Asian, Quiet And Introverted? It’s Just The Way I Am

When we speak of introverts, we often think of those who are quiet. There’s the common stereotype that if we’re Asian, we’re quiet and passive, and perhaps introverted too.

I’ve been every bit the introvert my whole life. As a Chinese Australian who feels too Asian to be Australian and too Australian to be Asian, countless occasions I feel I don’t fit in – but ironically I love being on my own.

Introverts love quiet and their own space | Weekly Photo Challenge: Layered personalities of different colours.

Introverts love quiet and their own space | Weekly Photo Challenge: Layered personalities of different colours.

Being an introvert never bothered me, and it’s interesting seeing how others react to me and the way I am.

The difference between an introvert and extrovert lies in how one prefers to socialise. Building upon Carl Jung’s writings on introversion and extroversion, author Susan Dembling argues introverts ‘gain energy in solitude and quiet, whereas extroverts gain energy in social situations with interaction’. Similarly, the Oxford Dictionary of Psychology defines introversion as a ‘predominant concern with one’s own thoughts and feelings rather than the outside world and social interaction’.

The way we’re brought up plays a part in how we like to spend our time. So does personal preference.

Learning and thriving on one’s own is something we may get accustomed to growing up in a typical Asian household that cultivates the ethos of hard work. In a stereotypical Chinese family, it’s regarded as respectful when one listens, listens to seniority and works towards goals through and through – in part due to maintaining individual ‘face and pride’. During secondary school in Singapore, my class (of Chinese, Malay and Indian races) sat in silence at our own desks practising maths and chemistry formulas over and over every single day. We were each only allowed to go home when we came up with the answers individually.

In Chinese culture, the focus on rote learning creates an atmosphere of solitary competition and so solitary task completion is fostered. In 2005, a study by the University of Michigan found Asian-American schoolchildren academically outperform their Western counterparts because they try harder – and they also spend less time with friends. In her book that explores the significance of introverts in a world where most institutions are geared towards extroverts, writer Susan Cain refers to studies that found Asian students problem-solve better when they remain quiet; she argues introverts exhibit ‘quiet persistence’.

Introverts may never feel part of a crowd.

Introverts may never feel part of a crowd.

A sheltered upbringing centred around Confucian morals in a typical Asian family encourages one to spend time with themselves developing individualistic skills. According to lawyer and author Amy Chua, Tiger parents often seen in Chinese families constantly push their children to excel at academic and non-academic achievements. As a mark of filial piety, it’s not uncommon for these kids to obediently and repeatedly practice musical instruments, sports or some kind of craft for hours on end, spending a decent amount of time bettering oneself individually away from the rest of the world.

At the insistence of my parents, as a kid I practised the piano each day after school. Though I didn’t enjoy it, I passed several music grades and this skill probably made my memory what it is today. These days, doing something over and over is still how I learn something best and my mind concentrates best when no one is around. For instance, writing inspiration usually hits me at 1am when I’m alone at home, never in a bustling café at midday. At work, I feel most productive on the days where half the office decides not to turn up.

Back then my parents also bought me a Nintendo GameBoy – they rather I stay home and play video games than stay out late. I didn’t mind as this gave me reason to avoid shopping centres where my classmates loved hanging out. Standing in the middle of a busy shopping centre gets overwhelming for me: my eyes often latch on to every movement flickering across my eyes; my mind runs a million miles an hour and friends right next to me seem so far away. Out of place, out of mind.

Introverts might feel lonelier in a crowd than being alone.

Introverts might feel lonelier in a crowd than being alone.

Aside loving alone time and feeling content with the familiar, according to introvert advocate Jenn Granneman introverts tend to have smaller social circles and generally don’t go to parties to meet people. Notably, among stereotypical Chinese a selective collective culture is emphasised, a culture where one supports and sticks with those of similar cultural mindset and values. As some of Asian descent have said, there’s a common understanding of each other’s upbringing and the feeling everything clicks when hanging out together.

At university, my international student Asian friends hung out together all the time, sitting together in tutorials and during lunch. When I wanted company, I joined them as I found it hard to get a word in conversation around my Western classmates. Over the years, ‘Are there any Asians at work?’ is a question my Chinese-Malaysian parents like asking me, a question which I find perplexing. Many a time the answer has been no, and I’ve never and never felt the need to mention that most of my friends are Asian.

To a degree our personality is dependent on the way our brain works as opposed to just the way we were brought up. Extroverts tend to have a version of the D4DR gene that makes their dopamine receptors less sensitive to dopamine and so need more dopamine and social interaction to feel satisfied and stimulated. Pleasurable activities stimulate the release of dopamine in our brains, and dopamine motivates us to act.

Not all Asians are introverted. Some are more outgoing than others, or extroverted during particular moments that matter or excite. Loud karaoke is a common pastime in Japan. Typical Chinese wedding receptions involve a good number of roof-rattling toasts. Chinese people are no stranger to heated bargaining matches alongside street markets in South East Asia.

A quiet moment, a moment of solitude for the introvert.

A quiet moment, a moment of solitude for the introvert.

It’s one thing to be introverted, and another thing to be shy, and another to be antisocial. Introverts generally dislike extroverted activities while shy people fear these activities and undesirable judgement. Antisocial behaviour is commonly understood as unusual, non-typical ways of socialising. Admittedly, I’m these three traits now and again: unlike many others, I find solace in going to concerts and the movies alone and eating alone. My ideal weekend is one where I get the house to myself and hibernate indoors watching YouTube, read non-fiction and stare out the window with the company of my own thoughts.

Since having therapy for my social anxiety, today walking into a shopping centre is less daunting. However these occasions still remind me of the introvert in me. Countless times I’ll walk into a clothes shop, drift past a silent white saleslady staring me down. I’ll then hear her greet someone behind me. I’ll glance around and see a white girl walking in, the white saleslady all smiles with her. Heart hammering in my chest. The desperation to be alone again making me flush all over. I’d drift towards the entrance, their small talk ringing in my ears louder by the second.

All of us are own unique personalities built upon the individual stories that we live. Our stories and personalities are constantly changing. At different times in our lives we may be more outgoing or extroverted. We may go through phases where we are more comfortable being an ambivert, one of the four different kinds of introverts (social, thinking, anxious, restrained), fitting a certain Myers-Briggs personality or fitting any other character in between.

A moment of solitude, a moment of peace for the introvert.

A moment of solitude, a moment of peace for the introvert.

In a world where the confidently outspoken dominate the spotlight and discrimination is part of society, it can be hard for introverts to share their voice. That said, there are introverts who excel as public speakers from practice and researching their audience. Today there are more Asian Australian faces in Australian media speaking up against racism and pursuing their ambitions underneath the bamboo glass ceiling. It’s encouraging for minorities who are introverted or shy and desire to speak up. But presumably some of us prefer to sit back, stay in the background and live our lives as they are.

Often, the latter is how I feel. A year after starting this blog, I was invited by a high school to talk to one of their classes about my written work on multiculturalism. Towards the end of the one hour talk, I felt absolutely spent in front of an excited culturally diverse class asking question after question. Also, responding to comments on this blog feels overwhelming as much as I am humbled to connect with all of you.

Although pursuing writing and sharing it with the world gives me a sense of purpose, it’s the quiet moments where I just kick back alone at home with no expectations of what tomorrow will be that brings me the most peace. Fellow introvert Lani over at Lani Cox sums up the dichotomy of being an introvert:

‘Sometimes I feel like (being introverted is) a curse: needing space, being touchy and hyper-sensitive. Other times, I simply drink in the silence and solitude, and luxuriate in living my own universe.’

Connections are touch and go for many introverts.

Connections are touch and go for many introverts.

Being an introvert doesn’t mean one doesn’t want friends or like meeting people or like meeting other introverts. Introverts interact more comfortably sans crowds and are more inclined to connect when conversations run beyond small talk. A study on interpersonal closeness in 1997 suggests introverts have a harder time bonding with new acquaintances compared to extroverts, but are capable of doing so. Given introverts relish solitude, it’s a wonder how one meets an introvert, or how introverts meet each other and stay connected – these are more or less unexpected moments, sliding into each other’s lives when you least expect it.

This was how I met my wonderful friend, introvert, author, highly sensitive person and blogger Rebecca Rossi. We randomly met some years ago when I went for a job interview and she was on the panel. I didn’t get the job; Rebecca started commenting on my blog and I wrote back despite feeling she was stalking me.

This went on for about half a year, and she suggested we meet up. Apart from writing, we had nothing in common. She is vegan, I love my meat. She likes fiction, I prefer non-fiction. She is of Italian heritage, I’m Chinese. Eventually I agreed to meet during peak-hour lunchtime at a cramped café despite every fibre of me screaming ‘No!’. It turned out to be a nice lunch with quite a few pauses between our chats. Since that day, we’ve shared many more memorable meals and pauses.

A true connection, often a meaningful one for the introvert.

A true connection is often a meaningful one for the introvert.

It may be nice meeting someone reserved (or anyone really) and eventually finding out you have things in common, but it’s something special when you actually connect with each other, especially over silence. After all, collective silence or sharing a space of silence with another allows us to escape social conventions and see each other as we really are. One of my best friends happens to be of Asian background and she’s outgoing, loves hanging out with others all the time unlike me. Once she said to me, ‘I like how when we hang out, we don’t always talk with each other’.

Reflecting on our friendship over the years, we’ve shopped, hiked, ate and celebrated together as two people from similar backgrounds with very different personalities – one loud, one quiet but always making it fun, honest times together. Taking each other for who we are, that’s when we connect, and keep connecting.

* * *

Who we are is simply because of who we are. That’s a choice we make and feel within us, sometimes alongside the values we grew up with, sometimes not.

Truth be told, I’ve encountered more extroverts than introverts over time. For most part, I’ve never felt part of a crowd big or small. Often it feels like I’m my own island in the middle of nowhere. Certainly out of place. But never so sure about where I’ve come from and where I am right now, Asian, introverted, quiet and all.

Are you an introvert/do you know an introvert?

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241 thoughts on “Asian, Quiet And Introverted? It’s Just The Way I Am

  1. Dear Mabel, thanks for sharing so many aspects of an introvert, with personal examples that clearly bring out the characteristics of such a person. You don’t seem to be one, with the number of friends you have on social media or should I say introverts are more comfortable through written interaction?

    I have many times pondered over this question – what makes a person an introvert? To my mind, an introvert has some innate traits, which are difficult to erase unless s/he gets the best of environment to break free from cultural compulsions and diktats. The way we are brought up, the schools we attend and the peer group we get, plays a major role in molding us into introverts or extroverts. If the friends happen to be apathetic or bullies, it is natural for a child to learn to dwell in his/her own shell.

