How to woo an introvert

If I'm not in the corner petting cats, I'm the one behind the camera, or doing dishes, or possibly rearranging your bookshelf. 
There are a lot of misconceptions about introverts- we are shy, awkward, incapable of speaking in public, unable to meet people, etc., etc. While those characteristics may be true of some introverts, they are also shared by...well, people. I feel the need to point out that being shy is not the same as being an introvert. They get lumped together when in fact they are two very different attributes: You can be an introvert and not be shy or you can be shy and not be an introvert. 
The biggest difference between introverts and extroverts is how they absorb energy, or replenish their interior well. Introverts need time alone to recharge, but extroverts feed off of other people's energy. Put an introvert in a room with a bunch of people for four hours and they will be crawling out the door trying to get away by the end. Put an extrovert in that same room and they will be charged up and ready to go and wondering why everyone is leaving. 
According to the Meyer's Briggs test and I'm an INFJ. I'm like the unicorn of introverts. When I determined I was an introvert (which means I am creative, empathatic and highly intuitive) it made me own those traits. I stopped trying to be what society generally expected and lo and behold I found my happiness. 
As an introvert I have:
  • Presented at Ignite Chicago and Potluck! A Smorgasbord of Ideas.
  • Sung on stage at the Park West thanks to Fear Experiment
  • Launched a business (which requires talking to people)
  • Taught classes
  • Attended conferences- even though I would have preferred to hide in my hotel room. 
  • Met people at networking events who have become friends and allies, even though they were once strangers (stranger danger!). 
  • Put my very personal experiences to paper and set them free for the world to read. 
At the end of the day we are just people. Feel free to come up to me and chat. In fact, I would probably be grateful. If by any chance I excuse myself from the conversation, don't be offended, I've just had enough talking.
Friends joke that when I decide I am leaving, I say goodbye and I am out the door. I'm driving away while people are still standing around saying goodbye. I've hit my people limit and I need to be by myself. 
I tend to not like small talk and I can be rudely direct. I want to get to know you and what makes you tick. I don't care what the weather is like, but I do want to know what book you are reading and what your passion is. 
I don't make plans on Sunday because I need one people free day. During the week I teach classes, go to networking events and see friends. By the time Sunday rolls around I am done in. I've found the best thing is to give myself permission to stay in my jammies. If you call me I'll answer the phone, maybe. 
I adore my extrovert friends and I am grateful to have them in my life. I just need to spend time with them in small doses. 
I'm an introvert and I'm ok. 

Originally published 4/29/14

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