I Can’t Help I’m Introverted
// May 25th, 2012 // Joe's Blog
In high school, I was always kind of loud, a little obnoxious, a sucker for attention and a little of that essence has carried over into my adult life. But underneath the hood of Joe Burke, lies an individual whose brain never shuts off and for every single thing I say aloud, my mind is constantly in motion and thinking on a dozen other things at the same time. Welcome to my introverted world.
Before I begin let’s start this session with two terms from the good ole Websters Dictionary.
- Introvert [n., adj. in-truh-vurt; v. in-truh-vurt] noun
- a shy person.
- Psychology . a person characterized by concern primarily with his or her own thoughts and feelings ( opposed to extrovert).
- to turn inward: to introvert one’s anger.
- Psychology . to direct (the mind, one’s interest, etc.) partly to things within the self.
- Extrovert [ek-struh-vurt, -stroh-] noun
- an outgoing, gregarious person.
- Psychology . a person characterized by extroversion; a person concerned primarily with the physical and social environment ( opposed to introvert).
- Psychology . to direct (the mind, one’s interest, etc.) outward or to things outside the self.
Okay, so now we can openly see the differences of both types, and we can begin to probe into my own psyche. I personally am an 80/20 person when it comes to social interactions. 80 percent of the time, I’m usually quiet, thinking and playing out multiple scenarios in my head of the most random of thoughts. My wife often points out that I’m abnormally quiet on certain days and that my mood/demeanor has changed from it’s usual perky, silly self. 20 percent of the other time, if I’m in familiar territory with people I know and have an established acquaintance with, I’m typically a little more outgoing, talkative and fun.
My wife, on the other hand, is mainly an extroverted individual, she likes to write things down, plan things out, talks out loud to control her thought process. Even though this is true for me, it’s actually pretty rare I do this outside the confines of my own home, beyond the comfort zone of my house and wife. When Alex has a bad day, she has to talk about it, “relieve the stress,” and purge that portion of her day out of her system so she can prepare for the next day. Often times I listen, other times I’m caught in a whimsical water slide of thoughts, what ifs, buts and consequences. The wife often gets a little frustrated at me when my brain is on another realm of physiological pondering and not solely focused on what she has to say.
For example, my wife and I were in the car yesterday, and as we were driving out for the afternoon together, she said, “Why are you so quiet? Are you upset with me or something?” It was then I had to tell her, “No honey, I’m no where near upset with you or anyone, I’m actually mapping out today’s activities in my head, thinking about times and how much we can get done in the time we have and where we can have dinner tonight.” Yes, in a span of 10 seconds my brain was attempting to process all of these facets simultaneously. But continually asking about my mental state will not make matters any better, rather worse. I become frustrated and upset because I often can’t find ways to express my thought process to her, but somehow, she usually understands after a short period of calmness. Somehow, for me, it works. I have to plan things out, go over them in my head a dozen or so times and then even before I make a move, attempt to predict an outcome.
It’s interesting being this way from a musicians stand point. I often times can plan, compose and arrange full melodies in my head with completed verses, choruses and bridges before striking the first note on a piano. I hear the songs in my head like I relive the thoughts over and over. When I’m silent, I think. There is one other exception to my unusual silent spells, and that factor is simply pain. Something I don’t talk about often in a public manner is my pain, but there are times when the pain becomes too much to smile, so sit, quietly planning my therapy, recovery and relief even before administering the first milligram of medicine.
I have severe hemophilia type A, and on a 33 year old body, my pain tolerance is typically high. I don’t pout, wine for attention or even take a single prescription pain medicine. In fact, I’ve never take pain medication for my ongoing issues. I sit, process and find relief through my mind by contemplating numerous outcomes of my situation and how to relieve the pain through realistic approaches.
To wrap things up, be kind to those silent thinkers, deep down they’re already socially attached to you, they’re just plotting out their appropriate move in their head. And those extroverts that are loud, open thinkers with a more vocal approach, we’ll listen to all you have to say, but don’t expect an immediate response. Give us some time to process, some space to do so and then the conversation can begin.