    There is no doubt that Asian culture emphasizes rote learning and parents expect their children to excel in all spheres of life but competition doesn’t isolate those who happen to meet the right friends or like to socialize as co-curricular activities provide ample opportunities to those who are outgoing.

    I agree with you, introverts are comfortable in their own friendship zone, which is very limited but they prefer to stay within their own circle. Introverts are wonderful persons – most sincere, loyal, loving and good at heart. They may choose their friends carefully but stick to them. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • It is very interesting to hear you say you don’t perceive me as an introvert. Apart from blogging, social media is not something I’m a huge fan of, and there are times when I go days if not a couple of weeks not going on Facebook or Twitter. One reason is because of time, the other is the feeling of feeling overwhelmed by interaction.

      ‘introverts are more comfortable through written interaction?’ Excellent, excellent question, Balroop. I sense that you might have deep thoughts about this 😉 Writing is a form of communication where we have the opportunity to think before we write and say, slows down our mind and encourages us to think of the situation at hand. For introverts, writing out their thoughts and emtions can give them a sense of control in ‘social’ situations and interactions – and you don’t have to be present physically face-to-face with others to make a connection.

      So true peer group and bullying can impact on our personality. Some things we just never forget consciously and unconsciouly. I do believe there are introverts out there who are good at networking and have a lot of friends. But like you said, the introverts I know are very selective about their friends. Thank you for such a nuanced, well-thought out comment, Balroop. I’ve always pegged you as somewhat a bit more outgoing than an introvert, what with such expressive poems and words on social media.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. As I read this Mabel I felt like I was reading the story of my life. I prefer my own company and despite the friendly bubbly, persona I may try to generate on social media I am shy too. Social media is a safe outlet for me.

    Like you I experienced the benefit of rote learning and practising skills. Only a Chinese student would put dead rats in the freezer to practise dissection before a zoology examination.

    I grew up confident in what I knew well which allowed me to become a competent public speaker when the subject was something I was interested in, otherwise, I wouldn’t speak about something and in a crowd, I will be the one who listens and says next to nothing. Not because I have nothing to contribute, but because

    I judge my thoughts to be my own and always in need of refinement.

    I loved reading this post from you, Mabel. I think I may bookmark it and read it again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ‘I felt like I was reading the story of my life…may bookmark it and read it again’ That is such a compliment, Gaz. Thank you 😡😃

      Having followed your blog and social media over the last few years, you definitely come across as friendly and bubbly, and also very confident at what you do. And also prompt and approachable 😃 Dead rats in a freezer? Now you make me wish I took biology in school

      ‘I will be the one who listens and says next to nothing.’ Now this is me 99% of the time in social situations. You CANNOT beat me at this 😂 Definitely believe you when you say you are good at public speaking. After all, you do a podcast each week. Being good at something builds confidence within us but I suppose for introverts, our confidence comes out at a certain time and place, around certain people.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yay! I loved this blog for obvious reasons 🙂 thank you for mentioning me and our friendship. It meant a lot to me. I always think it is the highest compliment when an introvert wants to spend time with you. It means they value your company so much that they are willing to leave their comfort zone just to connect. I’m so glad you took a chance on me and even though we may not have a whole lot in common, I find you to be one of my dearest friends because despite both being extremely introverted, we want to make that effort to spend time together. If that isn’t true friendship I don’t know what is 🙂 ❤

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    • No, thank you my friend for reaching out to me. You don’t know how much I appreciated it even though I felt very scared when you kept commenting on my blog and wish you would go away! 😂 Beneath an introvert is often a big and kind heart, and that is you. And also Francis too – only met him a couple of times but he comes across as someone very thoughtful and caring, perfect for you.

      ‘I always think it is the highest compliment when an introvert wants to spend time with you.’ You said this so well and so passionately. Thank you for everything my friend x ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Years ago, my family took the Myers Briggs personality test. I am an introvert, although I didn’t need a test to figure that out. My poor daughter was the only extrovert in our house. This was the first time I heard about the four types of introverts. I took the quiz. 🤓 This was a wonderful post. I enjoy your writing.

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    • Thank you so much, Robin. Very kind of you to say. The Myers-Briggs test is fascinating and it can certainly be very accurate for some of us. Your daughter sounds very confident in herself 🙂 Hope that quiz was fun to do. It’s enlightening learning about oneself 🤓😊

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I straddle that line — sometimes I love being in a crowd, making people laugh, etc. But I can only take so much before I want to flee to a room with a book and a cat.

    I am large, I contain multitudes. Even when I want to be alone!

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  6. Another introvert here. What an interesting exploration on the different social and cultural and even neurological aspects of the introvert-extrovert divide. I’ve always found it unfortunate that so much of western society is geared towards assuming extrovert to be the healthy ideal… but maybe with the internet of things taking over that is slowly changing.

    And it is worth noting that shyness doesn’t necessarily mean being an introvert, although they can overlap. I’ve heard it said that many actors are introverts, and many extroverted people can be sensitive to others’ to the point of shyness. (Anxiety is also a whole other subject matter worth exploring, hope it can be dealt with!)

    In any case it would just be nice if everyone was allowed to be themselves, sometimes give other people a chance, and there was just less pressure in general 🙂

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    • Introversion, shyness and anti-social behaviour can certainly overlap..and also craziness and insanity. Interesting to hear many actors are introverts. Sometimes putting on a persona gives out true selves something to hide behind.

      If we all gave each other a chance – I like that feeling a lot. I’ve always thought of you as more of an extrovert, on the basis of you striking up random conversations now and again 😛

      Like

  7. Fellow introvert here. I loved how you tied your heritage and culture as part of the introversion. My grandparents are from Pakistan, and the Asian culture of tiger parents has been prevalent to a strong degree in our society as well. I’ve never read Carl Jung, but this is the second time I’ve seen him quoted in 2 days. Better look him up.

    I have written a piece this week on text messages as explained by an introvert. Would love it if you stopped by my blog for a comment. Thanks!

    Like

    • Never knew Tiger parents were a part of the culture over in your country. Fascinating to know, and it sounds like you may have similar experiences. Carl Jung’s literature is pretty broad, and delves a lot into psychology and how the mind works. Hope you get the time to check him out. Great blog by the way.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks for another engaging piece Mabel 🙂 I don’t often think about what I am regarding extrovert V introvert. Having said that – I can’t stand crowds or loud places (unless it is a loud waterfall), like you I perform better when I find myself alone in my laboratory (workplace) and I have a small circle (very small) of friends. I do have a lot of workmates from different ethnic backgrounds and they all seem to enjoy my company as much as I enjoy theirs at work, so I know I’m not too anti-social, maybe just reclusive. I have been so freaked out at a shopping centre by the noise and activity, that I have left the supermarket and left a full trolley of groceries in the aisle 😦 fortunately I hadn’t reached the checkout. Supposed to be 35deg here this weekend Mabel – aarrgh! thats too hot 🙂

    Like

    • You always strike me as someone gregarious…and I think it has something to do with that wide smile of yours 😀

      Reclusive. I like that word a lot. It sounds like you are that but personable, hence a good circle of friends around you 🙂 Sorry to hear about the shopping cart and the groceries 😦 It has happened to me before when I’ve gone shopping for clothes or household items – couldn’t bring myself to pay for them even at the self-checkout. ‘In and out’ of the shops never seems so hard, but for some of us, it’s a reality.

      35’C? Send that my way. We’ve only got 25’C 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Hello Mabel! I understand what you meant about your upcoming post now. (:

    Like you and most of the people above, I feel very much introverted, at least when in unfamiliar surroundings or among unfamiliar people (eg holidays overseas). I remember being surprised that a church friend said he considered himself introverted because as our community group leader he was always very bold and chatty in public – I supposed he had to be in his job as a senior in the organisation managing SRE in NSW schools. Often he would have to face the media to respond to accusations and allegations from various groups pushing their politically-correct agendas and ideologies. He always seemed to do well, but I didn’t realise how much work he had to put into that – it was draining for him. Similarly, the pastor in Wickham (who we work with on our trips to the Pilbara) also told me he considers himself an introvert. So boldly friendly in public in order to build relationships with the community… but it drains and tires him and he needs rest at home during the day to recuperate.

    So as you quoted from Susan Dembling, a primary factor is in which space one feels most energised. The distinction doesn’t preclude introverts from enjoying public engagements and extroverts from enjoying quiet ‘alone’ times. I had a conversation with one of my cousins (who now lives in Brisbane) on this topic and found that we share similar feelings about going to public engagements – often it’s a case of feeling comfortable at home, but once we overcome that initial reluctance to get out of the house and make the effort to attend, we almost always enjoy whatever it is we’re going to – Bible study, a party, a dinner with friends, or whatever. Not that we’d ‘party all night’ as some might, but we still enjoy our times out of the house as well as times in it.

    It’s interesting to see how cultural influence might play a role in a person’s development and personality. While I’ve said many times before I’m a banana – only lived in Western countries, only speak English fluently, have predominantly Caucasian friends and relationships, etc – and my parents are more Mauritian in culture than Chinese, I suppose there is still some Asian influence in my upbringing by virtue of my Chinese heritage. While my parents never pushed me hard in school (and never really had to as I was self-motivated) as I saw some of my Asian school friends experience (probably the ‘Tiger parents’ you mention), I did absorb some of that hard-working ethos in the way I do things and I notice that even now at work I will push myself to finish things off if I think I can rather than take the lazy option and ‘leave it for the next day’. That said, I also need to learn some wisdom and know when it’s time to ‘quit while ahead’ instead of staying back so late. XD

    With respect to work ethos (and its influence on personality), my understanding as a Christian is that there’s no legalistic requirement to operate in a certain way, only the advice (as the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Colossae – modern-day Turkey) to work with all your heart to honour God rather than Man. So as a child at home? Work hard whether in school studies or house chores to honour the parents I’ve been blessed with. As an adult at work? Work hard for the company that employs me because it blesses them and honours God so that I don’t disgrace his name with my laziness or misdemeanour.

    I don’t know if my parents fall strictly into any of the categories that Amy Chua describes – discipline, especially from my father, would perhaps be considered somewhat strict, at least when I was a young child, but I generally had a fair degree of freedom in what I could do during school years and after. I did learn to play the keyboard during school years, at some encouragement from Mum but mostly out of my own interest – I never got to the high grades that you probably did and never took any formal exams (I think I was playing pieces equivalent to grade 3 or some such), but ironically in my case I stopped because of pressure from my tutor to take exams and such rather than pressure from my parents.

