I don't usually make stellar first impressions. In fact, I don't think I make much of an impression at all on most people when we meet. I trust my instincts with people, and I usually like to get a good gauge on them before I begin to even think about any self-disclosure. So until you earn my trust, it's small amounts of polite small talk for you.
Because of this, some people find me... boring. I don't talk much right away. I'm not an entertainer. I dislike attention. "She seems pretty standoffish... doesn't really have anything to offer to this group".
I have come to accept that there will always be people who think that about me, and I'm surprisingly ok with that. Here's why:
If I don't really talk to you... it's probably because I don't think you're really worth sharing anything with. So essentially, I find you boring. So... it means nothing to me what you think of me.
Yikes, I know that sounds a bit harsh. But you have to understand, I've had 25 years of people comparing me to the extrovert ideal and raising an eyebrow with a little "tsk tsk, you need to be more outgoing".
"It is impossible for a man to learn
what he thinks he already knows." -Epictus
Do you think you already know that I'm a boring, "shy" person? Then what's the point of me trying to change your opinion? You will think what you want to. By the questions people ask, by the opinions they feel the need to share, by the subjects they choose to talk about. It really doesn't take too long to get a read on someone who thinks they already know everything.
In high school I got an earful of "oh, she can talk!" when I shared an opinion or idea. I was told to "come out of my shell". My quietness and inward thinking made others nervous and they'd either tell me I was arrogant, little miss perfect, or just too shy. Guys especially seemed to find it irksome when they provoked me and I showed little reaction. I didn't know what was wrong with me. I knew I wasn't proud or arrogant at all--I didn't think I was better than anyone. And I knew I wasn't boring, I was passionate about a lot of stuff. I just didn't want to self-disclose to them.
I'm not too far in Susan Cain's Quiet yet but I'm already reading it with lots of "YES, that's ME!" It's very comforting and freeing to know that there is a certain percentage of the population who really gets where I'm coming from!
Turns out, nothing's wrong with me. These are actually all pretty common traits in introverts:
・I prefer one-on-one conversations to group activities.
・I prefer expressing myself through writing.
・I enjoy solitude. (Yes, I like living alone, everyone can stop asking with a look of pity.)
・I don't care about wealth, fame or status. It does not motivate me.
・I don't like small talk, but I do like talking about things that matter.
・I'm a good listener. I actually hear you, remember what you say, and ask you questions about it.
・I do my best work alone, and the less interruptions and eyes over my shoulder, the better.
・I think before I speak. Always. I don't waste words.
・I often let calls go to voicemail... on purpose (leaves more time for thinking before speaking).
・Being with lots of people drains me, even if I'm having a great time.
・I concentrate well, and can get quite wrapped up in a project, book or movie.
・I devote all of my social energy to a few, select people who I care deeply about.