Saturday, October 5, 2013

How to flourish as an introvert

this image was from a french fabric softener ad
Why didn't someone fill me in 50 years ago? Because they were
too busy telling me to go play outside with the other 999 children,
or go join that team for gym, and the excruciating camp
holiday as well. "Why don't you join in like all the other little girls??"

Because I'd rather trim my toenails with an angle grinder. Hello parents?
Did you notice I wasn't fitting in? Did you see me
in the playground, gathering acorns and chatting to trees instead
of joining the rest of the running, chasing, screaming,
arm waving kids?

Clearly not, with the wisdom gained from hindsight and
therapy, my parents' heads were up their bums,
immersed in their own private tragedy. No time for anyone else's.
My tragedy was being shy and introverted.
Not any more! A tragedy, that is. It's how I flourish.

Flourishing is schlepping about the house in pajamas, lost in
my rich, internal universe. Other people are wonderful in small doses,
but without quiet alone time, I get agitated and anxious.

Thank god! I thought I was crazy - even got meds for it,
but I'm still introverted because that's the way the good Lord
made me. Who wants to change? Not me, any more.

When I decided to get meds journal page

Just like Audrey Hepburn Albert Einstein, Ghandi, Rosa Parks,
Eleanor Roosevelt and Steve Wozniak, I am an introvert.
guess what, one in three people are too! We are everywhere,
just not as loud as the extroverts.

Our brains actually shrink if we get too much outside input. It's true.
We don't need a lot of external kerfuffle because there's already
heaps happening inside. It's why I feel like I've lost a pint of
blood at some places.

We shut down if there is too much talking and noise going on.
A little bit of Dopamine goes a long way for us. We even have
special pathways in our heads that take longer - presumably to
stop us from saying something stupid, but that bit hasn't
worked for me. Anyway, there is proof.

 Introverts are gifted, think deeper, and love spending time on
 their own, in pajamas, talking to Bruce who is a gifted listener.

So I've discovered how to flourish.
Declining the customary gathering-of-the-gals, my reason
was I was in my blanket fort. No one said a word. They can
spot a good Friday night activity when they see one.
Flourishing is giving permission to be in a blanket fort
with cups of hot chocolate if that's what I need.

Better still I've learned how to take my blanket fort with me,
and I'm happy to share:

1. In places with too much stimulation and random people like
train stations, earphones are your friend. Preferably plugged into
something so you plug the world out. IPhone twiddling was
invented for you.

2. At parties, strike up a rivetting conversation with the house pet.
Or child. Take your knitting. Somehow knitting makes it OK
not to talk to anyone. Or serve the food, that way you can keep
moving, right out of the door if necessary.

3. At large conventions, either drink lots so you can cope,
or sit near the door for fast exits. If it's dorm sleeping,
consider a tent outside, or write a private note to the organizer
explaining you have a disability and require a single room.
I've actually done this. The organizer spends the entire 3
days trying to find out what your disability is without
having to ask you.

4. Relish the fact you are a fantastic listener. Develop talk inducing
noises, like, "uh huh, and then what happened? and really??"

5. Wear odd clothes or makeup so that only other freaks will
sit at your table. It worked in high school and it works now.

5. Stick up this sign.

The cool blanket fort images can be found here on my pinterest board.
The rest are from previous journals.


  1. Totally me!
    So cosy thinking, ahh:)

  2. Yep the serving the food, drinking lots, wangling a single room, ree-ally ... am sticking up the sign NOW! Thank YOU Grrl

  3. oh my god. i love this.
    thank you.

  4. oh gosh you summed it up beautifully...

  5. Tick, tick, tick, interesting read........I knew there was nothing wrong with me!.......

  6. You expressed it perfectly....❤

  7. F**K, that is SOOO me, it's ridiculously stupid!!! And I STILL do the insane clothing at the age of 49!!!!!
    I want the tent in the next field to yours. Please...!!

  8. just had a lightbulb moment at 44!!! so this is why people say i'm a hermit and i build blanket forts!!!