    I remember during high school days I would sometimes go to the shops with various groups of friends, but seldom go for myself as I had little interest in shopping. (As an aside, your remarks about busy shopping centres reminded me of the first time I visited Toronto: https://wedge009.deviantart.com/art/Toronto-Eaton-Shopping-Centre-362171936 I tried to convey the busyness of all the consumers – there was a water fountain down below, I don’t recall if I had enough time to wait for it to spring to full height, though.) Like you, I caught the video game bug from childhood – partly from Dad (we’d experiment with an ancient TV-based home computer during my school holidays) and partly from friends (still remember playing Super Mario Bros 3 at a friend’s place after primary school) – I sometimes wonder if I would have turned out more socially inclined if I hadn’t. But maybe I would still enjoy games even then – for all the negative stereotypes about games only being for nerdy, introverted boys cooped up in their rooms, I find games to be just another medium for telling great stories (I enjoy story-based games the most). Books and theatre, radio and television and cinema, these are all media for captivating audiences with compelling tales, so why not games too?

    I’d agree with Jenn Granneman, I do think I have pretty small social circles as a result of being introverted. In the same conversation with the aforementioned cousin living in Brisbane, he noted that as we get older the barriers to overcome in meeting new people seem to increase (we become accustomed to what we are used to, whether consciously or not). I don’t go ‘clubbing’ or to random parties (nor would I want to) and my social gatherings are nowadays usually small groups over dinner and board/card games rather than the big birthday parties of my school and uni days. It certainly makes it harder to meet new women – I remember getting along well with girl from another school at TAFE accounting class for our HSC, and also a rather exuberant ever-cheerful girl while working at Target in my uni years (pretty hard to remain down when around bright and bubbly personalities!), but with things generally remaining pretty constant for me nowadays those kinds of opportunities just don’t happen any more.

    What I did notice about the overseas Asian students at university was that they would tend to conglomerate to the exclusion of others – particularly those from Hong Kong. Of course, on one level, that seems reasonable as most people would mingle with those who are most like them. It’s the ‘exclusion of others’ part that I didn’t enjoy so much. I remember my Asian classmates in high school – many of them from Hong Kong – wouldn’t exhibit this behaviour to such a strong degree and would generally mix with others fairly well. Maybe it’s because a lot of them were Australian-born and so had some exposure to Western culture too.

    I find it interesting that your parents would ask that of you about your colleagues. As for my team at work, it happens that most of us are of Asian or Indian descent – one Caucasian is Aussie-born but with a Uruguayan family background – but we all relate in English fluently. One of the actuarial teams I used to work with is almost exclusively (if not exclusively) composed of people of Asian descent (even with varying mixes of Asian and Aussie backgrounds). When I was on a secondment, one of my team mates enquired as to my level of English capability (before she met me – self-confessed, she was the one who told me this story). Our manager simply said ‘just wait till you meet him’. Apparently I was a pleasant surprise for her because a lot of the Asians she had to work with didn’t speak/write English very well.

    That’s an interesting bit of information regarding extroverts and dopamine. For me, it’s not so much that I *prefer* to be alone so much as I find it uncomfortable in unfamiliar social circumstances. It’s a disincentive to socialise rather than an incentive to stay alone.

    I definitely agree that not all Asians are introverted – not sure if that’s really a stereotype or not. I remember a primary school friend who was always joking around and fun to be with. Similarly, a high school friend is also very outgoing and loves socialising. I don’t think that both of them are Koreans has anything to do with that – after all, two is not a significant sample size – but certainly you can find introverts and extroverts in all cultures.

    Introverted? Shy? Anti-social? I think I qualify for the first two, but not the last. I imagined you being quite exuberant at your concerts, I don’t typically think of that as introverted behaviour but as you say, you often go to them alone. I’ve usually preferred to see movies with friends but in recent years I tend to go on my own out of necessity rather than preference. Your ideal weekend sounds like a great weekend to me too! Even though it’d probably be considered ‘boring’ by extroverts.

    Interesting experience with the saleswoman. Not that I go shopping often but when I do, I sometimes get asked if I need assistance (as any good customer assistant should do), in which case I just say ‘no thanks’ or ‘just looking’. And that’s fine, I think. There are times when I notice I get overlooked for assistance too, even if I don’t want/need it anyway. Racism at work? Maybe not – after all I’m quite small and I’ve seen studies that suggest sales staff will notice certain kinds of customers ahead of others. I don’t know – I just don’t think you can draw too many conclusions out of a single encounter.

    It’s true that even introverts can have their time ‘in the spotlight’. I had to take on MC duties as part of working at a Roman Catholic Collage in 2008 (despite not being a Catholic myself). The church friend I mentioned above having to face public media. My local Anglican bishop, Ivan Lee, is the first Anglican bishop of Chinese descent in Australia and obviously has to perform many speaking roles as part of his ministry, and he’s always been warm and friendly in the services I’ve seen him in, even in spite of his terminal illness. It can still be tough to speak up at times though, regardless of being an introvert or not. Thinking about the current postal survey and political climate in Australia and the huge biased message coming from media, the public conversation, on-line social media, and all the rest of it, it is incredibly difficult to – however lovingly and respectfully – voice an idea counter to popular opinion without being shouted down in vicious hostility. Is it easier to just sit back and stay silent in the background? Certainly. But sometimes when you care about other people you have to make a stand for what you believe is right even if those people would violently disagree with you.

    I know how you feel about public speaking – when I’ve had to do it, I can sometimes finish with my hands shaking even tough I was relatively calm before and during speaking. But that still sounded like a wonderful opportunity to speak to that high school. We talked before about how you still encounter racism today while I’ve been fortunate not to since school days, at least not so overtly. I read your 2013 post and thought how similar your experiences were could equally apply to Indigenous Aussies. Among those who at least try to live among and work with ‘white’ Australia, I imagine there’s that same struggle to juggle their cultural heritage with that of white Australia.

    Since you converse so well in your posts and commentary replies, I’ve imagined you as a rather sociable being, so it’s interesting to read you feeling like it’s such an effort, sometimes overwhelmingly so, to engage with everyone. I can imagine it’s hard to keep up with so many replies. Still, that’s a wonderful story of how you got to know Rebecca. Funnily enough, while I feel uncomfortable with meeting strangers in person, if I’ve engaged with people on-line and have some idea of what they’re like, I’d be keen to meet in person should such an opportunity arise. I haven’t done that many times – I can recall meeting a friend from Poland (currently working in Queensland) that I knew for years before we saw each other in person in Sydney. Also a deviantARTist from Perth, when she was in Sydney for a convention. I also met a friend in Boston last year. Rare opportunities, but I find it good to meet someone in person after conversing on-line for whatever length of time. I’m glad that you found that with Rebecca too despite your initial hesitation.

    I’m not sure how I would classify the people I interact with. As I mentioned, I might think of many as being extroverted but they say they are introverted. I love meeting exuberant (extroverted or otherwise) people, I’m good at replying to conversation, less so at starting it. So I’d find it hard to engage with a withdrawn introvert as opposed to someone who already likes engaging in conversation. I suppose that’s evident in my verbose commentary! I might not know how to start a conversation, but I can speak/write to it. I apologise for the length of the message, but in fairness you did write a rather long post, plus I said in your last post that I would save it for this one. 😉 Thanks for sharing yet another well thought-out and written post.

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    • This post is probably the most challenging ones to write on not just a personal level, but on the expressive and writing side too. Got where I could with it in the end.

      The story you shared about your church friend and community leader was particularly interesting. Sounds like had quite a bit of responsiblity, and as such others in his group would be looking to him for guidance and he would have to have to put himself out there, speak up and lead. With leading, often there are unexpected situations and questions leaping out at you and a lot of the time, you are put on the spot – which would explain why he found it draining as an introvert, but I am also guessing rewarding just like the pastor in Wickham you speak of.

      Like you and your cousin, I too enjoy time outside with company when opportunity and time permits. From what you are describing, it seems going out once a week for a public engagement or a catch up with someone or attending an occasion with them is doable, perhaps even more so if you know you’d be in not just welcoming but quality company.

      You do sound like the hardworking kind 😀 It’s a good trait to have, but also one where you have to block out others a lot of the time in order to be of that character. In your case, it seems that your personality could be influenced by your peers and in due part was a personal choice of yours. I do remember when I saw my classmates with their heads bent over their desks practicing sums, that made me put my head down and work too – for fear of coming in last. It’s the same deal with me at work these days where I like to sit quietly and work – not for fear of being caught out being chatty by the bosses but because I want to be part of the team.

      I never always got high grades for piano. A pass is a pass. The higher you climb, the more challenging and isolating it is. It’s lonely at the top no matter how many are cheering you from below XD Love that long exposure there, and a very clear shot in a busy shopping centre. It is great camera work there, and looking at the photo, I can certainly feel a strong sense of movement in all directions.

      Jenn Grannman’s ideas on introverts on highly sensitive comes across as particularly interesting (all very positive), and I’m hoping to check out more on her blog and book on introversion. You mentioned ‘nowadays those kinds of opportunities just don’t happen any more.’ I think this is so true for many of us in general. The older we get, the more reclusive we get, or the more we realise what’s comfortable to us and stick with it as a safety net. Along with that, I personally think every person you encounter thereafter no matter how brief – and also catchups with those you know – is all the more special – and maybe make us more appreciative of them.

      It is heartening to hear the diversity in the places you’ve worked in, and how accepting they have been of what you do and who you are, not-so-loud and all 🙂

      ‘…a disincentive to socialise rather than an incentive to stay alone.’ I actually never thought of it this way. Very good point = socialising isn’t appealing, and that is the turn off from mixing and mingling as opposed to a strong love for being alone. Chewing on this train of thought, I’d say one would very much like to be with someone rather than be alone – and could be classified as a ‘social introvert’ = one of the four kinds of introverts which I very briefly touched upon in this post.

      It is hard to hear you say you feel nervous about public speaking though you do some MC gigs for the collage and if I remember correctly, your church as well. Agree with you that if it’s a subject we’re passionate about, the more comfortable we may be speaking out. Multiculturalism and cultural nuances are topics I’m passionate about, but still I don’t ever find it easy to speak let alone write about it – it can be uncomfortable, confronting. But for most part I find expressing it all thr most challenging and it can take a lot of time expressing things in an understandable manner to an audience.

