I recently had a facebook conversation with someone regarding introversion. Her status update asked, "What is your life story telling you about yourself?" I answered, "That I need to embrace my introversion." She responded with, "Don't let it rule you." The statement bugged me, because that's exactly what I need to do.
For the record, I am not a hermit. My job involves working with people directly. I take dance class and am part of a discussion group on the weekends. Also, I see at least one of my closest friends once a month. On top of that, I have three people I attend Mass with on Sundays. So I'm an introvert with good social skills. ;-)
However, I have recently seen the light. Over and over again, society devalues introverts. We are told to "be more outgoing," "get out of our shells," "talk more." In other words, introversion is seen as a negative that needs to be remedied. How often are extroverts told to "be less outgoing," "go into your shell," or "talk less?" Although I agree socializing is beneficial to the soul (humans are social creatures after all), I disagree that wanting to crawl in a shell necessarily means one is anti-social. On top of that, solo activities, such as reading a book, painting, journaling or taking a bath, are seen as "doing nothing." Those are unnecessary luxuries. Bathing I suppose is a necessity, but bathing just for the sake of relaxing might be seen as a luxury. In America, we "live to work," not "work to live," after all.
The Shy Single taught me a valuable lesson though, especially in terms of dating. One of the messages of the book was to put oneself in dating situations where one is at one's best. So if you bumble and fumble at "Single's Events," where it's you and a bunch of strangers, don't do that. If you're intimidated at fancy restaurants, don't take your date there. Figure out in which situations you are most comfortable, and seek out those. Although going out my comfort zone sometimes improved me, at other times, it put me in awkward, uncomfortable situations. The only lesson learned in those cases was, "Don't do that again."
I like first dates to be at cute, independent coffee shops followed by a walk in the park (weather permitting). So I've gone on most dates at the same cafe. I don't like eating on first dates and I don't like meeting at night, so I try to avoid both those. Tea and a walk in the park suit me fine. I'm most comfortable (and therefore most charming) on such dates.
So although my friend/mentor meant well, she didn't realize the inherent bias in her statement. I will no longer fight who I am nor will I be ashamed of it. Sometimes I prefer solitude to people, and it's nothing that needs to be fixed. There is nothing wrong with nightly "me time."