I loved the parade of trick-or-treaters at my door last week. So many shiny, happy faces. So much slightly chaotic, sugar-fueled enthusiasm. For my friend Michelle, it’s one level of hell. For me, happiness.
But not for the reason you think. It’s because Halloween is an introvert’s holiday.
It’s a rare blogger who is an introvert. No one who lays her thoughts out there for all to see is usually classified as shy. But I used to be. And now I cheer on my quiet little compadres.
I was the girl who wore Forrest Gump leg braces (the cure du jour in the early 1970s for pigeon-toed children) at the age of three. Learned to read at five. Read The Hobbit at eight, Poe at nine, Tolstoy not long after. I read in my room alone, in the car, at the dinner table—anywhere I could. I blushed when I had to talk to anyone not in my inner circle. We’re talking painfully introverted.
Ah, but on Halloween—I could be anyone I wanted. I bravely marched up to doors and sang out “Trick or Treat” as I skipped from house to house. It was not me making conversation about my costume or the weather, it was my alter ego–the much braver clown, witch or gypsy.
Genetics being what they are, my kids had a 50/50 chance of being just as painfully introverted as I was. Except I doubled those odds when I married a man who made my painful shyness look like ebullience.
And there you have it. My children, while friendly, can be a bit—ahem—reserved.
So, when after what I am sure was one too many glasses of wine, another mother mentioned that one of my chickadees didn’t always “bring much to the table” conversationally, I did not make the situation a Situation. You see, I know something she does not. Introverts become the most interesting grownups. And they don’t perform on demand. They save their best insights, humor and vulnerability for those they know they can trust. In a world of TMI a la the Kardashians, I high five those who realize great insights and true joy usually come in quiet moments. Some of us get our energy from silent time with ourselves—time when something bigger than us can seep into our pores. Thank God, or where would the world be?
Imagine Ghandi as a chatterbox. Rosa Parks as a bossy dame. Thomas Alva Edison skipping long hours in the lab to party with his friends. Not a pretty picture. Ghandi’s inner strength came from prayer and meditation—quiet practices. Rosa Parks sparked a firestorm because she was a quiet, unassuming woman who was hard to hate. Edison’s teacher believed him stupid because he was so quiet. It was from this quiet that his more than 1,000 patents flowed. I’m sure none of these fascinating folk was thought to bring much to the table at a loud party or in school hallways. But then again, these weren’t the stages they were born to dominate, were they?
Seat me next to the quiet type at a dinner party any day. I’ll take the introvert over the person whose life history is general knowledge before the soup is served. You may think the silent types don’t bring much to the table. And you’re right. They don’t bring it to the table at large–only to those wise enough to shut up and listen.
Those of us who raise kids that have just a few good friends versus a posse usually know why. Those good friends see what others don’t. They allow space for silences, knowing that what comes after is rich and real.
So here’s to the tiny little ninja, ladybug and cowboy who showed up at my door last week, all a bit more loquacious than their usual reserved selves. I can’t wait for the fascinating conversations I know will come. From one introvert to another, you rock kiddo.