      Sociable is the last word I’d used to describe myself 😂 I could hang out and listen to someone talk for an hour and not speak a word and I’d be perfectly okay with that. It is nice to hear that you’ve met people randomly online, far and wide, and they sound like genuine people. Blogging and sharing my writing online over various outlets has certainly brought me many connections. Some I’ve met in real life like Rebecca, others I have decided to turn down meet-up invitations just because I didn’t want to meet up for one reason or another. Perhaps I am more guarded than most, or I could just be really cautious about personal safety and privacy. I do wish you find many more wonderful connections in the online world 🙂

      No need to apologise for the lengthy comment, Simon. I’d like to take this space to thank you for being so thoughtful and insightful with your words on here. Each of your comments is a pleasure to read and I’m sure others take away something from what you’ve said. I do appreciate the time you take to read, and even more so to contribute to the discussion. It never fails to be a fun time reading your comments, and you do give me a lot to think about.

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      • You’re very courageous to continue sharing such personal thoughts and feelings. Good on you!

        The difficulty is facing people who would publicly attack you, your people, and what you represent. To stay calm, and respond respectfully, even lovingly to those who hate you, that’s really hard. I don’t think I could do it! But I suppose this is one of his gifts and part of why he’s now a minister in Shellharbour City (just south of Wollongong). I miss him and his family, but it’s best that he put his talents to best use, introverted or not. And yes, it’s rewarding too, both for him and the Wickham pastor.

        Yeah, once a week is probably my limit. More than that feels a bit much, but maybe that’s more because of the time constraints that work puts, rather than an aversion to social gatherings, at least for me.

        Yes, it’s difficult to focus on an important task when you have others demanding your attention. A bit like how you said you feel more productive when the office is empty. 😉 I start early (to avoid peak hour) so I can get a lot done in the first 2-3 hours before people arrive.

        Not sure about my classmates being an influence on me in that way. A lot of the Asians were diligent in their work, perhaps overly so. There was some friendly competition too, but I think a lot of the drive came from parents’ expectations. Are your colleagues the quiet, hard-working type too? My office, since we’re packed together so tightly now, can be quite noisy, but among my team-mates we can be chatty at times too. It’s fine because we get the work done anyway, and our leader is in Melbourne too.

        Maybe I should have made it clearer – it sounds like you reached high grades for piano. My girlfriend in high school did something similar to you… don’t remember if she took pleasure in the playing for herself, but I think she did. I remember staying in the music room during lunch on occasions and we’d play together… but she was way better than I was, of course. I suppose only those who get to the very, very top get to play in those prestigious orchestras and such, to make it really worthwhile.

        Thanks, would have been better to go longer but I was shooting free-hand.

        Reluctance to go beyond the familiarity of the day-to-day certainly feels like a barrier and as we get older we become more ingrained in our routines. New encounters are certainly brief… and often hard to come back for a second round, I think.

        My workplace is another of those that promotes ‘Diversity’, but only the politically-correct sort, not genuine diversity. Still, it’s good to have a mix in the office, though with overseas contracting we’ve had a lot more Indians come in. And my team certainly values me, which is nice. But maybe that’s because they wouldn’t remember/know how to do a lot of things without me!

        Yeah, in my case it’s the effort of actually stepping out and going somewhere that can be a barrier, especially if it’s an engagement where I don’t know as many people and it’s more comfortable or just easier to just stay indoors. Once settled in at the engagement, everything is fine, usually. Maybe that’s just my experience with anxiety. I like being around certain people and there are times when I’m at home alone and cry out for companionship. So yeah, for me it’s more a case of struggling to socialise rather than specifically wanting to be alone.

        The MC thing was only for a year – can’t remember if it was weekly or monthly. Yes, I sometimes give the Bible reading at my church though that’s fine because I’m simply reading and it seems to help people when they hear God’s word clearly and at a good pace. I don’t think I’ve made any major public speeches since school, though I’ve had to share things at department updates at work on occasion. In any sort of public speaking, it can be hard to form your thoughts into a coherent line of discussion, especially when it’s impromptu. So yeah, I’m with you, sounds like we both find public speaking difficult, shouldn’t be hard to hear that. 😉

        Maybe it’s because you express yourself so well, at least in written form. I was thinking that we (at least those of us who haven’t met you in person) only see this side of you, and whether you’d be really quiet in person but you express yourself the most in your posts. Reminds me of the Apostle Paul, so bold in his writings, but apparently quite ‘unremarkable’ in person, even seen as weak by some. I can understand you wanting to take care with your safety. Meeting in public places is a good part of that. After all, there’s countless stories of people who have turned out to be total and utter creeps in real life. I hope both of us can continue having good experiences meeting on-line friends in person.

        I feel bad because you say responding to everyone is ‘overwhelming’. But if you find value in conversing with me and everyone else, I take your word for it. 🙂 Thanks for being willing to read and write to everyone.

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        • You bring up such a good point there – keeping calm and not running away when someone attacks you. Anyone who puts themselves out there to lead or to speak is very much vulnerable. I suppose extroverts deal with this better since they are the kind who thrive on having others around them. Maybe one day you can catch up with your pastor friend.

          It depends on the day on whether or not my office is the quiet, hard-working type. Some days are slower than others; on these slow days we’re generally quieter working independently on individual projects outside of our daily tasks. On busier days and peak periods, we are much more boisterous and chatty, sharing what’s going on each side of the room to one another. On that thought, you got me thinking: perhaps the company we keep can influence whether we’re more introverted or extroverted over time. For instance, the more comfortable you are working at some place, the more you might open up and be confident expressing yourself on the job, to your colleagues and maybe elsewhere too.

          It sounded like both you and your girlfriend at the time had a lot of things in common. In a way playing music together can be an intimate affair, which I hope brought the two of you closer together then 🙂

          ‘often hard to come back for a second round…Once settled in at the engagement, everything is fine, usually. ‘ Getting older, you do wonder when someone will let their guard down and let you in to their lives – and I think it’s a constant uphill work-in-progress. On settling in at engagement, for me its either finding a spot to sit alone and listen to a speech or performance, or finding someone to have a conversation with post-pleasantries.

          I have a feeling you are more comfortable at public speaking than me. Your MC gig at your church comes across as something regular, and you must have been good – with engaging words of wisdom – at it to do it for quite a while 🙂

          It really does feel overwhelming each time I a post goes up here, and to see people actually respond blows my mind away 😨 But writing is the best way I express myself – not because it lets me think what I want to say, but it comes to me very naturally. Unremarkable would actually be a good word to describe meeting me in person – for some reason other expect me to be chatty 😂 It seems you are comfortable expressing yourself with writing too, and I thank you for stopping by so often, and for your time and heart.

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          • That’s the plan! Thankfully Shellharbour City is only about 110 minutes by car from where I am in Sydney.

            In my office we can chat among ourselves even if we’re still working on things individually. And with teams all being mixed together we can hear others’ conversations too, which is why I generally stick to my closed headphones to keep the noise out (down side of cramming too many staff together). But if something is going on that doesn’t involve being in a specific team to know what’s going on, we will sometimes have a good collective chat. Not sure if that necessarily lends us towards introversion or extroversion one way or another, but maybe you’re right about the circumstances having an influence on us.

            Ah, she did most of the playing. Plus we had a couple of friends with us too, so it’s not like it was that kind of environment. Probably wouldn’t have been allowed in the room by ourselves if it was just the two of us. Year 9 kids being what they generally are. 😉

            Uphill battle indeed. ‘Breaking the ice’, particularly as introverts, can be incredibly difficult. At least I find it so. Not exactly helpful, yet still seemingly accurate, I recall the tongue-in-cheek dating ‘advice’ on meeting new people: ‘be attractive; don’t be unattractive’.

            Maybe I might handle public speaking a bit better than you do. Without hearing or seeing you speak we can’t really tell. 😉 I was MC at the Roman Catholic college for just one year, I take turns reading the Bible at my church with numerous other people, it’s all part of serving each other. More commonly I’m in the ‘back-end’ roles – no less significant, but less visible – like working the projector, cleaning, and looking after and teaching young children in crèche. Similar to what we do in the Pilbara – I’m not so involved in the direct face-to-face interactions so much as the support things like cooking and cleaning, packing and blogging. Even as introverts, we still have a valuable role to play in community. 😀

            You mean respond in a constructive way that’s relevant to what you’re discussing? 😉 I’ve mentioned before it’s a refreshing environment in contrast to what I see so often on-line, of the flippant one-word or one-line responses that are all too often hostile in nature. It’s good to see you use your gift in writing this way and all the more blessing to you that you’re able to interact with the wider world like this. Maybe some day I can see for myself how chatty – or not – you really are in person, if you would be so inclined. 😉 Thank you again for sharing of yourself with me and everyone else.

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            • Sometimes if I want to be alone, say drown out some loud chatter around me, like you I’d put on my headphones. But in general, I am quite good at drowning out talk talk around me. Maybe it’s a trait many of us introverts have, to ignore the world around us when we feel like it.

              Breaking the ice is probably many introvert’s worst nightmare. There have been many occasions where I recall I was in a new situation with a bunch of strangers or people I don’t know too well, work and social situations. We had to pair off and make introductions and it’s almost always a challenge for me to say something about myself, for not wanting to get personal and also because getting to know people isn’t always something I’m comfortable with. On dating, it can certainly be harder for introverts, putting their heart and persona out there because inevitably, you have to put yourself out there to others. For some, it may gradually happen and it ends up being a relief and very much special.

              I stuttered a lot of as a kid, and in situations where I have to be in front of many people, sometimes that comes back. So, I am very much inclined to think you are the better public speaker among us two 🙂 That is so true. Doing the background tasks have more significance than many of us like to give credit for. Sometimes this is what keeps the show running, and good on you for doing what you’re comfortable with.

              Exactly, and I do remember you mentioning this before. It always surprises me how constructive people can be on here in the comments section, and at the same time being so open and honest. I’m always open to connecting with online blogging connections in real life, time and opportunity permitting. It’s always a possibility. Thank you kindly 🙂

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              • Sometimes if I’m ‘in the zone’ of my work thoughts, I can manage without headphones, but a lot of the time the noise around me is an annoying distraction. You’re clearly better at blocking it out than I am. (:

                Oh, forced pairings in things like workshops or training can be awful. Although my cosmopolitan family background can be a point of interest that I often fall back on since I’m generally not that interesting in myself at first glance. I think being out of my comfort zone – being apart from the familiar – raises my anxiety when meeting strangers, less so than not wanting to share of myself. In a dating context, that goes back to my comment about the difficulty negotiating any ‘second encounter’ – I can never tell if there’s genuine interest or conversation was only made for the sake of being polite!

