1. At what point in your life did you realize that you were an
Introvert? When I was an undergrad student in Nonverbal Communication at Florida State or Dean of Communication, Dean Clevenger came into our classes to give us the Myers Briggs test. I tested as an extrovert, but when we had our meeting about my results, he told me I was an introvert and why he knew that. Including that I loved going to study in the library every night! He said he wanted me to know I was, in actuality, an introvert. He said he knew I thought it was better to be an extrovert had unknowingly skewed my answers on my Myers Briggs test to be an extrovert. He said he had done the same thing when he first took the test, and he was an introvert. He said, "I know you want to go to grad school, and I want you to know you will thrive because of your intelligence and introversion." Dean Clevenger said, "Be proud of the fact that you gain energy from being alone and don't judge yourself by the Extrovert world standard." He gave me some of the best insights and advice I have ever received that day, and he went on to be a mentor, and later offered me a partnership in a consulting business he had with another professor. To this day, I hold him to be one o the most exceptional human beings I have ever know. He was a man of strong character and morals and kindness.
2. Did people ever give you a hard time because of your introversion? My mother gave me a hard time my entire childhood and adult life because I was an introvert, and she was an extrovert, and she thought there was something horribly wrong with me. As a child, I was chastised for as she said, "… always having my head in a book." She would constantly berate me for reading and would even rip my book out of my hand and tell me to go out and play with other kids. Later she wanted me to go down to the clubhouse to the bar and meet a nice divorced man. Even when I was visiting her on my grad school vacations and had textbooks on statistics, I was studying, and she wanted me to go down to the bar and meet a nice man. I never went to the club or bar, that would have been agony for my introverted personality. This judgment of me was one of the reasons I was so grateful to my Dean for explaining. It was great to be introverted, and there was nothing wrong with me.
3. What strategies have you evolved to fight back? In both junior high and high school, the school library staff asked me to work at the school library because I checked out more books than any student that they ever had. So I knew that reading was a good actor, so I kept checking out books, and I would read in my room out of sight of my mother! I became a keen observer of people and carried a little notebook with me wherever I went to write what I saw about people, mostly in the form of poetry and songs. I also kept a journal. In college the dorm at school that was so noisy because we had sixty girls partying on my floor and the doors of everyone's rooms where open because we had airconditioning, I went to the library. I embraced the quiet and the company of other introverts.
Later I studied and got degrees to become one of the world's top body language experts. I embraced being a watcher!
4. Tips for people who are struggling to make peace with their introversion? Find role models who are introverts. Keep a diary or journal so you can see how full your internal life is. Notice how often you are at peace when you are by yourself or with close friends and family and let gratitude for that peace wash over you. Embrace the fact that you can be in the present moment and don't have the leave your house to find energy and engagement.