So, thanks to Miranda Hart, I have finally realised what has been wrong with me all these years. I have diagnosed myself as an introvert. I’ve probably come across as shy, rude or anti-social to many but thanks to her recent Facebook post, I’ve come to accept that I am in fact introverted and this is as much a part of my DNA as my freckles, miniature nails or wavy hair.
Growing up, I was a quiet child. I waited until I was spoken to. I waited until somebody phoned me. I waited until somebody knocked on my door. As an only child, I didn’t match the stereotype. I didn’t demand attention. I wouldn’t interrupt conversations. I couldn’t wait to flee crowded rooms. Instead, I was happy in my own company. I would talk instead to my toys. I would instead travel beyond my bedroom through books. I would instead speak aloud my thoughts by writing them down on paper. And I was content in this world. But the world was destined to grow bigger, I would therefore become even smaller and my withdrawn nature would be accentuated further.
A recurring comment at my school parents’ evenings was my reluctance to contribute answers in class. Teachers could not understand how someone who could articulate themselves so well on paper would never voluntarily speak aloud during lessons. It remained an unexplained mystery, but I now put it down to my introverted nature. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. I don’t think it was the fear of getting it wrong (like that was going to happen!) or not wanting to appear keen or enthusiastic. I just didn’t want to be noticed. And things didn’t improve much once I started university. This could have been the perfect opportunity to rebrand myself, start again, reinvent a new me. But I guess that went against my DNA. If I remember rightly, I managed to sit through a year’s worth of history seminars without uttering a single word. But all coursework was submitted on time and easily met the criteria. And a good grade was more important to me than people knowing my name.
Unfortunately, it appears Sam and Abigail take after me. Joel is evidently an extrovert. I’m waiting for the summer to write a blog about him because I’ll need the full six weeks just to cover the first year of his life! I wonder daily if I fetched home the wrong baby from hospital; maybe when I was leaving the day room, in my sleep deprived, drug addled haze, I picked the wrong portable cot and left behind my introverted infant, dozing oblivious, whilst pushing the attention seeking Joel back to the ward. But apparently he’s my double so I guess I’m stuck with him!
But I digress. It was exactly three years ago that I realised Sam was like me. It wasn’t me who noticed, but, as a friend pointed out his behavioural traits, everything became clearer. When with a group of friends, he waits at the back. When friends are talking, he waits to be addressed. When plans are being made, he waits to be invited. Abigail is similar in many ways, although she somehow finds the strength to sing and dance on stage in front of hundreds of people. However, this holiday, I’ve had to practically force her to invite friends over. She is not the one to make the first move. In the end, I had to do the inviting so that I would have to take the full, brutal brunt of any rejection, then let her down gently afterwards. As it was, there was no rejection. They came. They laughed. They had fun. But, needless to say, we will go through the whole rigmarole again as the introvert in her will not dare to openly communicate her ideas or thoughts.
I guess my introverted nature is why I’m struggling in my job as a teacher. I am finding it harder and harder to stand in front of 30 children and explain,instruct, reprimand, entertain, comfort, inform, amuse – the list goes on – and if another adult walks in to the room, I feel myself start to freeze from within, as if Elsa has brandished me with her icy, cold hand. I react to my growing sense of discomfort with a feeble attempt at humour. Or I concoct a reason why the invading imposter has to leave the room. Or I just stop teaching altogether. A career change is occupying my thoughts on a daily basis. Just like The Marrog by R.L Scriven, (a favourite poem of mine at primary school and I’ve only just appreciated today why that is) I yearn to sit at a desk ‘at the back of the class and nobody knows but nobody knows’.
So in a nutshell, don’t wait to be invited anywhere by me. Don’t take it personally, but I’m happy in my own company. On the other hand, don’t be upset if I reject your invitation. Because the security of my living room is much stronger and more comforting than my desire to go out and drink myself into oblivion so I can act like an extrovert.
My name is Lindsay and I’m an introvert.