  9. Gosh, I need to read this one today, thank you! Not for me, I love other people's company, large crowds are fine although I'm happy on my own too! My daughter is on the autistic spectrum, very intelligent but very insular and only really wants to be on her own. I worry she's not developing friendships, she much prefers to be on her own. Maybe she'll be perfectly ok on her own. Just because that's not ok for me, it doesn't mean it will be ok for her. I'm not sure. But thanks for letting me know it can be ok :) x

  10. The voice of reason. I love my own company and always will, I can't think of anything worse than being forced to 'make friends' or mingle in large crowds etc, just to fit in. I am my own person and no one is going change me x

  11. I love your post, I spent my whole childhood believing that shyness was something that needs curing but the truth is that it's fine to want to stay at home and drink your hot chocolate. I am a home educator and the first question anyone asks is 'what about socializing?' I don't ask how school children cope when they don't want to socialise. As it happens I have two extrovert children who are always socializing and one introvert who is most often happier in his own company and has the most wonderful imagination. So hip hip for introverts :)

  12. Wishing I could come and stay in and talk to Bruce to XXX

    1. Ms Hazel, I adore your blog -s! Yes Bruce has his own blanket fort, we could have tea in there..

  13. I'm presuming you've read Quiet by Susan Cain. As I watched Susan's TED talk I was thinking yes, yes, yes and why didn't someone explain it to me before I went to boarding school. Now I know why I hated it. There were just too many kids avoiding quiet time at all costs and doing their best to fill in the gaps with chatter. As lilipopo commented, shyness was something to be cured. I thoroughly enjoyed this post Grrl and had a good giggle at .... "The organizer spends the entire 3 days trying to find out what your disability is without having to ask you."

    1. Susan Cains book will arrive today, but her Ted talk is amazing. Yes I did do that at the art retreat!! I got some pretty strange looks but kept my sanity.

  14. Obviously we belong to the same tribe.
    My mother left me alone with my books. She even supplied the books. It was the rest of the world that made me feel abnormal. Nowadays, I just don't care.

  15. I just wish I could learn to handle extroverts without becoming annoyed!

  16. Thank you! Yes, I am one, too. Moved from a country with lots of introverts to one with very few and always wondered why I was so different. Figured it out years ago and am quite happy with it.

  17. Oh my goodness you just described ME!!! how weird to suddenly realise you are not alone, i have always talked to trees and animals and small people.... anyone vaguely unnormal and i'll be their friend! Its totally enlightening to know that its ok though...have been at work all day started at 7am just home at 4pm and put my jim jams on :-) poored a mahoosive glass of wine and sat down to read your post..I love that you are just you xx

  18. delightfully perfect and you are in good company...
    self described and my son as well...
    difference is now as a parent I understand
    and my parents too had their heads up their butts with their own issues.
    thanks for sharing ;)

  19. Wow - I love this post ... me to a tee. Some years ago a friend took me aside & said to me very seriously with her serious face on "dont you realise Julie, that if you keep turning down invitations, sooner or later, people with just stop asking you to things??" Oh my gosh I thought - thats exactly what I WANT to happen!!! Thanks for sharing this great post & I Love the images too. x0x

    1. I think I met that friend of yours, too!!!

  20. Oh my goodness, how I identify with this! I like people, love their history and stories, but I get anxious when they call unannounced or want to meet up EVERY week! I love having fun, music, laughing and even dancing, but too much stimulation wracks my whole system and causes me physical pain! There's a lot going on inside and I need adrenaline like a hole in the head. And with the dog I don't have to worry that I'm saying the wrong thing! Waving at you in your blanket fort from under my quilt!x

  21. Thank you. I've thought for some time that you are a soul sister.

  22. The "advance notice" thing just gets bigger and bigger for me. My home health care provider will only call the night before to say someone is coming. I do not do well with this and have to act as-if, as if my life depended on it, which it sort of does. Since my pajamas usually consist of (depending on the season) shorts and a tank top or sweatshirt, yes, I can stay in them all day. Today as the light has shifted so noticeably from summer to fall and the air is clear from Santa Ana winds I have been watching the palm fronds (not too windy right here), how they shiver in the sun and air. I had imaginary friends when quite young and made up elaborate back-stories and lives for dolls and stuffed animals (then for the rubber stamps I designed). Without quiet and my own company (and a son who operates the same way and is very respectful), well. You've helped me see anew why the universe rescued me (through illness and other things commonly thought unwelcome) from a life of too much doing and going and allowed me to be the contemplative that was my true nature. I am so happy for you to have learned all this and shared it with us, who may have forgotten or not quite known. Odd is the new beautiful. xo

