As a child I was shy. It was a label with negative connotations. I wished as a child that I was more extrovert, more of a talker, more social. Over the years, I have learned to stop wishing that.
Images on my vision board were an annual attempt to motivate myself to be more extrovert; to attend networking events, enjoy talking on the telephone, get out and mix more with others in the real world. Year after year I failed to mark these goals as achieved.
Fast forward to becoming a mother. I started understanding my three children. In the process, I began to understand myself better. I came to realize that achieving the kind of extroverted goals I was setting required a complete personality change.
Putting me in a room full of strangers and saying, “go mingle” feels like a nightmare command. Even in a room of family and friends I’m still not wholly comfortable. I love being surrounded by loved ones, but I am not at ease in a large group. In fact, I’m drained by groups that I am supposed to interact with.
I struggle to make small talk. It demands a huge amount of energy from me. I need time to think and small talk with strangers doesn’t allow me that time. The effort of interacting, of thinking on the spot is a mind-boggling effort for me. The reality is that I’m way out of my comfort zone talking to strangers. I haven’t found a successful way to change that so far.
But I have found a way to accept my limitations, accept my introvert nature and accept who I am.
Part of becoming a mother is learning to know and accept yourself. Motherhood is holding a mirror up to yourself. I cannot expect my children to accept and love the way they are if I don’t show them that example.
Motherhood has taught me I’m not flawed. The fact is that I am an introvert. It’s not a negative thing. And because I recognize that now, and accept how and who I am, I can pass that message on to my sons in a positive way.
I can tell my sons with confidence that it’s okay to be an introvert. It’s okay to need time in your room alone, even if we have company.
It’s okay not to want to tell your story, to share your tale from the rooftops.
It’s okay to think before you speak, to reflect on things before you utter them.
It’s okay to be quiet.
It’s more than okay to be an introvert.
I am an introvert. My children are introverts. It doesn’t need to change. We don’t need to change.
I will continue to raise my children to understand that the world needs introverts, just like it needs extroverts.
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