                That’s quite all right – I’m sure you already know that British King George VI suffered a similar speech impediment, as made famous by The King’s Speech movie, and he seemed to manage okay. All the more remarkable, then, that you step up to public speaking in spite of this! (:

                Being less visible doesn’t necessarily mean you’re less appreciated, if you’re in a community that values and cares for one another. 😉

                It’s fun conversing with you because of the culture of constructive communication you’ve cultivated here (alliteration not intended). We’ll see what the future holds. Good on you, Mabel, and thanks again.

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                • Forced pairings are inevitable. Ultimately I think all of us walk away from having tried being a part of something and you figure out who you are and what you want.

                  ‘Being less visible doesn’t necessarily mean you’re less appreciated, if you’re in a community that values and cares for one another. ‘ This is very well said and I love it. That said, I think a lot of us find it hard to find a community, and as time goes on, the smaller our circles can be.

                  I LOVE alliteratation and that phrase is absolutely wonderful. Might steal it from you sometime and let you know where it ends up 😛

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                  • As a church family it also helps to know that our intrinsic worth doesn’t come from ourselves or what others think of us, but how God values us (ref: Christmas/Easter stories). 😉 That’s ultimately what compels and drives us to do what we can for each other as fellow beings, not out of obligation but mutual love.

                    Ha ha, honestly it wasn’t intended but then I read over it and thought the alliteration sounded a bit unusual. Hence the disclaimer. But if you want to use it or something like it, fine by me. 😀

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  10. Wearing one’s chaos inside couched in a smile for the external world may define an introvert. Your varied insights on the subject makes an absorbing read, Mabel. Like the indispensability of polar opposites, the world needs the depth inherent in still waters of introvertism and the width obtainable in the boisterous, surface currents of extrovertism.

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    • You described introversion so well, Raj. Sometimes introverts are calm on the outside, but chaotic on the inside. In a way, they are great actors under pressure, and thoughtful ones at that. Sometimes you’ll just never know with introverts. Thank you so much for supporting as usual, my friend.

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  11. Mabel I applaud you for sharing so much of yourself with all of us. It will come as no surprise that after doing the Myers Briggs test I am an extrovert in the extreme side of the scale. However as I have aged I do tend to like quiet time in my own more and more. It makes me wonder if I were to take the test now if the scores would be different. Can they change over time? Having one of my children be an introvert did present some challenges but it also taught me a great deal of sensitivity toward introverts. Your post really has me reflecting and good for me to again think about how overwhelming we extroverts can be to others.

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    • When we met up, I never would have guessed a part of you was an extreme extrovert. Chatty, friendly and approachable, yes, but also very attentive too. Never overwhelming (that said, I was starstruck meeting you). Personalities change over time, and maybe you will get a different result if you took the Myers-Briggs test again 🙂

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  12. Mabel, this post is well researched and spoke my mind on most points. I prefer to call myself an ambivert. I feel lonely in crowd and I draw energy from within. I enjoy knowing people and talking to them. I want my me time but I am okay to meet a stranger in a cafe. I appear very talkative but I don’t have a lot of friends. My bunch is from childhood and handful. Being an Asian, I agree that we learn best by repeating and we are very hard working.
    There, I said it.
    I want to read Susan Cain. Great post!

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    • It sounds like you are very flexible and fluid, Parul. I’ve always pictured you as someone who is energetic and ready to speak up…so I’m half correct 😀 Having just a bunch of friends, but if they are friends you can count on, then you are very lucky.

      Susan Cain has some great ideas, and I also want to read her work again. Thank you so much for stopping by.

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  13. You know me, Mabel, so you definitely know my gripe with the “Are there Asians?” question from parent to child. Ugh. Just… why? I can’t understand why Asian parents get so hung up on this almost necessity or interest that their child be around other Asian people. For my dad, it’s not even “Asian”. He just straight up asks if there were other Chinese people there. What do other random Chinese people have to do with me? They could be American-born like me, true, but they could also be from anywhere from China, to Singapore, to Thailand, or Vietnam or Hawaii. Just because another person with me is Chinese doesn’t mean I immediately am connected to the person because of bloodline or racial identity.

    My parents have never said they prefer me to stay home, but I can obviously tell they prefer it. Even before I make plans to go out, my dad is already asking me the night before if I am going out tomorrow. I feel him asking me like that really inhibits me from being social or getting out there sometimes and makes me feel as if he looks down on me putting myself out there. Then there’s also the sheltered view he and my mom have of the city and how dangerous it is, which is kinda ridiculous since I grew up here. That’s not to say they aren’t allowed to be concerned for me and tell me to be safe, but I do not appreciate the coddling from my dad in particular as if he thinks I am going to be instantly raped or kidnapped if I stay out after dark hours (8 PM is not late, okay) and/or come home after the sun has set.

    I am an introvert at heart, but I also am not about to stay home all day for almost everyday of the week like I used to when I was sad and depressed all the time. I feel my mom fits more in the category of a “true” introvert, in that she is comfortable mostly being home and entertaining herself with watching tv or her iPad and doesn’t feel the need to keep to people except to a select and small number of friends. I have days like that when I’m fine staying in, but if I had to do that everyday like she does I would die of boredom.

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    • ‘Are there Asians?’ ‘Are there Chinese?’ ‘Are they all gwei lo/Westerners?’ Definitely can symphatise with you, Nat. Your dad really is very specific. With the older generation, maybe they’ve gotten by with the help of those with similar background, like help from other Chinese in the case of your dad – and so he sees that demographic as trustworthy. But I definitely agree with you that a lot of the time, people of the same background might not be someone you are connected with in the hereditry sense – and you might not even get along in the first place.

      Sometimes my parents like to ask me my plans in advance, and that’s because they probably want to catch up with me at some point over lunch or dinner. But I can understand where you are coming from and when you say your parents are worried you are out in the city. There are times when my parents will over and over again point me in the ‘right direction’ in places where I know how to get around. Fact is, millions of people go out at night and have a good night and come home safe. That said, I do like it when me and my friends catch up and then we go home, we text each other to say we’ve made it home safely.

      I like following your days going out and about in your blog 🙂 They seem simple but you always highlight things you quietly observe and to me, that is what makes you and your life as an introvert so interesting 🙂 Like you, there are days when I want to go out and just see the world as it is, and I do – and it is usually a good time with a close friend or just me by myself and no stranger interrupting me.

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      • Perhaps, yes, my dad leans more towards his own racial demographic. I feel he judges other Asians (outside of Chinese) pretty unfairly. I also think he has a pretty narrow view of people and race. He has assumed in some situations when people treat him badly that it’s because they don’t like Chinese people. One time he didn’t like how the bus driver acted towards him, but because the bus driver was Korean, he immediately went to, “Oh, he probably doesn’t like Chinese people”. One of my cousins was dating a Korean man at one point and my dad kept insisting to me that my cousin would probably not be accepted by the man’s parents because Koreans hate Chinese. Like, okay, I’m sure there are people like that, but it doesn’t mean all Korean people in general loath Chinese people. I mean, just to think about the Korean-Chinese entertainmeny industry. How many times have Korean and Chinese actors worked together in dramas or collaborated together for album songs?

        Our parents are way too overprotective! The treat us like little babies when we are adults. I hate it when my dad is so concerned about how I am getting around on the subway and telling me what train to take for what stop even if I have the route planned out.

        Thanks for the compliments! The recent blog prompts I have been doing really have helped me come up with other things to write about. It surprised me. Getting out to see the world is nice. Everyone has their own comfort level with what they are interested in doing and for now long. It matters to do what suits you and not feel pressured to be more sociable or busy because other people wish you were this way.

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        • It sounds like your dad might be overreacting to the Korean bus driver and that is sweeping assumption, assuming Koreans do not like Chinese. It is very odd to me how someone can generalise people based on one incident. Different Asian groups have their differences and they may not always get along – just like everyone and anyone really regardless of their background. That said, I’ve come across a few people (our generation) who think like your dad and prefer to be close knit to people who are similar to them culturally most of the time.

          I don’t know if you feel this way, but I feel embarrassed when my parents tell me to take this way, and even tell me where to go to eat and what to buy in the shops because it is ‘good’. In a way its suffocating and it is in these instances I just want to be left alone on my own even more. Sometimes someone’s concern (well meaning or simply insistence) can be a push for someone to be even more introverted.

          Really like your writing and how you express your ideas and feelings, Nat 🙂

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          • Yes, my dad is overreacting to the Korean bus driver not allegedly liking him because he is Chinese. My parents are prejudice. I think that is the main problem. The number of Chinese has been booming in our neighborhood for years now but now there are a growing number of Muslim families that live across the street or nearby. I have heard my dad make unflattering comments about being careful when walking past a Muslim because they might have explosives, which is very offensive and so not right. He shouldn’t be making them into a stereotype or judging them for their religion. Him doing that reminds me of when I was a kid and some people assumed all Chinese people eat dogs.

            I feel embarrassed when my dad tells me this and that too. It’s incredibly annoying and I completely agree with you about how suffocating it feels to be on the receiving end of such “advice” and it just makes me want to be alone and/or away from people even more.

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            • Making discriminatory comments about other races or someone of different background is a close-minded thing to do. Like in the case of your dad, it just encourages us to keep to ourselves and believe that we’re above others.

              Sometimes I wonder if we can really live on our own. That is, live far away from bloodline family and get by. I suppose you can if you have a good network of friends. It’s possible in my opinion; you just got to be very aware of your surroundings and who you are.

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  14. Thanks for illuminating cultural ideas and your background as well as other specifically personal traits/experiences. I do ponder my German-Irish heritage and how it impacted my growing up, as well as being raised by a musician and conductor amid classical music and lots of studying and performances: i other words, achievement was critical to our family’s functioning and expectations. I think the vigorous discipline of playing cello and being imbued with classical music had the greatest effect but I was already becoming a writer as a child, a figure skater, a dancer, etc. This is how our family lived and it created a solitariness that was a requirement of becoming well disciplined. Yet, in the end (I am 67 now), I also enjoy being around and learning about others (I was a counselor and other positions in human services for my career). Truly, I feel a bit fortunate, as I am at home being introverted and alone as well being somewhat extroverted! Best regards and good fortune with writing aspirations.

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    • That is such an interesting background you come from – studying classical music and playing cello. I’m guessing with the cello, often you get to be a part of an orchestra, so as much as music is an isolating activity, it can also be very much a team effort.

      But also very nice to hear that you are a writer too 🙂 There is always much to learn from others, and I think in anything that we do, we have to learn from others to improve – and often that might mean being a bit extroverted. Sounds like you got that balance, and you sound like such a confident person. Thank you so much, Cynthia. Wishing you well too.

