Dec 22, 2015

Introvert Role Models: We Don't Know Them

Dear readers,

I'd like to take a few moments to express my sincere gratitude - for your dedication to reading the Working Quietly blog, and for standing beside me on this writer's adventure to lay bare some parts of the soul that have not seen daylight in a long, long time. I'm grateful for your support and I hope that we can continue on our journey together.

The Holidays are upon us, and just like every year, there are lots of things to do, too many places to go and loads of people to see. But sometimes, among the bright lights of shopping malls and the din of the crowds, we can just as easily forget the reasons why we turn our lives upside down for these precious few days in the year. 

A lot of us would say that we're thankful for being with our families and friends for the Holidays, and this is certainly true. This is a time of year where we get the chance to see a lot of the familiar faces of people who have been with us for most of our life's journey. We need to celebrate and nurture these relationships.

But, what about the not-so-familiar faces of other people who have been just as influential in laying down our life's path as role models? We also need to be thankful for having these figures in our lives, especially the ones we never really got to know.

This is my own personal story, and if you have any young introverts in your family right now, this is a story that they might enjoy too.

‎For most of my life, I never really gave much thought to the idea of having a role model. I think it's a reality for a lot of us introverts: because we enjoy our time alone, the people we bump into outside of our quiet bubble often seem like foreigners to us, with their gregarious banter and shiny personalities.

Perhaps not surprisingly, as a young adult I developed a strong desire to maintain near-complete independence in my relationships and decisions. ‎This served me well in my life and subsequently in my career. To my surprise, however, I would later find out that I was emulating a role model in my family - a person who I never really got to know.

When we're younger, we're naturally drawn to the friends and relatives who are willing to give us attention and entertain us. This is human nature. When we are kids, we want to spend time with the "fun" grownups who always have a joke or a story to tell us, and who can give us the chance to do exciting things. Youthful personality traits give way to short attention spans, and we seek out the people around us who are more easily seen and heard.

Unfortunately for introverts, because of this type of behavior we may also exclude a lot of people who might be more like us. But, just like us, they prefer their solitude over social visiting, and are more distant and aloof than our noisy, extroverted relatives.

I think this was the case with my paternal grandfather, a quiet man who mostly kept to himself, and was very much a unique person who was comfortably set in his own ways. When I was a child, his personality was a stark contrast to my more extroverted relatives, and at the time I just didn't know how to connect with him. As I hear more and more stories about him today, I now realize just how much alike we are, and how ahead of his time he was in his own non-conforming ways of thinking.

So, what's the lesson? Well, my paternal grandfather passed away when I was relatively young, so I never had the opportunity to engage with him in the conversations I would really like to have with him right now.

For somebody like myself, hearing all of the stories about him is such a refreshing affirmation that there are kindred spirits in this world, if only we take the chance to get to know them before it's too late. So, take the next step, and you won't regret it. What is it?

While you can, try to reach out to the people in your circle who would normally be out of reach, and give yourself the gift of making a new connection. It's that simple. It might not sound like there is much at stake by doing this, but you will appreciate this decision later on in life. That's my message, and I wish you and your family a safe and happy Holiday season!


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