Insecurity or Introversion?

June 24, 2011 § 5 Comments

If I haven’t already given it away, I am a classic introvert (and loved this post that @kyliewrites recently called attention to – it’s spot on for me). I can play the extrovert for a bit – But then by god if I don’t get a nap, you may never want to speak with me again! I find the term ‘introvert’ to be a helpful descriptor, even if it sometimes holds unpleasant connotations – which I’ve only recently begun to separate from the introversion in my mind. I’ve begun to notice that there are actually situations where interacting comes naturally to me, where curiosity and warmth flow easily into conversation, and where I don’t feel leave feeling so sapped. Unfortunately, there is the counter to these situations, a disconnection and awkwardness that I always associated with being introverted. Now, I see this as Insecurity – a feeling – distinguishable from this word – Introverted – that I sometimes use to describe myself. Distinguishable from this word, and from myself. Realizing this felt like an epiphany of epic proportions.

Insecurity <> Introversion.

Now it feels a bit like a forehead *smack*! Of course! But it seems useful to acknowledge and to share this, because now I see this awkwardness as a separate thing entirely. And that feels FREEING. I don’t feel doomed to social discomfort or at a loss as to how to mitigate it. I see this insecurity as introversion not well managed, not introversion itself. Introversion isn’t a barrier to human connection – Insecurity IS.

I’ve begun to notice now what insecurity feels like. Physically I mean. And the thoughts that tend to accompany it. The tightness around my face, grinding teeth, and judging thoughts are surefire signs I’m on my way down the insecurity path – by the time my chest and throat begin to tighten, I may as well go home. Noticing and making these distinctions greatly increases my odds of being able to remedy the situation before it shows up externally. Introverted me is still interested in you (maybe TOO interested for polite party talk – it doesn’t seem socially acceptable to talk about what’s lighting you up right now or what is your most favorite place on earth. It should be. I want to know). On the other hand, Insecure me is rather afraid of you. The fear equates to protective behavior – which may translate as awkward, overeager, insensitive, disinterested or even unkind. Wow. That’s plenty incentive to oust the insecurity.

I’m finding that the times when I connect easily are those when I am fully present, fully myself. No surprise, I find that although my daily practices (yoga, writing, breathing, observing) don’t guarantee easier and more enjoyable interactions, they do help set supportive conditions. I don’t want to be an extrovert. I’ve outgrown that longing – at least for now. I am working to be the most present and secure self I can be. I’m starting to think that my life (the life I’m dreaming) depends on it.

Wishing you security, calm presence, and inspiring interactions.

§ 5 Responses to Insecurity or Introversion?

  • Rhiannon says:

    Great thoughts here. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately myself – if my introversion were a neutral thing, then what would be causing all the problems around it?

    • Mel says:

      Yes, I love this – if introversion were a neutral thing. Clearly I haven’t always looked at it that way and I have placed some blame on being an introvert (& on myself since I identify so strongly with the term). I see it differently now, but the pattern around it will take more time to let go of, i think. Thank you Rhiannon! Have a wonderful weekend.

  • Elizabeth says:

    Yes! It was so helpful to me when I realized that being introverted doesn’t mean that I’m shy (because I always thought I couldn’t be introverted because I don’t always have a problem chatting with strangers) but that I recharge by spending time alone. Oh my goodness. So freeing. I don’t know why it was so freeing, exactly, except maybe that introverted gets a bad rap and so it was hard to allow myself the conditions necessary to support myself? Maybe.

    • Mel says:

      I think that’s a good theory – it seems to be true for me, I certainly gave it an (unfair) bad rap. And there was never any question of my being an introvert, no matter how I tried to hide it 😉 I do need human connection and interaction though and it’s so nice to begin to see that I can have this, and have what I need too. Yay for fellow introverts, yay for adequate recharge time and YAY for freedom!

      Thank you Elizabeth, I’m happy to find a fellow introvert in you.

  • Heather says:

    Something important was clarified for me – I don’t remember who said it. Introversion isn’t necessarily the fact of not interacting easily or not wanting to behave as we envision extroverts. It’s defined by the time needed to recover from those interactions. Ah yes, exactly what someone else said! And yes, I think it was freeing for me, too, to realize this.

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