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      • That balance changes with life’s demands and opportunities and also aging, I think. Not sure about such confidence but I do have self acceptance and welcome life as it comes with faith, hope and curiosity! Thanks for interacting–yes, we learn from each other so that is a surprise gift of blogging here, too.

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  15. Aloha Mabel – and first thing I want to say that once again your photographs are stunning. Just beautiful.

    Secondly, I am a straight-up introvert, no contest. BUT. You brought up a very good distinction: “It’s one thing to be introverted, and another thing to be shy, and another to be antisocial.” I am Not shy and I border on being antisocial. I can ‘do’ people, but I have my limits – I get overstimulated quite easily. My upbringing would not have allowed me to be shy – so I do think there is something in how one is raised, that way. But I was always extremely sensitive. Still am.

    Over the years I have learned what my limits are. If I must go to town every couple of weeks, I prepare mentally for it. I load up a podcast or audiobook or good music, plug my ears with earbuds and put on a large-brimmed hat and sunglasses – IN the car. This allows me to at least have 3 total hours of driving but still be ‘in my private zone.’ So the time I must interface with vendors in town is taxing, yes, but less so than it would be if I was ‘on’ from the moment I left my door.

    We go to very few social gatherings. Very few, though we do know some good people. We both prefer our own company – together or alone – or very small/contained social situations. I prefer them because we can talk about things that matter, not just flit from person to person spouting ‘pleasantries.’

    Thanks for the interesting post! 🙂

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    • Thank you so much, Bela. I had such a fun time shooting each photo in the post. I wish you could see these sunsets for real.

      Aha, you mentioned the word sensitive. Now that you mention it, there’s: introvert, shy, antisocial senstive (highly senstiive person) – and while each of these traits are distinct, they can also overlap. I’ve always thought of you as not shy, definitely, considering how confidently you come across in expressing your voice through your poetry. As artists, we observe the world around us and probably do that deeply to understand what’s going on – and that might explain the times you feel overstimulated.

      ‘I prepare mentally for it.’ That gives a sense of security and control as much as you can. I can just imagine you with the large hat and sunglasses, cruising down a quiet road with music keeping you company – your happy place 🙂

      Spouting pleasantries isn’t my thing either (even talking about the weather can be painful for me if it’s with a stranger), like you I prefer contained socialisation. Talking about things that matter, you connect with others on a deeper level and that itself is a very rewarding feeling words can’t describe. Thank you so much, Bela ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  16. An interesting take on the subject, as always, Mabel (and wonderful photos). I too am an introvert although if you asked those around me they would say I am an extrovert. This is only because I’ve learned how to relate to others and pushed myself to overcome my natural inclinations. My husband, on the other hand, is an extrovert and feeds off of the energy of being around many others. I like to say that he makes our friends and I keep them. 😊 A good friend once told me the way to get along with anyone is to simply ask them about themselves, and most people will then happily talk your ear off. I turned that advice into a successful career in sales and sales management – where it’s is very important to get along with people and have them like you. It was always a challenge for me to overcome my preference for quiet and solitude. Now that we are retired I cherish my alone time and love nothing more than a quiet evening at home. So I suppose I’m an introvert in extrovert’s clothing!! Thanks for pushing us to think about subjects like this which are usually not at the top of our minds!

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    • I always pegged you as an extrovert, Tina. Maybe you hide your introverted side very well 🙂 Sounds like you and your husband make a good team – and your different personalities help each other out. It is an interesting piece of advice your friend gave you. If someone I didn’t know asked me about myself, I would be very hesitant to open up to them, no matter what they were trying to sell me lol. That’s just the introvert and shy person in me, I suppose. Nice to hear you enjoy quiet now – and you probably do when you work on your photography, which is always ace 🙂

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  17. Wow! You’ve poured your heart out, Mabel! I hear you. I’ve been an introvert for most of my life and have occasionally faked being an extrovert. I prefer to spend time alone and get lost in my thoughts too. I’m not sure if culture has anything to do with introversion. Language or being the odd one out might make people look introverted or shy. It’s easy to stereotype from thereon. 😦

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    • I think you said it, poured your heart out. This was not an easy piece to write 😦 Your blog posts come across as very reflective and thoughtful, and sounds fitting that you are an introvert. Basil sounds like an extrovert, though, given he can be a bit cheeky at times 😉

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      • Basil is one of a kind. I can’t quite place him as an introvert or extrovert. Yes! He’s cheeky all the time. You sound like my mum! lol. Definitely a favourite of the mother-in-law. Hugs! Have a great week, Mabel. It’s so good to connect with you.

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  18. I’ve been an introvert myself. Before marriage, I had a lot of time to introspect, ponder, analyse, judge – those myriad and varied thoughts circling and confining me so much that I’d found a world within myself. I could spend a whole day in a room and won’t get bored. Yes, a lot of that was because I was brought up in a very protective family. My parents had smelled danger everywhere 🙂 We’d therefore missed interacting with some good people.

    Though I’m a husband and a father now – which push me to socialize, interact, chat, initiate – I seek moments of introversion. I know that I’m socializing and internalizing at the same time. I understand the importance of extroversion and how those who are extroverts appear to be living their lives. If an introvert or extrovert knows well that they are that, there’s perhaps no issue because they’ve recognized themselves and are happy following that path. The issue is probably with those who’re stuck between the two extremes. However, there’s a beautiful level of moderation in the middle which if one realizes, one may live stress-free.

    “Countless times I’ll walk into a clothes shop, drift past a silent white saleslady staring me down. I’ll then hear her greet someone behind me. I’ll glance around and see a white girl walking in, the white saleslady all smiles with her” – instances like these have happened several times and I only justify them by saying that I was different and had stood out 🙂

    This post, like each of your posts, Mabel, has brought to light issues we seldom discuss and if we do, don’t go deep enough to gain a wholesome understanding.

    Thank you!

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    • ‘I could spend a whole day in a room and won’t get bored.’ This is so me, Mahesh. I could do that and it would turn out to be a great day. The mind and imagination is a powerful thing, and you probably thought up a lot of stories back then. These days, it sounds like putting out there and being a family person has had its rewards too and floats your boat 🙂

      You touched on a great point there, on finding a balance between two extreme kinds of personalities. There will always be a time when we have to put ourselves out there, and a time to keep to ourselves for the benefit of circumstances or feelings of those around us if we care (probably a lof of us do). That said, I often wonder if extroverts are as happy and upbeat as they seem to be while holding court or giving a speech.

      Stood out. You hit the nail on the head, and that’s exactly how I feel about each incident in the shopping centre where I seemed to rub others the wrong way. I don’t mind being a unique person with my unique traits, but I am not a fan of being put in the spotlight for it.

      Thank you, thank you for coming by, Mahesh. Again, a very energetic and thoughtful comment from you. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think social acceptance will always be a reward – extroverts who shine in public keep shining because they receive the reward. Have said this and as rightly noted by you, there’ll always be a void that extroverts would need to fill. And when their social acceptance begins to wane, god forbid, a life of solitude may be torturous. For the introverts, however, and this may compensate when they realize that self-acceptance is way purer than social: they don’t have to force themselves to “act naturally” – they just have to “be,” comfortable in their own skin.

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        • Another well-placed comment from you, Mahesh. Introverts just ‘be’. I like that a lot – being by ourselves and the only person to judge ourselves is us. Your comment makes me wonder what sort of voids introverts may encounter apart from being stuck in a crowd. If we are calm enough, we can use our imagination to tune out the world.

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  19. I won’t deny it, am a introvert, but I know there a little extrovert in me. Everyone from elementary to middle school and through high school said I was quiet. Even the summer school programs I went to people would say I was quiet and needed to talk more. I wouldn’t say I was quiet, just not interested in small talk. Awhile people chatted away I was just being an observer. Even in college people just thought of me a quiet, maybe because I didn’t act at their level. Bar hoping, drinking beer, getting drunk and all that crazy stuff. Now that I speak my mind of what going on in the world they are shock.

    The way you describe yourself in your in this post I am not much different. You say your writing come best at 1am where for me I do a lot of my stuff from blogging, to drawing at night when everyone a sleep. You find your solace in attending concerts, going to the movies alone and eating alone. I find my solace in my walks, social dancing when I can, every now and then going to the movies and I don’t mind eating alone.

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    • Nothing wrong with being quiet and I hope no one teased you for it, apart from telling you to talk more (which as a fellow introvert, feel that that is so hard to do when you are already trying to keep calm in the present situation). I am sure your thoughts on the world are valid and you have every right to have an opinion. Maybe your opinion might shock, but it is probably what others are not used to hearing.

      It does sound like we are similar in some ways, Michael. Nothing like being alone and being able to do what we want to do to our heart’s content, and no one distracting us from it. Thank you for stopping by again 🙂

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  20. I’m introverted, and I spend significant amounts of time alone, which is fine with me, especially when all people want is political arguments. I enjoy your articles immensely. I think your long, thoughtful sentiments are well worth the wait as you re-cooperate in your alone time. 🙂

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  21. I did that test and it says I am a naturally social introvert! Haha. I spend a lot of time alone because of life circumstances but I like being with people. I don’t like being the center of attention though. I used to be shy when I was a child but growing up (and speaking other languages) ended with most of my shyness…

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    • Being with people vs being the center of attention. Such a good distinction. Haha, speaking other languages can be a good way to put yourself out there and meet new people and so be more loud and outgoing 😀

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  22. Hi there Mabel! Just a bit confused – how do you know so much about me? Are you sure you arent in Delhi, lurking somewhere around office or home? 😉 Seriously! I am introvert and even the personality test says so 😀 I am an Asian too and obedience and hard work is our mantra. In fact it is so much in my blood that I didnt have to be forced either – I just did it on my own. Only recently have I started to dig my heels in and live a little 😉 But I still wouldnt do what you do – go to a concert alone 😀 My idea of a perfect day/weekend is all alone at home while the cats are away and I sit tapping away on your comment box 😀 Have a great weekend and thanks for decoding me to me 😀 Cheers

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  23. Loved your take on introversion, Mabel. It reminded me what I wrote on the same topic about a year ago.
    I don’t think introversion has anything to do with countries; it’s just a trait, a normal one, seen in some people. I’m a kinda introvert, you can say because I feel at my best when I’m alone. Being alone and being lonely are two different things altogether and introverts know this best.

    I loved the pictures in this post….these are one of your best sets!

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    • Agree that introversion is a personality trait, and for some of us we either have it or we don’t, not based on how we grew up but just a feeling.

