I am looking at the number of friends I have on FB and smiling silently. 700+. Woah! A big number. Who would have thought the confirmed introvert can have over 700 friends and these are not casual connections. I know each of them and am often chatting with them or back thumping them in the virtual world if not meeting face to face. But I was never much of a people’s person. While I loved hanging out and making mischief with a select band of friends, to the wider world I was the grumpy introvert who would rather solve a Mathematical puzzle at home rather than go to weddings where distant aunts fussed over hair and make-up. I am not the kind of person who would fit seamlessly into social settings where people discuss with friendly malice the affairs of the neighbour. A choosy conversationalist, I often found myself turning my nose at most gatherings. Happy to sit with the studious introvert tag than make a fool of myself by saying I found Aunt Rima whom everyone labelled an upstart a perfectly sensible woman. Plus I figured out that in a world that talks too much, me talking a bit less will not hurt.
Over years this has changed. As a marketeer who also sold stuff for a while, I talk and I talk a lot. I have managed to join the cacophony that a talkative world makes. I am the social connector who networks and is seen at the heart of the crowd at social do’s. Yet I cringe at the label of the social extrovert. I am not the person who will stay back for more drinks after a party though I may offer a hand at the clean-up. I am not the one who loves catching up over Sunday brunch- I would rather read a book or teach children at the local NGO. I feel discomfitted by the naturally connected people at social do’s though I manage to gloss over the discomfiture with a charm that almost seems natural. I am a closet introvert. Like there are closet gays. So I sometimes flinch at openly admitting that I am perfectlty fine eating alone in a resturaunt, that I do not need to pretend I am talking to someone or call up people in an attempt to feel less lonely. In a uber connected world, such aberrations may single you out as a non-belonger. Or does it?
Do you really have to be a belonger? All the time. With everyone. Pronounce everything as awesome. Be seen at all the happening places. Make sure your social quotient has a steep gradient. I think I am old enough to know it is not. And tell you that it is ok being an introvert. being less social. Having fewer friends. But better friends. It is ok to be the quiet voice of reason. While in a hyper-connected world, it is advisable to hone your people-connect, it is important to know that not all of those connects and conversations matter. Only the ones where you are genuinely interested keep going. And you as an introvert are all the more likely to find those genuine connects. Because you keep time for yourself. To think. To ponder. And are not carried away by that mad rush of people clamouring for attention. You as an introvert have more strength than you think. Often a lot more reason and logic which is untempered by popular opinion. All you have to do is give yourself the confidence to speak up. Do not let the world tell you that your worth is proportional to the comments and likes on your FB profile. Doesn’t matter. You are looking for a much greater redemption and as an introvert your chance of finding that moment is just as much. And while the spotlight is on you, say a quiet Thank You. A noisy world can find solace in your silence.