The introverted mind is like an amusement park. It is a deep sea of imagination and creativity. Ever since I can remember, I found peace in being alone. As a kid, I could sit for hours in my room just thinking. Every bout of solitude would take me on an adventure – one that had no restrictions and no judgment.
My mother used to worry. She did not understand why I did not desire to be outside playing with the neighborhood kids all the time. After all, the social norm is focused on an extroverted lifestyle, so why wouldn’t a mother want her child functioning as part of the norm?
Children spend the majority of their time around other children. The average school day begins at 8:00A and ends at 3:00P. The entire day is spent in a classroom with at least 25 other people, often working in groups. Even “breaks” are additional social ventures…..tons of kids gathering in the cafeteria followed by the same plethora released to the playground to “unwind.” The amount of energy this requires of an introvert is indescribable. I remember wanting nothing more than solitude at the close of these exhausting school days. Nothing sounded better than curling up with my favorite book – alone in my room. Seemed perfectly normal to me….Until –
I realized that most kids wanted MORE interaction after school. The majority of kids in my neighborhood wanted to drop off their backpacks and hit the streets for play time! This always seemed like such a daunting task to me even though it was what I thought I was supposed to do. I often found my way out of it (faking sick was an easy go to), but many times I just ran with the pack to avoid being different. There were periods of my life when I chalked up this secret difference to just being shy. There were other periods when I thought I was just downright strange. With time, I learned how to play the extrovert game while finding ways to sneak in my ever-so desired quiet time. 2-years ago, I googled the word introvert. I had sneaking suspicions that I was one, but had worked so hard to become socially normal, that I really wasn’t sure. The book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts – by Susan Cain; came up so I bought it (oh the power of Amazon). What a game changer this book was for me. Susan Cain hit every nail on every head. Suspicions be gone….I am an introvert.
My son is 11-years young and I watch his introverted nature unfold with a sense of dignity. He has the same need to retreat as I did when I was his age. With a grateful heart I am fully accepting that this is a beautiful innate quality that will take him on inward journeys to places only he can go.
Is he still considered slightly out of the cultural norm? Maybe according to some. But studies show that an estimated 1/3 of the U.S. population is introverted. Just because we live in a culture that promotes constant social interaction as the norm, doesn’t mean it feels like the norm for everybody. There is something very freeing in this simple fact that we introverts are not alone.
I can’t say that my old cultural imbedded fears don’t pop up from time to time when it comes to my son. Every now and then a worrisome thought crosses my mind…Should he be doing what the masses do? Does he feel out of place? It doesn’t take me long to realize however, that his solitude is intentional. I find comfort in the realization that he is more than OK. He sees the world through his very own lenses and has everything it takes to be happy….right inside that magical amusement park of his mind. We talk about introversion all the time. I encourage him to do the things that make him happy, rather than running with the pack. He loves to read. He loves to write. He loves to dream. His though process runs deeper and more expansive than anyone I know.
I’m not only content with my own introverted nature, I am now grateful. I have the gift to deeply connect with someone just like me. We read together. We write together. We dream together. And now, we run together. It is on these runs that I get a glimpse of that deep, expansive thought process of his as he opens up to someone who can relate. And when we are done sharing our creative worlds, we run quietly…. side by side, each enjoying our own magical amusement park.