Some time back one of our relatives remarked “You are the quiet people.” I think it was an interesting way of reframing our tendency at times to be more than just introverted. It’s not shyness and it’s not antisocial. I am not exactly sure how to label it. But I have a high need to withdraw and be introspective a lot of the time.
I might say “I am just not a morning person” because it seems I require a lot of time in the morning to come alive. But I’m not sure that is totally accurate, either. It feels more like I am a computer that downloaded software updates during the night and when I wake up all that data has to install before I can become operational. And during that time my need for quiet is intense.
Nan is a bit different. She might sleep later than me, but she tends to wake up pretty much “on”. But I know she needs blocks of quiet, too. Sometimes they coincide with mine and sometimes not. When they don’t there can be some friction.
This need for quiet can be interpreted as “unfriendliness” or arrogance or superiority sometimes. But that is not the truth. It is more a case of competing needs. Extroverts want to process out loud. Interaction energizes them – like coffee does for me – a quiet cup of coffee.
How about you? Are you one of the quiet people, too?
If you are I might suggest over-communicating your need for quiet or alone time to those around you. Don’t wait until you start to feel annoyed or irritated. It may seem better to try to endure, but a kind request will probably be more effective.
If you are not one of the quiet people, you will need to observe those with whom you interact. Are they starting to withdraw even though you have not said anything offensive or controversial? You might want to check out if they are becoming overwhelmed or overloaded by the conversation. Again, a kind inquiry rather than taking offense or doing the all too prevalent mind reading or interpreting will serve you better.
Some extroverts can’t fathom how painful it is for a shy introvert to be the center of attention. And some introverts can’t imagine why anyone would want to get up in front of a group or stand out.
Again, I don’t necessarily think this just comes down to extroversion vs. introversion. I think there are variations of temperament that need to be factored in as well. For example, I really take pleasure in getting lost in a book. And I know some extroverts that are just like me.
The best understanding would probably be to say that we exist along a continuum that represents both extremes, from super quiet to super expressive. And some of us probably move along that continuum pretty fluidly. I have heard people at church declare adamantly to me “No way are you an introvert.”
But then again, they haven’t seen me at home.