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how to care for your introverts

I have signed up for some training courses offered at work, one of them is called “How to present with confidence”. Yes, at 40+, I still struggle with opening my mouth in front of a group larger than 5. It’s a miracle that I even survived this many years in corporate America. Someone overheard me and commented, “Is this the same as the course ‘How to present with charisma?'” “Nope. I am not qualified to take the charisma class,” I joked.  I then made everybody laugh when I said, “Actually, I am all charisma and no confidence.”

I thought about this throwaway punchline on my 2-hour flight back home. (I am trying to read Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom and unfortunately my brains seem to want to think of anything else but focusing on that book…) We were laughing because it is impossible, right? to have charisma when one does not have any confidence. Doesn’t charisma come from a surplus of self-confidence?

However, deep down I knew I was kidding on the square when I threw out this line. I have been known to be charming on many occasions, but I never ever feel truly confident.

Is it possible to fake confidence and/or charisma? And if you fake it, is it still confidence / charisma or is it something else altogether? Could it be possible that charisma sometimes comes from one’s unawareness, unassumingness, and humility? Something more akin to quiet grace?

But of course, I already know this definition of charisma is, at best, marginal, if not considered outright incorrect, in a course titled “How to Present with Charisma” and the business world that propagate such courses.

Head. Desk.

I am unrepentant though, and probably will continue to be even after taking the “confidence” training. And I will continue to smile at the thought that I am all charisma and no confidence. Secretly, of course.

 

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My blogging friend Nance over at Mature Landscaping posted about the new issue of Time Magazine with a cover story titled:

“The Upside Of Being An Introvert (And Why Extroverts Are Overrated).”

Oh yeah. Oh yeah. It’s about time!

I have written about Introverts, or rather, the misunderstanding, mishandling, and under-appreciation of this group of people in the past. Ok, I ranted with foams at the corners of my mouth. I LOVE this paragraph below and will quote it again, and again, whenever I have a chance:

The American dream is to be extraverted. We want our children to be “people who need people.” We want them to have lots of friends, to like parties, to prefer to play outside with their buddies rather than retire with a good book, to make friends easily, to greet new experiences enthusiastically, to be good risk-takers, to be open about their feelings, to be trusting. We regard anyone who doesn’t fit this pattern with some concern. We call them “withdrawn,” “aloof,” “shy,” “secretive,” and “loners.” These pejorative terms show the extent to which we misunderstand introverts…

Introverts need to learn about the positive benefits of their personality type. They need to be taught that reflection is a good quality…

The time has come to respect the introverts in our families and classrooms, and the hidden introvert in ourselves.

Source (1999)

 

This was written in 1999. It is now 2012. About time that a major publication such as the venerable Time rights the wrong, sets the record straight.

I was ready to take out my credit card in order to walk through that pay wall Time.com cleverly set up so I could read the said cover story.

Then I took a good look at the cover Time has chosen for this issue.

 

 

No. No. No. No. No.

Introversion does not equal shyness.

Introverts are not necessarily shy. In fact, psychologists have been warning adults from labeling children “shy” if they seem reserved. This will only create a self-fulfilling prophesy. This is ironic since Susan Cain, whose book Quiet this Time article was based on, wrote an article titled “Don’t call introverted children shy” published by Time Online at the same time. She specifically addressed this common mistake of confusing introversion with shyness:

Shyness and introversion are not the same thing. Shy people fear negative judgment, while introverts simply prefer less stimulation; shyness is inherently painful, and introversion is not. But in a society that prizes the bold and the outspoken, both are perceived as disadvantages.

Though I along with many others are excited that the undue attention paid to the extroverts in this country is finally being brought to light by such a widely-read magazine, I believe this cover is doing a lot of people, esp. children a disservice by reinforcing a misconception.

And, that’s what I have been doing these past two nights. I tweeted, I Facebooked, I google+’ed. I could not let it go.

So here it is. A Facebook page for  Introverts are not shy

 

 

LIKE the page if you agree! Chances are nothing will get changed. I don’t have the self-grandiose illusion of this starting a movement. BUT, it certainly makes me feel better tonight.

And I am going to bed.

 

 

p.s. Now it’s two days later. Still cannot let it go. I added a Google Plus page for good measure.

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