I used to think I was an extrovert. I had a lot of friends at school, in my neighborhood, and later at college. Things changed when I finished college and started working. In the workplace, I still made friends who loved me for who I am, and I was happy interacting with just them. But as my years of experience increased, I was expected to interact with a lot of peers and managers and to give PowerPoint presentations in front of a bunch of people. That’s when I started feeling “the fear”—the fear of facing the world of extroverts. Even today, I very often still hold that fear.
The family I joined after marriage (an arranged marriage) is completely different from the one I had already (my own parents, siblings, cousins, and friends). Time and again, I find it difficult to adjust to the new family. Yes, I said adjust because I try to change myself a lot, losing myself in the process again and again. The new family is just a family of four: me, my husband, and in-laws. But they can talk for hours among themselves. Imagine four people in a room where everybody— except you—TALKS. It is a terrible feeling that only few can empathize with. My husband and I share a wonderful relationship, but others simply don’t understand that I talk to him freely only because I am comfortable with him, that I am an introvert and can talk only to a select few, and that not talking is not a crime/defect/disease and has nothing to do with one’s character.
As a person who has been frequently admired and praised for her patience, empathetic nature, and not having a backbiting character, I feel sick to see people dislike me because I don’t interact easily with them. And in turn, it makes me dislike them. This is NOT ME; this is not what I want to identify myself with.
I wonder if I can carry a disclaimer with me every time I give presentations or talk with people, saying: “I am an introvert. I can interact only so much, and I am OK with that.” That way, people will understand me, and I will no longer have to have this uncomfortable feeling when I am not talking. Instead, I can concentrate on what I can do in this world to prove myself.
I am feeling great and relieved after sharing this. But I am sure the feelings around my introversion will crop up again. I pray to God not to make me devoid of the introversion but rather to give me the strength and courage to handle it.
Thank you very much to Susan Cain and to Anjali, a Quiet Revolutionary whose own story inspired me to share mine.
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