it looks like I am doing.

  6. Love this, as a former shy, introverted child who got picked on a lot! I was a sweet spirited child who got called a snob all the time because I didn’t talk much. I wish someone had told me it was okay being quiet. I always try to encourage quiet kids now because I know they have deep thoughts and want to be heard, when it’s important to be heard.

  7. Beth says:

    Kate (and Matt)…

    I, too, am introverted. I have three siblings who are all extroverts. Am I shy? Not on your life… as one of four, it was speak up or get run over. I’m not socially awkward and *can* be vivacious. I work in a job that requires me to be verbose. So why does it come as a shock when people learn I’m not just introverted but *hyper* introverted? (It’s a somewhat rhetorical question, but most people have no idea what introversion entails.) That’s right. Whenever I take personality tests and such, I score abnormally high as an introvert. I am an extreme.

    I leave work and turn “off,” meaning I ignore my phone and try not to speak with anyone for hours. I read copiously. I engage in activities that involve me, myself, and I. All so I can maintain my sanity.

    I hate crowds. Going to a club is my idea of torture (I could have all of our country’s deepest, darkest secrets and I’d fork them over in a heartbeat if someone promised to let me leave (or avoid altogether) a club!). I can count all of my friends on two hands (I’m a little older than you, Kate, but I make friends at a rate of about one every five years). I do well one-on-one or in very small groups. I light up like a Roman candle if I’m on the spot–something I will avoid at all cost!

    But I don’t apologize for any of this. First, I consider it part of my charm. 🙂 Second, yes I have a shell. And like a turtle, I carry it around with me wherever I go. I can duck inside whenever I need to. And should someone try to take it away, I’ll not respond well, I promise. It’s permanently attached… just like a turtle’s shell. So removing it is downright painful. Furthermore, it’s *my* shell. I own it and no one has the right to take it away. Or even try, for that matter. It’s no different for you… guard and protect your shell. It’s *your* shell, not the ignoramus who keeps trying to shove you out of it.

    Lastly, and I’m going to tell you this as a woman whose high school years weren’t the best… college and the years immediately following college were a boon for me. I made new friends who didn’t have any preconceived notions about how I should behave or how much I should talk because it was a clean slate. Shoot, it was a brand spankin’ NEW slate! Don’t get me wrong, I still keep up with four people from high school, but my nearest and dearest relationships are from college and the first couple of years thereafter. These men and women chose to love me and accept me for the very person I am and was designed to be. The person who says something when something needs saying. The person who thinks something to death before rendering an opinion. Further, these traits are valued and respected by my friends. And, I was a late bloomer. I didn’t really become comfortable with verbalizing my internal dialogue until my late twenties. Suddenly, I was funny to people… and not in the I’m-getting-laughed-at way. I was funny because I had cracked a funny joke inside my head and then let it out for the enjoyment of others. I became confident in my skills and ability to convey my thoughts and ideas.

    Kate, this will come to you in time, but never apologize for being the very person you were designed to be. It takes extroverts *and* introverts to make everything work in life. And you might be surprised to learn my closest friends are extroverts–we often joke that I’m not the instigator, but I’m the willing sidekick. Give yourself time and you might be surprised where you grow and develop relationally and in life. Also, give yourself permission to be yourself. And never apologize for it.

    In the words of my favorite high school teacher, “Always be yourself because those who matter will love you for who you are.” She was a brilliant English teacher my sophomore year–when I was struggling with many of the things you’re going through–and she’s still a wonderfully extroverted woman of character.

    Hang in there, Kate! And remember, you are the only one and only you.

    Beth… a self-proclaimed nerd, introvert, and all-around fantastic human being (notice I didn’t say, “humble”)

    • Humility is knowing who you are in Christ, and living it. Telling someone who you are, and knowing it intrinsically is not pride. Thinking you are better (or worse) than someone or anyone else, however…now THAT is pride. Stand tall, and confident, knowing you are who God made you to be. A royal diadem in His hand. Something special and unique…and no better or worse than anyone else. All have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God. All are created in His image. All are given grace and mercy. All are given the choice to accept His gift(s). Being able to see yourself as equal…with EVERYONE, that is humility. You are equal to the murderer in that you have sinned equally. Your sin is equally as vile as his, your thoughts many times also, though no one but God may ever know that. Being able to see yourself as equal with the president or king, they are no better than you, and you are no worse or better than them. You are a beautiful work of art, and a sinner. You are no better and no worse than anyone else, And if you think you are….well….I guess, news for you, huh? 🙂 And if you know who you are and are able to tell the tale knowing that you’re no better or worse than anyone else in the process, then guess what. 🙂 Humble you are.

