Introversion: my “Quiet Revolution”

introvert[This is an article I submitted to Susan Cain’s “Quiet Revolution” campaign]

I grew up a shy, introverted kid.  I had a handful of friends, but was generally a loner.  I still remember a seemingly damning remark by my Grade 6 teacher on my report:

“Alan needs to be more outgoing.”

Oh, how I would have loved to be one of those outgoing, popular, centre-of-the-room people – they seemed to be the “winners”!  I tried to be one, but failed dismally.  I resigned myself to being “uncool”, to being a “nerd”.  I used to say (and still do), “Whoever said your school days are the happiest days of your life must be one miserable adult!”

In my first year of university, I met a wild-haired hippy-type (needless to say, he approached and engaged with me), who excitedly told me his story of a spectacular spiritual experience at a “youth camp”.  He asked me some penetrating questions about my personal faith (which was exposed as sadly lacking) which prompted me to begin my own spiritual journey.  As a result, I also had a profound experience – but mine was alone in the privacy of my home!

Although lights had come on spiritually, socially, I was still pretty disconnected.  (My wife and I met because we were hiding in the same corner of a hall!)  But changes were afoot.

Our faith drew us into community and then into leadership.  We found ourselves more and more “up front”, taking up leadership and “pastoral” roles.  Now when I tell people that I’m naturally introverted (psychometric tests still confirm that), they are usually surprised.

I’ve learned that introversion does not mean that I belong in the back row or back room.  I am now “at home being up front”!  It does mean that I expend more energy than extroverts do when I greet, call, or visit a stranger – so I need time to “recharge” in quiet.

My “quiet revolution” has been to break free of the restricting stereotypes that society often places on introverts – to be true to who I am, yet to engage and impact society.  This introvert now says to the world:

“Bring it on!”

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