What’s on your mind? That is a common question, when you see someone you know well, seem to be far away in his or her thoughts. If someone should ask me that question, I really wouldn’t know where to begin because I always have so much on my mind. Sometimes even too much, and it can be annoying when I wake up in the middle of the night and my brain switches on immediately. It seems to never be sleeping, it is only resting for a while, listening to my snoring and impatiently waiting for me to wake up. My brain is acting like a happy puppy, bouncing up and down, so happy to get my attention. Even if I love that “puppy”, it can be annoying when it never allows me to rest.
I am an introvert, which means that my inner life is much more exciting than my outer life. I don’t like to be in a big crowd or at a party, it drains me of energy. I prefer to have a proper conversation with someone, so the chatter at a mingle party is nothing for me. I am so boring, because I never have any juicy gossip to contribute with. When I hear gossip, it is like my brain shuts off and even if it looks like I am listening, I have no clue what you have been telling me. Last week I wrote an article called: “Minding your own business, or not?” Introverts are really good at minding their own business, but they can become involved in other’s business if they are invited. We are not uninterested in other people, quite the contrary. Introverts are very interested, but in a genuine way.
Introverts are people who ask “Why” a lot. We are curious in a way that we wish to learn more about everything. A lot of introverts are working as teacher’s and scientists. There is so much to learn, so many exciting things to look deeper in to and telling others about. When I was a child, I was considered as shy and awkward. I was really the odd bird in the flock, no one understood me and especially not myself. For so many years I thought there was something wrong with me. Why couldn’t I be like the other girls who giggled and took everything in life lightly? It felt like I stood outside, watching the others acting in a way that seemed so natural for them, but completely too complicated for me. I wish someone would have taken time to understand this strange little girl, and guided her through life.
Not until some years ago, I came in contact with the terms introvert and its opposite: extrovert. An extrovert is someone who is a “happy-go-lucky” type, the centre of every party, someone who always have something to say and never hesitates to say it. We need both introverts and extroverts in our society, we complement each other. Introverts are the deep thinkers, but they need a kick in the butt sometimes by some extroverts so the introverts don’t get stuck. In our modern society, extroverts are often praised for their ability to shower every business meeting with ideas. They are perfect at connecting people with each other, are the centre of the attention and spread a lot of energy. If we look at the introverts instead, we find that some people are intimidated by them, because they don’t understand these people.
An introvert can be fun and the centre of attention also, but only in a context where the introvert feels confident. We are like chameleons, the lizards that change their colour depending on its background. If I feel confident, I am talking and joking a lot, and if not – you will not notice me, it is almost like I disappear in the surroundings. I have no problems with being on my own, though. I study other people to learn more about them, not because I am nosy, but because I am interested. Being a little like a chameleon is actually good, because that is very helpful when one needs to adapt to another culture.
Through mindful studies, introverts learn about the social interaction in an environment that is not what we are used to. Look at us as explorers, actually most explorers are introverts and we need to be. Deep inside, I am always the same person, but depending on the context, I change my behaviour. Perhaps this sounds strange for you, and you might consider me as some kind of unsteady type, but that is not the case. The case is, that I adapt to my surroundings so people who have never met me before will feel comfortable in my company. This is the trick to be able to live in two very different cultures and not lose oneself.
Having this ability to adapt to a new surrounding is making life so much more interesting. The willingness to learn more about other people, places and cultures is enriching one’s life. Sometimes one might even meet people who turn one’s life upside down. This can feel frightening at first, but with an afterthought it can be life changing. Being an introvert allows you to deeply consider new experiences and fills you with a lot of questions. Introverts ask “Why” a lot, others might find us annoying and tell us to stop bothering them with all our questions. Why can’t we just accept that things are as they are, and go on from there? That is not possible for introverts, we must find the answers before we can go on. Introverts never follow the flock, unless they have decided to. You can’t force us to stay there, we will always find our own path. Annoying, isn’t it?
Sometimes it can be annoying even for an introvert to be like that, but let us look at it from another angle. I told you a little earlier that extroverts are the ones who, for example, shower the business meetings with a lot of brilliant ideas. That is their strength, but their weakness is that they haven’t taken a lot of time to consider if the ideas are realistic and workable. This is where the introverts come in. They take their time to look at the ideas thoroughly to see what can be done and what not. This is how we are complementing each other. Introverts have a lot of ideas too, but we are not the first to present them. Allow us to take some time, and you will be amazed what we have to offer.
For those who find introverts annoying and troublesome because we always “think too much” and lack the ability to just accept things as they have “always been”, let us look at another example. If the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) would have been an extrovert, how would he have reacted when he got all these messages from God? Would he have said: “Yeah, finally something new and interesting! I was so bored with the “good old ways”. Let’s try this and see where it will lead us!” If that would have been the case, our prophet wouldn’t have the strength to persist when he met a lot of resistance for the messages he shared with the people.
The prophet took all the messages from God, gave them a deep consideration and found that this was so good so it had to be shared with the humanity. Many of us call ourselves Muslims, and try to follow our beloved prophet the best we can, but he never expected us to act like a flock of sheep. We were encouraged to ask a lot of questions and find our way through life and faith by deep consideration. Doesn’t that sound like our prophet was an introvert? Hmm…a bit annoying, but refreshing at the same time.