Saturday, January 7, 2012

On Shyness and Snobbery

I’m shy.  It’s probably hard to tell from reading my blog because, sitting when I'm alone in a room typing a post (or watching my little ballerina dance along to a ballet DVD) I share a lot of details about our lives.  But face to face, in person (and particularly in groups) I’m incredibly introverted. 

In college I spent a lot of time trying my level best not to be shy.  I tried to be someone who preferred to go out with friends over sitting at home with a good book… but it never really took.  It was an enormous effort.  It just wasn’t who I was.  It was an exhausting act, and it took quite a lot of energy to play the part.  

But, still I tried, partly because I knew the label that shyness could easily earn me:  Snob.  It was an insult I’ve heard not infrequently throughout my life, as shyness is often misinterpreted as some sort of superiority by people who didn't know me, and who, for whatever reason, decide that my general quietness must come from the worst possible motive.  My silence must mean that I think that I’m so super-special and as a result I just don’t want to talk to people (or some-such rather skewed logic... as is often the case when we go out looking for the worst in people). 

Of course, the shyness melts away pretty quickly when I’m one on one with someone.  Or even in small groups where I know everyone.  But it takes more than five minutes to get to know someone that well, and in that amount of time the label can be given and can stick. 

One of the key differences between introverts and extroverts is how they recharge.  An extrovert is energized by being around people.  An introvert is energized by being alone.  And to be honest, I’ve needed a ridiculous amount of time to recharge these past five months (just think... five months... a move across the country and five trips to the hospital) and to just process everything that’s happened. 

I must admit that I’ve grown more comfortable and secure in my introverted nature in the past six years.  I’ve realized that I don’t have to pretend to be someone that I’m not, and that it’s okay to be quiet when I don’t have something that needs to be said. 

However, I've also realized, lately, that wearing dresses and headcoverings probably doesn't help the “snob” situation.  Not only am I quiet… not only do I keep to myself… but now I stand out like a sour thumb.  It’s easy to make assumptions about both the headcoverings and the dresses.  It can, apparently, lead people to wonder if I think I’m “better than everyone else” (By the way, the answer is a very adamant No!!!!). 

I’ve written extensively about my odd choices, but to elaborate here, I cover my head for a variety of reasons, the foremost of which (in my everyday life), is that it reminds me to pray more often.  The skirts are, in a very similar way, a personal reminder of my vocation, and a reminder to embrace my femininity.  If these choices show anything it’s that I may need more reminders throughout the day than others do of what I should be doing. 

So if you know me (or know someone who’s shy, and let’s face it, you probably do!) try not to assume that my quietness means that I dislike you, or that it’s meant as an insult… it really just means that I don’t know you well enough yet to be totally at ease, and so I remain reserved.  And hopefully that's not a crime... right?


  1. I'm the same way, and for me it makes even social networking difficult. People often think I'm cold and stuck up, but I love being around and getting to know people, I just always have trouble starting up a conversation!

  2. Have you read the book The Temperament God Gave You? Great book.

  3. I got the same thing growing being told constantly by my mom that being so quiet I seemed stand offish like I didn't want anyone to talk to me when in reality I had a pretty bad case of social anxiety. I still struggle with anxiety, but it's gotten better and I've learned how to not keep to myself so much.

  4. I'm not sure I'd call it anxiety in my case. More like my personality is just very quiet.

    I haven't read the Temperament God Gave You, but I've read the Keirsey books and know I'm an INTJ. Which is a "rational" and is usual the stereotypical "nerd." That fits me to a T!

  5. I knew there was something I liked about you. I too am an introvert. EXTREME introvert. I like people, but not large groups. I can stand up in front of a large class and teach but put me in a social group of more than two other people and I simply withdraw. I cannot help it. Social situations are not my forte.

    Writing is easy for me and the people who know me say I sound in person much like I do in print. I guess that is a good thing, but being introverted, only a very few people actually know me very well at all.

    Alone time is my time to recharge. A quiet spot with a good book is my idea of perfect.

    I've been accused of being cold, or stuck up, too. Not much I can do about it and I have found the worst offenders are people who are so extroverted they won't ever be more than acquaintances anyway. The difficult part is when someone like that decides to gossip and mess with other people's perceptions of me. Introverts are generally not very good at correcting the social record. I know I certainly am not.

  6. LOL! My oldest son is an INTJ as is my hubby. I'm INFJ. My daughters have all been extroverts!

    I love the Kiersey books. Didn't like The Temperament That God Gave You because it read like a repeat of books written by the LaHayes back in the 1970's.

    Kiersey and the Myers-Briggs have been quite useful to me.

  7. I am completely sympathetic with your situation. I've been labled introverted since I was a child, although I can be very aggressive. I took drama and went into the military. I learned to act as though I were extroverted and picked up the skill of directing others. However, I don't like to be surprised into displaying extroverted behavior. I don't like surprise parties or being involved in an acting piece last minute. Anything like that has me embarrassed and wishing I could run away. Planned stuff is easier for me to handle. I can rhuminate on exactly what I'm going to do and how I will recieve things.