    1. Indeed,
      it seems only now we are being recognised! Introvert pride!

      you may like to see Susan cain talk about introverts on her TED talk:

    2. second the TED talk, it's great. As is this post. x

  23. You expressed it so well. Re the noise thing it is totally unfair that in the workplace people are allowed to jam the air with music and loud conversation yet I am 'rude' when I ask them to turn it down or - God forbid- OFF. I have learnt to tell them that it stresses me out, if I am at my wits end.

  24. as I place my left hand on a stack of magazines, I say out loud in front of my 2 pup boyz...."I" Marlene aka mIzZ bEe am proud to bEe an Introvert!"...

    I was only given the 3 degree, when I didn't want to out with folks "what's your problem<why not<who is that you don't want to be around, and sooo on...." then the whispers would begin, that's why she's alone, I can go on but I won't, some comments are just down right mean... I'm a firm believer that you can be by yourself and not be alone, or be with a group of folks and feel all a lone...

    thank you for writing what so many of us want to say... and soooo much that you said hit the nail on the head for me... well the pup boyz "toby mcbee & wheezer" are calling it a night... thanks again ;O)

    1. apologize for the typos above... I hit submit before proof reading...

  25. I recognise elements of myself in this..... thanks for sharing.

  26. Love this. It has taken me so long to embrace my introversion, even with parents who never had a problem with it (probably because they're both introverts!).

  27. Yay! That was such a fab post, hitting the nail right on the always x

  28. amen & thank you! When my parents would send me out to play, I'd go to the library. They called my bedroom, my cave.

  29. Waving and smiling from me blanket fort,

  30. Thank you! I'm an introvert too, and it always irritates me the way extroverts describe introversion as a problem - but introverts are self sufficient, isn't that to be applauded? I don't have too much of a problem with being an introvert at work (as an analyst) because most of my colleagues are too, phew. And when required I've learnt to put on a social front; just requires lots of recovery time later. As a parent I have a bit of a balancing act though - one of my kids is a classic introvert and the other a classic extrovert!

  31. My authentic self....that's what you have described. The one who felt happiest with her horse, best friend Sam. The one who loves to be in her beautiful garden...with my birds, dogs....trees. You make me feel it is ok to just be...myself, in solitude....a quiet happy. I need it like I need oxygen. Bless you, thank timely.

  32. As soon as I stem the flow tears brought on by the laughter of understanding exactly where you're coming from/are/will be , I'll stand and applaude...well, once I get home and am in the studio. Can't do it midst a very crowded Starbucks. Brava and amen!!!

  33. Me too, wish I'd known as a kid, but glad to know lots about introversion now. Just blogged about it too, why a whole day of silence is bliss... :-)


  34. I'm so glad we are finally realising that 'one size' does NOT fit all.
    Though the human heart only has a certain range of feelings and possibilities we all have more of one thing or another.
    Like a pie graph.
    It's very troubling to be made to do stuff that's hard for you.
    For instance I can talk to anyone but can't deal with heights and 'dangerous' things.
    How depressing that our parents tried to push you into things you couldn't do.
    Sorry I'm so late to the party.

  35. Meant to be YOUR parents....
    mine pretty much let me do what I wanted except when my mother thought I was embarrassing.....

  36. Love this post! Might I link to it from my blog in a future post on introversion? My blog is at: Thanks one way or the other!

  37. I just found your blog and I love this post. Luckily for me I have one parent whose an introvert and an artist so as a child I was allowed to inhabit my dream world to my hearts content at home, we lived on an island and there were only a handful of people living there who were mostly recluses so it was an ideal childhood being able to roam the beach and the bush and live in an imaginary world most of the time. It was at school where the troubles were for me.

  38. Music to my ears! and I just found you as well.


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