Early Spring 2013 -- Being True to Our Nature
While at a 9-year-old's birthday party last weekend, I saw one of the little girls take a break from all the raucous romping in the bounce houses. As I watched her quietly get her book, read for a bit, and then return to her friends, I couldn't have been more impressed -- not because she was a book lover (although that's great too!), but because she had enough sense of self to regulate what was comfortable for her. How many of us can say that about ourselves?! I was equally impressed with the mom for understanding her daughter and not forcing her to go play with the others out of fear that she'd appear odd or 'anti-social.'
After reading 'Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking,' I've come to greatly value the importance of being true to our nature (introvert or extrovert) more than ever. Although I don't have a shy bone in my body, I am every ounce an introvert and crave 'restorative niches' in my day. In a society that tends to reward and even expect extroversion, it's refreshing to see introversion finally being more understood and accepted.
Sometimes (perhaps lots of times!) it's challenging to be an introvert parent raising an extrovert child or an extrovert parent who thinks there's something wrong with the child who just wants to stay home instead of go on another play date. That's why I'm glad to see a growing awareness of our differences, understanding that neither personality type is better or 'right.' After all, where would the world be without Chopin, Einstein, and Stephen Spielberg (famous introverts) or Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs, and Madonna (famous extroverts)?
The important thing is to know our children and respect their needs as well as our own, somehow finding a balance. Had the mother of a little extrovert at the party removed her child from the action in order to have reading time, it would have been hard to watch! Our children need us to support them in who they are — not who we want them to be. Granted, we all need to stretch our limits at times in order to grow, but we can do so while being true to our nature.
My hope is that we come to understand our children and ourselves a little better and that we respect each other's differences and learn from them. Yin and yang is a good thing. Whether introverts or extroverts, let's celebrate the unique gifts we bring and, most importantly, be ourselves, even if that means excusing ourselves from the bounce house for a season.