“I am introvert, I am not Quiet, I Speak Differently”
In times past, people were expected to be outgoing, a bit noisy and lively and easy to engage in conversations. The notion is people are supposed to strike a conversation easily and not look like they are giving others a cold shoulder. With that came a lot of pressure to make introvert people act this way against their nature. Extrovert was considered important trait for thriving in the world. Growing up I never really thought of myself being introvert, I never knew the word it was beyond my comprehension growing up in an environment where the popular language was vernacular – Shona. All I remember was that whenever people came to visit, after a while they would say, “mwana wenyu akanyarara” or “akanyarara sezita rake", literally translated “your child is quiet” and “he is quiet like his name”. It mostly bothered me and I didn’t know how to respond or what to make of it, I grew up getting used to such comments. I also remember that my mother always stood up for me, she believed that her son was quiet and hence people would try to take advantage of that situation for their selfish gain hence when I think of my mom, I think of a hero who would take on anyone that dared cross her son’s path in a wrong way. Being a strong woman she was, I learnt to debate within myself before confiding in her a particular situation. Even to this day, there are some life events that I would rather keep to myself because if I tell her, she would definitely take exception and make her mind known or confront someone. As I grew older, I learnt to stand for myself but not in a vocal way. I believe most people make misconceptions about introverted people some of which are as follows:
They are Quiet hence Easy to ConMost people look at introverts as people who are easy to take advantage of, when you use their stuff they will not shout at you or demand it back, when you owe them it’s easy to never payback and tell them excuse after excuse.
The downside to this is that introverts look forgiving, the Jesus people and can give the other cheek anytime without consequence. This is true to some extent, introverts are good at the strike rule. Inside they just say, fine you did it once, now you did it twice and third time you face judgment. The judgment is rarely communicated to you, you will know the next time you come and say borrow me $100 my child is sick. No matter how genuine the cause, you will not get the $100 but be told you had your chance and blew it. So if you are in the habit of borrowing and never paying back you are maybe one strike from being blacklisted for life.
They Are Quiet hence Must be Forced to TalkIntroverts are not necessarily people who do not talk; it’s only that they do not engage in idle chatter. Most people like friends, family, teachers, lovers et al usually fall into the trap of “let me help them to talk” or rather force them to talk.
The downside is that in the end you will be avoided, you might temporarily win and get them talking but in the long run you will find that each time you try to talk to them they are busy reading a book, doing a work assignment or anything to make you not fit into their schedule. It’s worse to force an introvert into a conversation then show that your attention is elsewhere, by the time you want to get back to the conversation you will find no audience. Introverts talk a lot but it has to be quality conversations on issues that matter, talk about Politics, Business, Science or any worthy subjects and you are guaranteed a conversation for days with a lot of factual information.
They are forgiving so You Can Get Away with AnythingIt’s easy to take introvert people’s feelings for granted, you can lie so they will not speak about it, and you can hurl abusive statements at them and will never risk uproar because they will coil into their quiet world. Because they rarely look attentive it’s easy to pass a slur on them hoping they will never hear it anyway.
If an introvert ask “what was that” or “what did you say” after you pass a slur/mumble on them the temptation is to respond by saying “nothing”. It’s not that you have not been heard, asking is just a way to say I heard it so better resist the temptation to lie and apologise. When taken for granted in a relationship, an introvert will drop you by the head and make it look like you have been given a soft landing. When I came of age, I knew one thing I could do with aplomb was dumping a lover. Most never understood why and often ask “why did you not warn me I was riding roughshod over your feelings”. In our world actions & words are rehearsed in the mind before being executed, so we choose to believe it’s the same for everyone else, actions and words must be considered for consequences before being acted. That is the yardstick. If a relationship where emotions are involved is cut off, never expect a rebound even though friendly contact can be maintained, do not confuse the friendliness that you stand a second chance, it rarely ever comes.
They are Quiet hence are ThoughtlessMost people think that since introverts rarely express themselves in speech then nothing much is going in their heads. The opposite is actually true. Introverts can seize a thought for and dissect it indepth. When they talk about it, chances are it has been considerably given thought.
Introverts express themselves better in writing, if one is not able to write then chances are they will look handicapped. Most times an introvert will write something and will revise it 2 or 3 times before sharing carefully choosing words for their rashness and eliminating mistakes. I remember in my teens I was writing love poems then called “lyrics” for my cousins, they were powerful words carefully selected to mesmerise the reader and sort of pierce the heart and induce fondness. I remember my first love letter was when I was about 11 years old, there was a rose tree at home, I picked the flowers and nicely set them in small reed basket wrote a small letter with the choicest words, I remember one of the older sisters asking if my brother Chester had written that for me. I said that’s all me, my ratings in their eyes hit the sky.
Later in life I would use this skill to my advantage in school and work. Sometimes you do not pass well because you had a thousand facts but because you presented your work neatly and using choice words that will convey the message that this is not a layman even though the points are few. I remember when I became a workers’ committee representative earning the title of Secretary at some insurance company. I would use this skill to write compelling case for employer to improve pay and working conditions, meetings with the employer because torturous for management. But the best came when representing retrenched employees at Ministry of Labour, employer with 2 qualified Lawyers and HR Manager, myself with 2 other workers’ representatives. I had spent the previous day with bad flue on a computer putting together a water tight case for the employees’ cause, the employer presented his case, I followed with my case typed out but most of it was stuck in my head after being rehearsed many times, I was half awake from the flue, all I remember when I was done the ministry officials were all smiles almost standing up to give an applause but they were supposed to show impartiality. They would later ask why the employer was bent on losing an employee of my calibre.
Being introvert is a curse in that the world around us is mostly made of noise and words fly out of mouths faster than they are thought of, the quiet tag means you will have to face a barrage of abuse with the world trying to twist you, remake you and force you to be what they want you to be, you almost become a Swedish sex doll in their sight, expected to dance the tune as if you were never made with feelings and a conscience. But beyond the curse, being introvert is a blessing, you harness the power within often becoming a person who can deliver compelling speeches, write enthralling books, stories, blogs, reports et al, even Facebook status updates, comments come with a lot of praise and likes because it’s all in the power of the thoughts. Behind the quiet people is the most analytical minds with a lot of inventiveness. What would it take to lose being introvert? I never imagine being stripped of this part of me, I think I would rather be dead than lose this part of me, but before it gets to that I’m sure I would rather lose the people who would demand that I lose this important part of being me.