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I Must Confess--I'm An Introvert

August 05, 2013

My first time alone in a week and I find myself sitting in the lounge of the Queen Isabel with Ricardo the piano player and a 78ish year old woman reading a book. The furniture is Tiffany blue and the red wine is dry. The music is circa 1949. As are most of the guests. The city lights are shining brightly outside the panoramic windows. It truly is breathtaking. It’s my first time alone in a week and I’m breathing deeply. The women and men I’m traveling with are a riot and have had me rolling on the floor with laughter on a daily basis. Who knew that bowel movement discussions could occur on the regular? But as much fun as I’m having with the others I’m genuinely relishing this moment alone. People ask me all the time why I closed the cupcake bar. Aside from the surface answers of hard work, little pay, difficult employee relations, and taxes, there’s a far deeper reason I don’t usually disclose as to why I closed the cupcake bar. And it’s moments like this vacation of being immersed in social trenches that reinforce the reason as to why I shut the doors of my successful retail business. It’s moments like this that reinforce the deeper reason as to why I closed my shop… The reason being that I’m an introvert. Most people are shocked when I confess this. Many people even refuse to believe me. But the truth is that I’m at my mental best, my highest energy, and my greatest productivity when I’m alone. I adored my customers, but being surrounded by people for 14 hours a day was completely draining; both mentally and spiritually. Towards the end of the cupcake bar’s life I’m ashamed to admit that I began hiding at home. I was literally hiding at home. The anticipation of even entering my shop filled me with dread. On the off chance that I absolutely needed to be at the shop during opening hours I would hide in my 150 square foot kitchen until I was able to leave. I don’t think I waited on a single customer face to face during the final two months,and my lovely little cupcake shop began to feel less like a sweet haven and more like a suffocating prison cell. That’s when I knew that I was truly an introvert attempting to live an extroverted life. Susan Cain gave a moving TED talk on the power of introversion a year ago. She begins by explaining how it can be difficult, even shameful, to be an introvert in a culture that values social and outgoing qualities above all else. I certainly felt that shame. I wanted to be an extrovert so badly that I would dishonestly answer the questions on the Myers-Briggs personality test to score an “E” instead of an “I” when we took it in my psychology classes. I thought if I was social enough, if I attended enough networking events, or if I did enough public speaking engagements that I would one day find the love and joy in being around people often. I thought that ‘liking to be alone’ was sad. And now, after I’ve experienced the life of an extrovert and after I’ve been engulfed by the social world for hours and days and years on end, I’ve finally come to accept that being an introvert doesn’t mean I’m shy nor reserved nor lonely nor lame. Introverts aren't weird, dumb, or spaced out. In fact, we’re quite the opposite. Introverts are creative, reflective, and introspective. We find respite in solitude and inspiration in thought. And although I may never own another retail business and I might need to break away from the group on the Queen Isabel more often than most, I’ve finally come to terms with the undeniable truth that introverts are as Susan Cain says, “quite extraordinary” because we really are.  

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