Everybody loves extroverts!
In any crowd, my friend Babalwa is the centre around which the conversation spins. She doesn’t bring the party; she is the party. As soon as she enters the room, everyone’s attention is directed at this one-woman-wonder, her dimpled cheeks and her perfect pearly white smile, confident and cool.
Everyone feels cool when they’re around her. In the next ten minutes you know she’ll have posted 10 selfies on Instagram, gained 50 followers on Twitter and added every human she meets as a friend on Facebook.
Is that how people describe you? Well, you’re probably an extrovert!
When you walk into a room, you’re looking for the nearest corner and plotting the quickest route there. You’re steering away from the crowd, not hurling yourself into the thick of it. You’d rather sip on your drink alone for a little while and get a feel of the vibe. Sometimes ‘a little while’ turns into the whole night and if you’re completely honest, four hours in your mind palace with your favourite drink is your idea of a great party.
Welcome to the life of an introvert.
It doesn’t matter how much you try to be like the superstar Babalwa, you will never be her. You hate the thought of people constantly demanding your attention. You don’t initiate conversation because you find chitchat pointless. Inevitably, people will call you shy, quiet and antisocial. Maybe even cold. And part of the reason why you hang back is because you’re secretly insecure about your personality and afraid of falling short of people’s expectations.
There’s no doubt that the world’s idea of a ‘cool’, ‘happy’, ‘friendly’ or ‘nice’ person is largely defined by what someone with an extroverted personality is like. If you tend towards a more introverted way of doing things people think you’re ‘moody’, ‘quiet’ and worst of all- ‘shy’.
Your introverted friend has probably never told you this, but they feel a lot of pressure to be super outgoing, people hugging extroverts and the thought of trying to keep that up is exhausting.
In her book, Susan Cain talks about how introverts live in an extroverted world and it’s true.
Introverts may not seek attention but they do want acknowledgment and recognition. They may say ‘Meh.’, ‘Ugh.’ and ‘I just want to die right now.’ a thousand times in a day but they don’t really mean it. What they want more than anything from you is free chocolate- lots of it.
In a world that’s against them, they need to hear you say these things – from an acceptable distance of course, respect their personal space!
1. ‘You’re deep, I love how you cut through all the superficiality and get to the root of things.’
People try to build community with 140 characters and are content with meaningless conversations about Bonang Matheba’s new boyfriend, deep and meaningful engagement is rare and refreshing.
2. ‘Thank you for being authentic. I feel like I can be myself around you.’
The reason why people say introverts have horrible social skills is because they’re not very good at playing pretend. Most of us are very superficial- we smile even if you’re bored; we nod even though you’re not listening. When introverts are themselves they free everyone else up to be themselves too.
3. ‘You have an awesome sense of humour,LOL!’
Behind the deadpan, zombie expression on her face, your introverted buddy is funnier than Kevin Hart and Tisha Campbell in the eighth episode of Season Two of Real Husbands of Hollywood.
4.‘OMW, you’re really smart, it’s amazing!’
Most of my introverted friends love reading, learning and gathering information about everything. Want to know how to spell onomatopoeia? Ask the introvert. Are you trying to remember what the first line in the Great Gatsby is? Trust the introvert to know. Did you know that dogs were actually created by people? Well, now you do because the introvert told you.
5. ‘I love how awkward you are. It gives me great pleasure
to bask in the light
of your reflected awkwardness.’
For an introvert, the only thing worse than getting stuck between elevator doors as they close is getting stuck in an elevator with a complete stranger. Should you look at the person?
If you look at the person they might try to talk to you. And that means that you actually have to say something back. The awkwardness of introverts and their propensity for getting embarrassed is so cute!
6. ‘I admire your ability to step back, observe and understand. It’s powerful.’
My friend Wendy has this one waxed. When she worked for a church we were both a part of in Grahamstown, she had the ability to connect with and bring in people who were hanging out on the fringe. Her strength was being able to step back, observe and understand people around her.
7. ‘You’re a great listener.’
Very often, after having poured your heart out to your introverted friend, they won’t say anything at all in response. Of course, it’s entirely possible that they got bored, left the conversation and went down a rabbit hole of their own thoughts. But more often than not, they’re taking the time to absorb and process what you’ve been saying. Sometimes what we need more than advice and an action plan is someone who will just sit there and listen.
8. ‘I really enjoy and value time spent with you, it means a lot to me.’
Introverts thrive on solitude, their time is very precious and if they choose to spend it with you, consider yourself special!
When you understand how introverts relate to people, hanging out with them is awesome. You’re not worried about running out of things to talk about because long silences aren’t awkward to them. When you need someone to just be with, they can be that person because they respect your personal space.
10. ‘The thoughtful things you say and do for me make me feel very loved by you.’
People who tend towards introversion are deliberate and intentional in their relationships. I know a guy who sent the girl he liked a rose and a note every day for a week before he asked her to be his girlfriend. In each note he wrote about what he loved about her – I mean, what girl can say no to that?
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11. ‘I love you just the way you are.’
Introverts may not capture you with the flashy, attention-grabbing spark of a shooting star but they have the persistent, long-lasting light of a morning star. Their power doesn’t lie in spontaneity or big personalities, but in their very unique way of doing things.
Related: Boo, He’s Not Shy
Having read this, some of you might be confused about whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert. No one falls neatly into those categories; some tend more towards one than the other and others are a mix of both. The aim is not place labels on people but to love who we’ve been created to be and to love others as much.
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©Zola Ndlovu 2014 No reblogging or republishing without permission of the author. realmukoko[at]gmail[dot]com