      As a fellow introvert, totally agree with you that being alone and loneliness are different. You can be an introvert, love being alone but at times also feel lonely. Thank you so much, Mani. I loved working on these set of photos 🙂

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  24. You did an excellent job describing what an introvert was. I couldn’t figure out if I were an introvert or an extrovert since I seem to fluctuate between the two. Maybe I’m just shy, but I can get in front of a crowd and speak and actually enjoy it. Gosh, I have no idea now which I am. I liked how you added studies and information to your post, which by the way kudos for its thoroughness. I’m just curious how many hours it took to conceive, gather information, and write your thoughts down in such an orderly way? I’m Asian too by the way. 🙂

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    • Thank you, Gaston. Perhaps you are an ambivert, which is a person who exemplifies both qualities and are comfortable with both traits. That said, even introverts can be extroverted at times, which is mostly forced.

      Like many of my posts, this post started as an idea about couple of years ago. A couple of months ago I thought it was time to write it. Over the last month I started planning, reading around, editing and putting it together. This was one of the harder posts I’ve written, and so in short, weeks, days, hours 🙂

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  25. Absolutely beautifully written Mabel. And lovely photos too. Your points about introverts are spot on. As I grew up (in the USA) the ‘quiet ones’ were thought to be ….’slow.’
    I prefer the dark of pre dawn, in my own company, even now. quiet serenity is wonderful 🙂
    I liked the part about the ‘stalking’ bit, and your friend.

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    • Thanks so much, Debi. I had so much fun taking these photos and then playing around with them on the computer.

      Quiet ones, ‘slow’ 😦 But in a way it’s not hard to see how people see it that way. When you’re quiet and introverted, you might be seen as having no opinion, no idea.

      My friend certainly had good stalking intentions and I am so glad to have met her 🙂

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      • my pleasure! night photos, city shots aren’t easy – you just made them look that way Mabel 🙂
        They are, very very Good.
        It was a lovely thing to meet a like minded person and become friends.
        For introverts, that isn’t a regular, thing.
        I become more, reserved I guess, when others want to be ‘insta friends.’ Too much. too soon. It doesn’t seem real at all. These insta friends always, have a short shelf life, til their next insta friend. Not my thing at all. LOL

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        • Night photography certainly has its challenges. But like any art form, it gets better with practice. Thanks again 🙂

          ‘a lovely thing to meet a like minded person and become friends.’ You said it very well and I feel that way. Many across social media or people who just want a quick conversation in real life just because they want company might seem off putting to introverts. Not my thing either. I prefer giving my time and all to people who want to make a real connection and are honest upfront.

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  26. When I studied Chinese, I saw how much time and repetition it took to learn the language, and especially the writing. Learning to write the characters is definitely a solitary pursuit. (By the way, I didn’t study it long enough, so by now I’ve forgotten most of what I learned.)

    I think I’m an introvert. I need a good amount of alone time. I’m stimulated by ideas and reading and the world around me, including interesting people. I spend a lot of time at home writing, but I also like to go out and talk to people. Even introverts need a mixture of time alone and time with people. The percentages they like are different, though, from those preferred by extroverts.

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    • I also remember learning writing Chinese characters – and writing those characters until they were perfect, only you could do it. Marta in the comments earlier brought up that if you learn a language, you have to talk to others – and that can make you more extroverted (supposing you like language learning).

      Agree that introverts need both alone time and time with others. I don’t think one can truly experience solitude without others around. Many introverts like reflecting, and sometimes we need another person to share and bounce off out ideas with, just not in a big group.

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  28. Sorry for not stopping by earlier, Mabel. Life and academics have taken such a bearing on me that I’ve pushed blogging and visiting to the back-burner. I’m not shy to admit that I’m an introvert, but that doesn’t mean I am quiet either. It just depends on the context and circumstances.

    With that being said, I pick and choose the events that I attend. I don’t mind watching movies alone too. I also don’t mind shopping alone. I don’t mind being on my own in between classes as long as I’ve music to accompany me. Heck, even eating alone doesn’t bother me as much as it used to. I also find it easier to socialize with friends or acquaintances in a smaller group (of say, maybe two or three people at one go). Any larger and I want out. Spending time with a large group of people drains my energy to the point where I just want to head home and sleep the exhaustion off.

    ‘For instance, writing inspiration usually hits me at 1am when I’m alone at home, never in a bustling café at midday.’ – the same is occurring to me too. It’s always when the world around me has gone to sleep that I have the inspiration to write stories or to complete my assignments. To be honest, I have wondered once or twice whether there’s something wrong with me.

    I could go on and on about this, lol.

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    • No worries, Ciana. I read your blog post earlier and it does sound like the academic life is challenging for you at the moment. I hope all will be well for you. Also, I rescued your comment from my Trash folder 🙂

      Your sound a lot like me, not minding doing things alone and hanging out in small groups. Like yo, two to three people is what I’m comfortable with. Anymore than five or six and I start getting nervy, especially if I don’t know all of them well or if everyone doesn’t know each other. Spending time with others I also prefer to do it away from crowds except concerts – window shopping would be okay for me if the shops aren’t too packed.

      Maybe these days because academic life puts you in contact with others, that in your down time you prefer it much quieter or to be alone. Haha, you are not alone in wondering if there’s something wrong with you by sleeping odd hours. I do that too all the time, but have come to accept that I am nocturnal by nature. I too could go on about this 😀

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      • It is definitely challenging, but I’m learning to go with the flow. I used to force myself to start on my assignments earlier than everyone else and slowly work my way through it. It’s much better to go with the flow… makes life a little better. I think Google Chrome has an issue with WordPress – cause it’s alright whenever I comment with Firefox/Explorer. =/

        I think it’s more like I’m tired of the continuous contact with my peers that’s making me desire solitude in my down time.

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  29. (I tried commenting earlier, but I don’t think the comment went through =/ )

    I’m not shy to admit that I’m a fellow introvert. I don’t like spending time with a large group of people because it bleeds my energy. Eating alone doesn’t bother me as much as it used to.

    “For instance, writing inspiration usually hits me at 1am when I’m alone at home, never in a bustling café at midday. At work, I feel most productive on the days where half the office decides not to turn up.” – I agree with this statement because I’m like that. 🙂 It’s always when the world around me has gone to sleep that I’m able to focus in the peace and serenity of the night. I’m able to think and finish up the work that I have to do.

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    • Yeah, your earlier comment ended up in the Trash. Back there now.

      ‘it bleeds my energy’. Spot on. I love how you describe energy and introverts. No need to be shy to admit you’re a fellow introvert. Introverts are awesome and thoughtful, powerful in many ways 🙂

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      • I’ve had occasions where people thought I was aloof and egoistic (when I was being an introvert), which is why I won’t admit that I’m an introvert unless I’ve met someone similar. I do love being an introvert, though – we have the power of noting and observing everything without the extroverts knowing. 😀

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        • ‘we have the power of noting and observing everything without the extroverts knowing.’ Yes, Yes and YES! Sometimes I also feel I observe introverts pretty well too…but I also feel it hard to talk with them unless they open up to me first, lol. It’s just me and my weird ways like you 😀

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  30. My stepdaughter [Asian and German] is an introvert but has her moments when she acts more like an extrovert. I chalk it up to the difference in her parents and how those difference have meshed in her. Clearly, my husband, her father, is more of an extrovert, wanting the TV or music on all the time and seems to crave friends and family around. I do not know her mother that well but when I have been around her, her voice is quiet and she only speaks when what she says seems to be of great importance to her.

    Probably the reason my stepdaughter and I get along is because of the introverted tendencies in both of us.

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    • Interesting to hear that you and your stepdaughter get along as two introverts. Perhaps some introverts get along when they have things in common, or when they are aware that their introverted tendencies – which sounds like it is the case for the two of you.

      At the same time, it is interesting to hear you also get along with your extroverted husband. I’ve read that extroverts and introverts can make very good partners for each other.

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  31. Another very thoughtful post, Mabel. I would say I’m in the middle. I enjoy my time alone, don’t get anxious in crowds (although I’m not a big fan of crowded events). It’s interesting dichotomy being a writer who blogs. Typically writers are more introverted and in the past, they wrote and published their books. They were not required to interact with readers constantly. Except of course, if they were attending a live book signing or reading but that wasn’t a constant, ongoing process, like answering comments on blogs. My point is, as a writer today, we really are forced to interact ALOT more with our readers. I’m not surprised you get overwhelmed with that here. You have a large fan base and for good reason. You’re an amazing writer.
    p.s. I don’t know anyone who enjoyed their piano lessons as a child. 😉 My kids used to complain to me constantly for the four years they took lessons. Today, they’re grateful they’ve learned it. Although they don’t play it often, it has helped them in the playing of guitar and drums.

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    • It sounds like you are an ambivert, someone who likes their alone time and also genuinely likes being around others – living the best of both worlds so to speak 🙂

      Glad you kids are greatful they took piano lessons. Hope they really enjoy guitars and drums now and they are not too loud 😀

      I think you are spot on with writers today. These days you almost certainly need an online presence and a community to put your work out there and get it noticed even a tiny bit. Though I get overwhelmed, I really am very greatful for everyone who has come on here, including you. I try my best to keep up. Thank you so much 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  32. It’s great to see you breaking the stereotype that all Asians are introverts. It’s not fair to label everyone of a race this way or any single way! I’m both an introvert and extrovert, to be honest. In some situations I’m an extrovert, such as when I’m with friends, and my laugh gets so big I’ve been told it is audible across the room. Other times I’m introverted. And honestly I am quiet sometimes not because I’m shy but because I’m thinking or being careful before I speak. Your posts are so rich with detail and I thank you for them 🙂

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    • True that not all Asians are introverts. Sometimes I like to think that by writing quietly, I am exemplifying extroverted traits 🙂

      I can totally see you as an introvert and extrovert, an ambivert living the best of both worlds. Sometimes those around us can bring out that louder side of us – we’re comfortable around them and more ready to let loose. And perhaps once we’ve done so, like you, we’re ready to have a bit of quiet time. Thank you so much for stopping by Christy. Hugs to you ❤

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  33. This is an illuminating post, Mabel, in part because it does explain how culturally we can be perceived as one way or another. Where in Asia, being more respectful and conservative towards elders such as in the Confucian philosophy which many people were brought up in versus a more free-spirited environment that many Americans (my friends and I) were brought up in can set an initial bias one way or another. For me, I like to delve into issues a bit, which makes me more of an introvert – but there is a competitive nature to me as well which brings out the opposite 🙂

    I think you say it best when you mention how you pass through phases of different levels of introversion or extroversion. There are some people who may strictly be at one extreme (and I know a few), but others like myself can be comfortable bouncing in between the two…although I do think the older we get the more introverted we become. Wishing you a great ending to the weekend.

