When I was much younger, during my adolescence and teen ages, I always knew I loved spending time alone with myself.
While other kids would run wild, play in the sand and make a lot of wild noise, I would stay alone in the house doing one odd thing or the other, but I would certainly be doing them alone.
I always had eyes for little things, paying attention, observing little things, taking in the tiniest information anyone else would usually not see.
Whenever I was alone, I would hunt down a house fly, smack it just enough so it got weak and then I'd drop it right close to the entrance of an ant cave and watch the ensuing tussle. I can remember how excited I usually was watching the ant do their thing on the housefly, it is like playing your best video game or watching your best movies..lol. First, the ant that encounters the housefly first, runs at an accelerated speed back into their burrow to call on the other workers and the big guys that would help dismember the unlucky housefly.
I initiated these ant/fly tussle more time than I could remember, soon I knew all the ant burrows everywhere around the house and I came to understand ant behaviour. It was fun, it usually was, and enlightening too, it was like a practical of your best science subject.
Because of how every other kid around me was always loud, playful and expressive, I came to think myself as odd. I hated attending kids parties, I hated doing what every other kid did, I hated noise and rowdiness. I was cool, calm and collected and I wasn't going to be part of all that craziness.
All I wanted to do was spend time with myself while observing nature and it's wonders.
Fast forward to when going to parties became a cool thing for teenagers, you know house parties and all that, and then I saw myself really struggling to cope, to cope with the pressure of fitting in, the pressure of being “normal”, the pressure of not being the odd one out.
The more I tried to fit in, the more miserable I became because I just couldn't do it, it felt impossible for me to do yet it seemed important that I did.
This became a psychological and emotional tussle for me, a tussle between being myself and fitting in, a tussle between my real personality and popular culture and it didn't help that I was constantly being reminded that I was too quiet and always all by myself. I was always encouraged to mingle more, play more with my mates, be more expressive, and be like every other kid.
I was fighting a lost battle, I became disillusioned and frustrated. I actually didn't know or understand what was going on but gradually I withdrew into my shell because I just couldn't make that transition, I couldn't because it was impossible. I started disliking my personality, I hated my life, I began to think that something was really wrong with me, I felt I wasn't good enough...I developed an inferiority complex.
You Are Who You Are
Now, during these battles between what I am and what society expects me to be, I never knew the word INTROVERT nor what it connotes. If I had known, I would have at least gone to war prepared. But luckily, as destiny would have it I got to learn through the word introvert that there was actually nothing wrong with me, this enlightenment came quick enough to save me from losing myself.
I got to understand the different personality traits peculiar to introverts, extroverts and ambiverts and it dawned on me that I wasn't odd at all, I was just different, different in a good kind of way because there were others like me too. Imagine the wonders such knowledge would have done for the confidence of a budding teenager who was obviously conflicted about their personality.
When I learned all I needed to learn about my personality, I began to consciously and actively work on my self-confidence, on my perception of things. I needed work my way back, re-educate myself if you will.
When I realised that it was okay to want to be alone almost all the time, it was ok to not want to go out, to hang out, I started enjoying and appreciating my life again, I started absorbing that peace and quiet again and I would laugh at anyone who calls me shy or timid.
Now, this is my story while growing up, I may have been able to get hold of the situation before any real damage was done to my psyche or my personality but lots of kids or even adults aren't and won't be so lucky.
This is an issue now because obviously, the society views introverts as shy, timid and abnormal while extroverts are celebrated, so while growing up, lots of kids are pressured by their parents and their peers to be more up and about, against their very own nature.
You are forced to speak, even when you know deep down that you have nothing of value to say. You are constantly told to go play with the other kids when all you want to do is stay indoors and study, you are constantly barraged with questions and looks of pity. Lol
Introverts are like sponges, they soak up whatever energy their environment is giving out, now imagine soaking up noise, small talks, chitchats and music and traffic noise. Phew! My head actually hurts imagining that.
I read a book called QUIET by Susan Cain and I felt alive, I felt empowered and my confidence in myself spiked. The book was such a powerful read and enlightenment, while all so relatable. This book will help you understand yourself as an introvert, what the world views as odd and flaw in personality, you would come to understand as unique and a superpower.
I used to be so tensed and anxious whenever I was in a group of more than three people. I usually felt this way because I had been coerced into thinking that I always had to contribute, engage and express myself whenever I find myself in such environment, even when it is not in my nature to do so.
Now, whenever I find myself in a group of more than 5 people, I do less talking, more smiling (I got a killer smile) more listening and observing because those are my strong points.
Now when I find myself within such group, I feel so calm, so calculated, so powerful because I usually think I am the only one who knows what the hell is going on, because I am the only one paying attention.
Even to this day, my significant other sometimes tell me to go out more often, be out and about, make more friends. I usually ask why though? I have a tiny pool of friends which is by my design; I have a good network of acquaintances, I have everything I need to function efficiently as an adult human, why do I need to go out and make more friends?
· When you observe and realise the traits of introversion in your kids, don’t force them to be like other kids, help them be more of themselves, talk to them, understand them, help them grow, don’t kill their genius by trying to force them to be loud and expressive, that is not who they are.
· When a kid is forced to be like other kids, made to feel like he isn't normal, like he isnt adequate, he tends to withdraw into his shell and that becomes a long term psychological problem, of which not everybody is equipped to come out from.
· There is nothing wrong with introverts, neither are extroverts the model personality.
· Introverts are grounded, emotionally deeply rooted people. They are usually the best in things they invest their time into, be it good or bad, because they spend their times, learning, observing and internalizing.