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: