My shy extrovert

I am an introvert. I am not a hermit–I love being with people, doing fun things, going places, and having a good time. But after all that, I need to go home and have a bit of silence.

For example, whenever our family goes to a museum, the zoo, or a party, I am always totally exhausted afterwards. The high level of stimulation, noise, and commotion around me wears me out.

With four kids, there is definitely a range of personalities in our home. And the way the introvert/extrovert “thing” manifests itself is fascinating to me. I always thought that being an introvert meant someone was shy. After all, that’s how it was for me. But not in our family!

One of our daughters is absolutely an introvert. This child can occupy herself for hours at a time, perfectly contently. Not that she often has the opportunity to be alone for hours at a time. She gets home from school and loves to spend a half an hour reading before she’s ready to play with her sisters. She gets irritated if it is too noisy in the house, and doesn’t like the music up too loud.

This daughter has no problem making friends, but she tends to have fewer, deeper friendships. She loves to have playdates that last hours and hours, but with just one good buddy. All these things seem, to me, to be the markers of a classic introvert.

But shy, she is not. This girl is not timid or frightened of much of anything. She will jump right in to a new activity she thinks looks exciting. She loves to perform in front of people, and is always willing to give her opinion on any issue, whether in or outside of class.

Our other two daughters are pretty much the opposite. They absolutely HATE being alone. It is almost physically painful to them if there is nobody to play with. They get grumpy over the weekend or during a school break if they haven’t had enough contact with their friends. They love loud noises, loud music, and lots of commotion.

Both of these girls have piles of friends. When they enter their classroom, kids yell their names and run over to them. They have trouble naming their “best” friend, as they have so many close friends. And nothing would be better for them than having a big group playdate with ten of their closest buddies. Extroverts, much?

But plop these girls into a new situation, and they freeze right up. They have a hard time saying “hi” to adults when they are greeted. One of them took over two months to get used to her preschool class when she was three. It wasn’t until the middle of December that she actually started playing with the other children. These two girls are quite shy!

It amazes me the way kids’ personalities, from the same family, can differ so greatly. We have yet to see what little Joel will be like. But the great thing is, no matter what personality type a child has, we are all valuable in this world. There is a place for the introvert and the extrovert! I love seeing how my children each learn to grow in their own unique and beautiful way.

Are you an introvert or extrovert?.Author Susan Cain explores how introverts can be powerful in a world where being an extrovert is highly valued. Join From Left to Write on January 19 as we discuss Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. We’ll also be chatting live with Susan Cain at 1PM Eastern on January 26. As a member of From Left to Write, I received a free copy of the book to facilitate my participation in this discussion. All opinions are my own.

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