      • Beth says:

        It’s funny, my humble crack was part tongue-in-cheek, but I appreciated your response immensely nonetheless. It took me years to reconcile that I am exactly who God designed me to be. That I am on purpose–His purpose. I’m not without flaws and I sin as much and as convincingly as the next person, but I’m still who I should be. And He uses my crazy quirks for His glory. 🙂

  8. Katie says:

    Excellent blog! Wow, I’m so glad I discovered this. You are a great writer with a very important perspective that needs to be shared. I find it interesting that you call yourself an introvert, despite being a public speaker and radio personality. The distinction between being an introvert and being shy is rather subtle. I find myself in the same situation: introverted and yet “up front” a lot. My shyness manifests itself in social settings, as I am never truly comfortable when I don’t have a clearly defined role. I end up being either too quiet or one of those blathering idiots you referred to; joining in on the gossip just to have something to say. I don’t have a lot of friends, but I have a lot of people in my life. I love to talk to people, but a have a hard time getting past the social awkwardness that often surrounds me. I keep trying to figure myself out as I seem to be a mass of oxymoronic attributes. A shy extrovert? An introverted chatty Kathy? Thank you for standing up for the introverted and supporting Kate. Although cliche, it is often true that still waters run deep. I’m sure she has a lot to say, she just doesn’t need to cast her pearls before swine.

  9. plaintextman says:

    Small talk is not as worthless as you think. I’d rather embrace and understand an aspect of humanity than reject it because it annoys me (and it did). At risk of stating the obvious: small talk is part of a deeper need to be heard and have friendly interaction with others, although not the best or an essential expression of that need. For me, once I got a grip on reading between the lines and into peoples’ minds, the subject of small talk went from “unnervingly pointless” to “quite fascinating”. I’ve met interesting friends, garnered useful information from strangers, and realised I should stay the heck away from doing business with a specific person long before it got painful, all through small talk. Heck, once or twice I even felt like I could relieve a little of my stress by complaining to a random person and having a small conversation about it. I even got some empathy from them. Or friendliness, at least. Either way I magically felt a little uplifted by the interaction.

  10. SeekingTruth says:

    A beautiful post by both Kate and Matt. One observation from my perspective. I am an introvert, but i don’t mind speaking in either large or small groups…as a matter of fact, my job demands it. However, I spent years trying to figure out why I would be exhausted after spending significant amounts of time in the company of groups, or why there were some times I would pass on fun social events to spend time reading, or going to bed early. Introversion is part of a continuum, and is really about how an individual gets their energy. As an introvert who is more toward the middle of the scale, it took me forever to learn my ‘alone time’ was not selfish, or anti-social, but absolutely necessary to recharge. I stopped apologizing for it, and also realize there are benefits to this so-called ‘affliction.’ I found the book, ‘The Introvert Advantage’ by Marti Olson Laney, particularly insightful.

  11. GuessWho? says:

    This is THE REPLY I was in search for. I keep getting called a ‘boring person’…and it’s especially traumatizing when it is on the first day of a new academic session…sets you wondering as to how you will pull through through the rest of the year…

    But, now I know, that this introversion which has for some reason been stereotyped as ”shy and boring” is my strength…and I thank you a great deal for helping me realize that.

    Good day 🙂

  12. CTA says:

    Quiet waters run deep.

    I am an introvert, but outgoing and funny and crazy with my few close friends. When people get to know me to the point I let some of those things show, they always say, “I never would have thought you would be so funny/have such a strong opinion/be so wordy/be silly.”

    Being an introvert is a strength, because it’s who God made you to be. Being an extrovert is a strength, because it’s who God made you to be. Learn to choose your friends wisely, regardless of which one you are. They should encourage and protect you in being who you were made to be.

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  14. Rebecca says:

    Thank you for this post, and your other posts, on introverts. I’m 32 years old, and only finally becoming comfortable with myself and the fact that I’m an introvert. Like you mentioned in this post, even while doing well in school, I had teachers who told me I’d never succeed until I began to speak up more. Amazingly, I managed to become a tax attorney at a large, reputable law firm – a perfect job for me since I can use my mind, think and evaluate (and hopefully solve!) problems. I never have been good with small talk, and I know that I just never will be – and that’s okay. I’ve got more interesting things to think about 🙂

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  16. Peter says:

    Interesting little note: This is my second time typing this because the school filter decided to devour it the first time.

    Matt, once again you hit the nail on the head. As a little kid I was always an extrovert but as the years went by I found myself to be more and more of an introvert. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I spent the first fourteen years of my life trying to please everyone else. I wanted nothing more than to fit in and would go to nearly any length to achieve that goal. I’m happy to say that I never did. The day finally came where I realized that the vast majority of people (not all of them by any means!) are shallow. I’m finishing tenth grade now at a new school where I know nobody and I’m perfectly okay with that. At the end of the day, I’m just happy to be alive because I realize that so many people will never have that chance, and many of those who do live in hunger and poverty and will never realize their true potential.

