Growing up an Introvert


As a teenager I struggled to make friends.  We moved a few times, I was typically awkward and uncomfortable with myself.  So the act of connecting with others was terribly difficult, but I tried and tried.  Once I shared with my mom the struggles I was having in my social life.  I was distraught and confused.  Her response, “Well, honey.  You are socially retarded, just like your ole mother.”

That statement sums up a lot of my early years and my relationship with my mom.  1–I was raised by a mom who was full of self deprecation, and quite open about it.  2–My mother saw a lot of herself in me and often pointed out the negative qualities I possessed.  3–My own mother called me “socially retarded”?!

My mother’s statement, at a time when I felt vulnerable, has haunted me for the last 20 years.  It wasn’t until recently that I started to understand and slowly began to appreciate my unique self.  What my mother saw as a very negative personality trait, that I had inherited from her, was indeed introversion.

I have frequently fluctuated between feeling like I needed to change myself and needing to feel comfortable and confident in who I am.  I am grateful that there has been a recent surge of knowledge around what introversion really is.  Introversion doesn’t mean “socially awkward” or as my mother would say “socially retarded” but something completely different.  I am reading the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking and I find it very insightful and liberating.  I can be quiet and that’s okay.  I can prefer to only go hang out with one friend at a time, instead of a large group, and that’s okay.  I can carve out alone time for myself, and that’s okay.  There is nothing wrong with me or my preferences to interact in smaller social situations.  In fact there is a lot of strength in my introversion.  I’m very observant and in tune with the emotions and intricacies of those I interact with.  I am very introspective and can learn a lot about others just by watching them.  I have been given the gift of introversion.  And it is a beautiful gift.

Some other insightful reads on introversion, that have helped me on my journey:

6 Survival Strategies for the Introverted Mom

16 Outrageously Successful Introverts

Introverts Homeschooling Introverts

The Sound of Silence: Parenting as an Introvert

Introversion: Using Solitude to Shine in the Handmade World