I have just come across this fantastic TED talk by Susan Cain. She extols the virtues of an introverted life in a world that seems to favour extroverts – those outgoing, confident, “I-know-where-I-am-going” people. I fall far more firmly in the “haven’t-a-clue-but-I-like-thinking-about-it” bracket.
I am an introvert. It took me quite a few years to realise this, for I am also pretty sociable and love being around people. I am certain, however, of my introvert tendencies as I crave and cherish time on my own. Time to think, to read, to write, to process. Time to be. Without this time, I feel out of sorts and get a bid moody (as my husband will tell you!).
I am not writing today to claim that “introverts are better”. No, of course not. Rather this talk has made me reflect on the importance of being yourself – wherever you fall on the introvert-extrovert scale. And if being yourself means being on your own – that is ok. In fact, it is more than ok, it is good.
For the world needs you to be yourself – to bring all that you are and have, to live in your “element”, to create and lead in the ways only you can do – in order to make our world a richer and better place.
I sometimes find myself wishing I’d been created a bit differently – a bit less introverted and reflective, a bit less “angsty”, a bit more “normal!”. I look at others and wish I was more like them – a bit thinner, a bit more thoughtful/productive/capable/confident, a bit less “me” and a bit more “you”. I imagine life as “someone else” and think it would surely be better than today. When I feel “up”, these thoughts rarely bother me, and, if they do, I find it easy to brush them aside. When I am down, they can haunt me, follow me round for days, lodging themselves in my sometimes-fragile mind and refusing to go away. Maybe this is the curse of the reflective introvert.
Like Susan Cain, I love words. I have always loved books, always adored reading and getting lost in a book. Like her, I hadn’t seriously considered that I could become a writer until more recently (and my various career attempts until this point have been far less successful than her years as a Wall Street lawyer!). I still have days where I feel it could never happen – who would ever pay me to write? Why would they want to? How can I ever make money out of the randomness of thoughts in my oft-slightly-screwy brain?!! But I know that this is when I feel most alive, most “me”.
I absolutely love writing this blog. I love the people it has brought me into contact with. I love the ways it has challenged me to be more open, vulnerable and transparent (even when it hurts). I love it – this blog might not pay the bills, but it helps me stay connected, creative and much more sane than I would otherwise be! I love the power of words – and spending time on my own helps me to find my words. In the words of Susan Cain – “solitude is often a crucial ingredient for creativity”.
How do you find your words? Make sure you don’t deprive yourself of these experiences – whether you require solitude or crowds, whether on your own or with others. Don’t try to be someone you are not – it doesn’t work (I can tell you that one from experience!). Be yourself. And find your words – for the world needs to hear them.