    I guess the point I’m trying to make is that nobody defines you but you. People will try again and again to tell you that you’re wrong but you have to hold on to what you truly value or else you’ll get crushed underfoot. It’s better to fight alone for something worthwhile than to assimilate with the rest of society and conform to the mindless droning of day to day life.

    Thank you Matt, I’m looking forward to your future posts.

  17. Denise says:

    I wish I could take a red pen to this page. I struggled over this sentence for a few minutes and finally figured out you are missing a T:

    Kate, neither of us will ever understand the oblivious tastelessness of someone who’d walk up to a stranger and simply point out some faceT about their personal or physical composition.

    Yeah, I realize I’m a stranger who’s pointing out something about the composition of this post. But just thought I’d say something in case someone else is wondering “what on earth is he saying?”.

  18. Ginny says:

    While I could ramble on for hours about this and my own personal struggles, triumphs & self realizations, I will simplify all of those thoughts and emotions about your post down to 3 simple words:
    Seriously. Thank You.

    To Kate- you are not alone. Unfortunately, you just have to wait until college (or later in life as was my case) to find like-minded people with whom you can sit for hours without saying a word & not once feel uncomfortable. And its THOSE friends who will be your true friends. And the people you spend time with that make you feel more alone and empty in 10 minutes than a whole day by yourself in complete solitude? Walk away. Trust me- hanging out with people who don’t respect you for the way you, which is to say, WHO you are, is simply not worth your time OR your self esteem. It’s taken me 30+ years and a nervous breakdown to learn that there is NOTHING wrong with finding comfort in silence or being “in my head”. Be you. (and pardon the language, but). And screw anybody who calls you out for it or makes you feel “less than” for it. Don’t get me wrong, you can’t always just “walk away”. It’s not always that easy. I’m 38 and STILL trying to explain to my own parents that my lack of communication doesn’t mean that I don’t love them- and they’re introverts as well!!!

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  21. Michelle says:

    I’m going to throw my 2 cents’ worth in here, but with 506 or so comments, I doubt it will matter. Though I didn’t see it, someone else may have already said these things, but, again, 506 comments is a lot to read.
    First, Kate & Matt, as a formerly shy extrovert, now surrounded by introverts, I have come to love and appreciate the introvert’s perspective. Matt is correct that shy and introvert are not one and the same. Shy is unsureness that typically fades with familiarity. Extroversion and introversion, however, are permanent personality types. There is a lot of misunderstanding between the two and I think Matt helped clear up a lot of the misconception of introverts on the part of many extroverts. However, I’d like to point out a misconception of extroverts on the part of introverts in order to help the understanding go both ways.
    Matt said, :”The truth is, most of them just want you to speak because your silence intimidates them. They don’t want to hear your ideas and your perspectives (or anyone else’s, besides their own), they just want noise.”
    This can be true. It sometimes is true. However, it is not always true. As the wife of one introvert, mother of another and close friend of a third, I will say this. My goal, as an extrovert, is to get to know as much as I can about others, as deep as I can. To extroverts, small talk is a way of doing this. Introverts don’t see how it can be, but just trust me; it is. As introverts don’t respond and also don’t initiate topics, we extroverts often try harder and harder by engaging topic after topic to try to learn what the introvert will engage about. When we can’t find a good subject, we will dissect one after another to see if the introvert will engage at some finer point on the topic or if it will click a connection to something they will direct the conversation toward. I have learned this is counter-productive as it simply overwhelms and shuts the introvert down, but it has taken many years to learn that. An introverts silence does reveal the insecurities of the extrovert, but often, it is the same insecurity that the extrovert’s pushing reveals int he introvert. We are all horribly insecure, really. I think as long as my introverts didn’t understand what my goal was, they thought I was just pushy, intrusive, and afraid of silence or of their answers too. I was floundering, trying to connect with people I love, all the while wondering why they were so quiet and if that meant they hated me. They have learned to help me a little and bring up conversation, even if it’s hard to do, and I have learned to give them a lot of silent space to do it in. Introverts seem to bond through proximity, while extroverts seem to bond through verbal communication. In order for the two types to bond well, there must be sacrifice on both sides to give each other words or silence as needed. As far as I can tell, the difficulty level is equal on both sides. Keep being who you are, sacrifice as needed, whether or not the other person gets it or sacrifices in return, try to humbly help them understand the difference and the difficulty, give it time to sink in, and let God provide the strength you need to endure us extroverts.

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