    In groups where I don't know anyone I may pick one person to talk to and get to know a bit but unless they reciprocate in kind it won't go farther than that.

    I have few friends and none when I was going through middle school or high school. Only in college did I find someone who accepted my oddities. And later I found another like minded girl, but that's it.

    Hopefully if we get the chance to meet in person we'll find each other kindred spirits, that would be nice.

  8. Ann- I think it's definitely the worst when people start talking and reinforce perceptions that may not have even been there before. I've gotten the "cold" description too, but that's really just until someone talks to me one on one!

    And Jana I hope we do meet! I think we would get along wonderfully! Your a rational too aren't you? I vaguely remember that on your blog I think? And Ann would get along with both of us as an idealist! It's like the perfect combo for friendship!

  9. I can definitely relate! I'm finding that the older I get, the more drained I feel when I'm around people all day. Considering my part-time job is the Activity Director in a nursing home, that probably doesn't make sense... I can be totally outgoing when I need to be, especially around people I know, but then I need some quiet time to "recover" later.

  10. praise God that you are following His promptings that He has placed on your heart, regardless of how "odd" they may seem.

    i pray that you keep being you and that you are open to be who He calls you to be, when He calls you.

    Ad Jesum per Mariam,

  11. I do find that I get along with Rationals very very well. I adore that my husband is so exactly right for me. Rational-Idealist friendships do seem to work very well.

    I find I do best with Rationals and more introverted Guardians. Nearly every one of my friends falls into those groupings of MB-types.

    It is rather amazing to find so many of the less common MB types visiting together on the same blog.

  12. This discussion makes me think of all the socialization arguments I hear about homeschooling. We have experienced the battleground of socializing in school when we are naturally introverted. Before public school became so institutionalized many families would homeschool certain of their children due to shyness or lack of neccissary discipline, etc. I'm thinking of Beth from Little Women, Anne from Anne of Green Gables, or the Brontë sisters.

  13. I'm actually a shy extravert. Which is a weird combination! I THRIVE being around other people and love spending time with others and talking, yet I'm also very shy and have a very difficult time approaching people and forming close friendships. I have lots of acquaintances and casual friends, but very, very few close friends. I don't like large groups(but I can handle them), but instead much prefer smaller groups (an ideal group size for me would be 3 people (including myself).

    FWIW, you've always seemed very normal to me. I never thought you seemed that shy, and certainly never "cold" at all. And, I never thought you looked weird either. You always look super cute and well put together. And, I'm thinking about getting a head-covering from you. You've inspired me to cover during Mass as a help to focus on prayer more. Plus, it's a great way to cover up a bad hair day (which for me, with all the Fl humidity is quite often) ;) LOL

  14. I'm a shy extravert. Which is a weird combination. I thrive from being around people and having good conversations, yet I'm shy and have a difficult time approaching people and have very, very, very, very few close friends. I have a lot of casual friends and acquaintance, but I have a difficult time getting close to anyone or even approaching them in the first place...and a very difficult time pursing a friendship with someone.

    FWIW, you never came across to me as that shy, and certainly never as "cold." You always seemed very friendly and sweet to me. And,as far as your dress goes, you always look very cute and put together. I think when most people think (in a negative way) of someone who wears skirts all they time, they think of someone who looked "frumpy" (yk, the long denim skirt, baggy t-shirt and sneakers look). You never look always look great!

    I'm thinking about getting a headcovering from you. You've inspired me to cover during Mass (and my husband thinks I should), and I can use all the help I can get to help me focus and pray more. And, if nothing else, a head scarf is a great tool to cover up a bad hair day. ;) LOL (which for me, in Fl, is quite a bit with all the humidity).

  15. Would you like to move to Jacksonville, FL and hang out with me? I have a 3.5 year old daughter, who reminds me very much of Sadie, and I have not been blessed with anymore children yet. I struggle constantly with reaching out to make friends for my daughter. It is rather difficult to be an introvert, homeschooling, Catholic, young, mother.

  16. I'm much the same way...when I'm around people I know well I can be quite outgoing, but around strangers I clam right up.

  17. I am very introverted as well. I have never encountered quite the same problems, though. I wear skirts and dresses all the time as well, and I do not find that it attracts a lot of attention, at least for me. I love your outfits and I find it odd that the gorgeous headcoverings that you wear would attract negative attention. That really stinks. :(

  18. Here is what I have experienced talking with Catholic women. Most are shy, but you have about 25% that will try to tear you down and show that your worthless or make a point to rub in snobbing you off. This is why Catholic guys don't talk to women. Its because of the sharks and frankly if someone's shy, I'm wandering if I'm going to get kicked in the nuts for trying to talk to her or if shes just shy. A lot of conservative Catholic women have no charity towards men and assume your a creep or an idiot unless you were introduced into their extremely small click by one of the 3 people that knows them. No women have been anywhere as ugly to me as Catholic women and if it wasn't for the Eucharist I would leave the faith.


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