Monday, March 5, 2012

Introverts: A User's Manual (part II)

My mom says she knew I was introverted even as a baby. Long before I could verbalize my needs, Mom knew.

She said that I would be playing with someone, giggling and smiling, and then at some point I'd just get fussy for no obvious reason. I wasn't hungry or need a diaper change, but I was agitated. So she'd take me into a quiet room for a bit and I'd relax. And this was even before I could walk or talk.

As a small child I used to spend time in our cans cupboard. It started out as a good place to play peek-a-boo, but then I started going in there just to hang out. I'd scoot the canned peaches and soup to the side and just...sit. The space was beneath the in-wall oven, so if Mom was baking it would be nice and warm in there. And it was dark, and quiet. It's funny to think about now, but at the time I really just liked to do nothing in there. I was the child who went to Time Out voluntarily.

But I wasn't hiding; the introvert typically isn't afraid of the world or her immediate situation or environment, she just needs a buffer from it. In that cupboard I still could hear what was going on in the house, and I usually let Mom know I was heading in there. It was like my own little office.

Decades before I knew how to label myself, I knew what I felt about my personality. As a kid I remember hearing a song by Gino Vanelli and identifying with the lyrics: "...and I am lost, living inside myself...somewhere inside my own dreams." At 8 years old I already knew that the life inside my mind was far more intricate and colorful than the life outside my bedroom door. It was also more sensical. I would think about situations in my life and then act out all the parts in my mind, concocting various options for how a scene could play out, as if I was writing a screenplay. Except the story lines were everyday occurrences like what I would say to the cute boy in my class if we ended up sitting next to each other in the cafeteria. This "mental rehearsal" is extremely common among introverted children.

It's no wonder I took to creative writing assignments with great fervor early on. It was an outlet for all the scenarios I'd been formulating in my head. The more I wrote creatively--with no rules and with total freedom--the more I wanted to write. Introverts get their energy from within themselves, and writing is a very solitary venture.

Writing isn't the only time I come alive, but it IS when I am most purely myself. So when I'm lost, somewhere inside myself, that's where I find my vibrancy.


  1. We can clear out a new office for you next to the stove if you really want. We have WiFi. :)

  2. I used to hang out in the kitchen cupboard, too!

    I preferred the corner cabinet since it had more square footage - I just had to pull out a few pesky pots and pans to get them out of the way when I was ready to go in. All you need is a flashlight, some toys, and you have instant coziness and a place to think.

  3. It's amazing how much thinking we did at that age! The cans cupboard was the original "think tank."