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    • I’ve always pegged you to be the quieter type, Randy. Delve into issues you do with your writing and photography – which I would love to have a deep discussion with you one on one some day. Competitive – from your love of outdoors and what you do, I think so and am inclined to think you don’t stop until you get what you want 🙂

      I do think quite often I can be a bit extreme; I really do like my quiet. That said, with the right person or people I don’t mind sharing my space with them if they’re willing to share theirs with me 🙂

      Midnight’s coming around, and here’s a new week. Wishing you well this coming week and take care, be good, stay safe.

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      • I definitely do weigh in more on the introvert side, which as you describe fits me perfectly. 🙂 I love my own time, quiet time. I have a twin sister who is the extrovert, and people always noticed that between us. Given the definition of the word, I would have to say when it comes to social situations, and I am definitely an introvert ~ but with family and friends I’m the opposite 🙂 I think many of “us” are similar in this way.

        Like you, I do like my quiet, and will go out of my way to find it 🙂 I think that is the key, finding people who understand the introverted mind…and while we can play on both side, nothing quite like our own space. Hope to be able to have some nice discussions with you at some point, to see what make the introverted Mabel tick 🙂 Wish you a great week ahead! Take care.

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        • Introvert fits you perfectly then. Nothing to be shy about it too and I like that about you. You know, I will also go out of my way to find quiet, if I need it. There are times when I do want a fellow introvert to bounce ideas off with in a quiet, calm way. Finding people who understand the introverted mind can be challenging. As mentioned in my post, where do you meet introverts and chances are introverts won’t go out of their way to meet you 😀 What makes the introverted Mabel tick? I think that is only discovered when people converse or try to converse with me one on one in person 🙂 You take care too, Randy. So glad we connected on here.

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  34. Being comfortable in your own skin and knowing what works for you is the important bit, Mabel. I imagine having heaps of online friends is a great option for an introvert because you can retain control of your visits and conversations (time permitting, of course! 🙂 ) Wishing you a great and not too stressful week ahead.

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    • You are spot on, Jo. I do feel like I have a lot of friends online and you and everyone here is amazing. The introvert in me just loves interacting by written word. All of you have touched my life in some way, a good way so thank you for that. You have a good day, Jo 🙂

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      • It’s a funny thing, Mabel. Not many people would describe me as introverted but I do love the safety of being behind the written word. You can reveal as much or as little as you want, and dish out hugs willy nilly 🙂 🙂 But I do admit to being a hugging person. Sending one now, all the way to Oz!

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  35. What a lovely honest post, Mabel, that definitely resonates with me too. I consider myself an introvert and love my own time. I do enjoy socialising with people I know well and like, where we can have those quiet moments too. I find meeting new people and making small talk exhausting. I am hopeless at small talk. I need to get into the deep and meaningful straight away. I love my role as teacher though, but it’s a performance, and talking with children is quite different from talking with adults. I love the online conversation on blogs and find them easier to maintain. I can do a lot of listening, which I am better at.
    I love the photos in this post. Well done. Thank you for sharing.

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    • ‘I need to get into the deep and meaningful straight away’ This is me too a lot of the time. I’d rather spend time with someone if I feel we can be friends. Then again, I also don’t like to judge and would try to make small talk no matter how uncomfortable it makes me feel.

      Very nice to hear you like your role as a teacher to children. Children have the wildest ideas and imagination. One thing I like about blogs and chatting online is that I can think about what I want before I say or write it out – it gives me a sense of control, and hope someone finds meaning in my words.

      Thank you so much for stopping by, Norah. Very kind of you.

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  36. Lovely post Mabel!!!

    The labels we have attached while judging people and the lens we wear when we interact with others have shaped the way we tend to communicate with people outside our circle and it captures the way we project our personality. Yes, introvert as per the general connotation is more a trait, behavior and less a quality or a habit. It is definitely to do the way we grow up and the way our surrounding behave with us and treat us and how we are able to handle those situations and how long we are in such conflict of thoughts with ourselves and how much the impact of the external influence, and the role of parents and friends are vital to the way those human traits gets the predominance or with engagement remains hibernated.

    The source of energy I agree introvert get the stimulus from the silence and solitude and extrovert get the stimulus from the loud and sound…the party matters to them where as for the introvert it is the parting from the party that makes them happy. There are types of works that gets best suited to either extrovert or introvert as the nature of the work demands…writer or designer spends most time in solitude and the outcomes when they are in that state of isolation and silence, sales or marketing guy has to be extrovert as he has meet people and engage and there has to constant contest of propositions.

    I agree Asian parents have grown in a certain ways and that’s what is bearing on their offspring and one can see the glaring difference of the children who have moved there to the west and children born in western world, many of my friends who have moved to US one can see the disconnect in where to draw the line for their children as they themselves are in dilemma and they are attempting to cross the barriers and many times the question they keep asking should they be doing…

    Mabel, the topic has kept in a good spin and will come back with more thoughts as we go ahead in our deliberations, and as always this post is so well researched and more importantly the critical analysis are beautifully presented.
    😀

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    • Being an introvert does depend on a lot of factors. I like how you mentioned whether we’re more quiet or loud can also depend on our surrounding situations and how we handle these situations. If we’re put into a situation with many people for an extended period of time, maybe as an introvert we can learn how to adapt and be more extroverted. Think back to the time when we were teenagers – some of us that were bullied or feel that we do no fit in with our peers might become more withdrawn and introverted. I guess when we find our tribe, that is find a group we share common interests in, that’s when we start opening up more.

      ‘the stimulus from the silence and solitude and extrovert get the stimulus from the loud and sound’ and all that party you mentioned. You are briliantly poetic with your words, your words give rhyme and very much reason 😀 True that certain professions are more suited to introverts and extroverts. With writing, like you I agree it’s more suited to someone who is quieter and likes quiet time. It’s an art, like many forms of art, that needs to be done alone, reflecting as we go along.

      Crossing barriers as an introvert as they put themselves out there is a daunting thing. Sometimes it’s hard to go against parents’ word because, well, there is much sense to that. In Asian cultures, there are lessons behind the typical cultural traits that can be important…like how keeping quiet and working will get you somewhere. Thank you so much for your kind words, Nihar. This was a very hard post to write on so many levels, and I think I should be happy with it. Take care 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes Mabel, our childhood and the way we have been treated by our friends and acquaintances makes such a huge difference the way we form our views and the way we react to certain situations contrary to other’s general expectation.

        Absolutely there is nothing wrong in being an introvert, it is human trait and we all have our own set of traits each has to its advantages and disadvantages, and depends on the circumstances and situations we are and how we deploy those traits.

        Writing as we do makes us focus much on ourselves and we talk more to ourselves than to the outside person around us, there many writers who are vocal and love to speak out aloud what they write and they literally enjoy the company of people.

        It is an art to balance between being an introvert and being an extrovert, though predominately we may be prone towards one trait but we can change our presentation our personality with training and with practice we can master what best suited to us.

        I agree Mabel this is not an easy topic to dwell and so much finer aspects that get dissected while dealing in such topic, and here you have done a brilliant job of balancing the debate and not getting biased on the topic and allowing the reader to make their inferred judgment.

        Thank so much Mabel for such intrigued views and have a lovely week ahead.
        😀

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        • What a perfect summation of an introvert – ‘Writing as we do makes us focus much on ourselves and we talk more to ourselves than to the outside person around us’ Again you got the words. Sometimes I find it comforting to talk to myself alone at home when I am writing, speaking out not just the words on my screen but also the thoughts running through my head. Do I enjoy the company of people? It depends on how I am feeling and even if I am up for interacting face-to-face, I’d much rather it be a quiet affair where I don’t have to keep talking non-stop or shout to be heard.

          Also agree that we can switch up our personality if we try and practice hard enough, adapting to making ourselves presentable in different situations. In a way, it is fake it until you make it for some of us introverts who are keen on letting themselves be heard – and it’s not always easy if we want to be genuinely honest.

          Thank you for your kind words, Nihar. It really, really makes me so happy to hear you think this piece isn’t judgemental. After all, I am speaking from personal experience for most part of the post 😀

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes Mabel, being in a group and managing the group dynamics is not easy and especially when we don’t like the loud discussion and large arguments which are many times driven by the dominant personalities…introvert don’t like to push things and fight as against the extrovert they just try to bulldoze things and wants their dominance to be felt.
            Changing the personality is also not easy and many times we have falter while doing it as one of the personality is not what we are and pretending is an act which tend to go wrong at the right place…an irony.

            Thanks Mabel for this piece of lovely thought to dwell on.
            Have a nice day ahead.
            😀

            Like

  37. Is it possible to be both?. I am the first to introduce myself to strangers in a large group and have no trouble ‘working a room’ but I prefer 1-1 over group socializing, relish my alone time and need to withdraw to reenergize.

    I also wonder whether you’ve become less of an introvert over time?

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  38. An enthralling post to read Mabel and it was nice to find out more about you and your thoughts on being an introvert. I’m also an introvert and I do enjoy my own company and being out in nature although I have to admit I also love going out so I’m not entirely uncomfortable in large crowds. Still, I’ll always prefer a night in, a good book and pizza to a night on the town, any day. Great post .?💕

    Like

  39. “Standing in the middle of a busy shopping centre gets overwhelming for me: my eyes often latch on to every movement flickering across my eyes; my mind runs a million miles an hour and friends right next to me seem so far away. Out of place, out of mind.”

    This is me too.

    Mabel, thank you so very much for being yourself. For being different from others, and not being afraid to day so out loud. Although I’m a loner, you give me strength be being a proud you.

    Like

    • For us introverts, I think we open up when we are comfortable with what we’re doing. For me, it’s writing. For you, Allan, it seems to be photography. From your posts on how you work as a wedding photographer, I see nothing but confidence in you and a keen desire to speak up and work with your clients.

      I am very much a loner outside of work. It isn’t easy, because sometimes even the quietest ones just one to connect. But I’d rather be myself than be someone than I am not. Thank you, Allan, for supporting.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Innate. Excellent word. I guess sometimes how we react to a situation depends on how we feel…and we just can’t explain it. It’s like I can’t explain why I feel overwhelmed in a shopping centre (as a kid I didn’t experience this). Sounds like you have the best of introverted and extroverted personalities. Thanks for stopping by, Kathrin (lovely name!)

      Liked by 1 person

  40. First of all “Whoa, so many comments!”
    I am myself an introvert. I had many difficulties growing up being an introvert as I was often just too scared to even ask for simple things such as the teacher to repeat something, asking help from the staff in stores etc.
    However this all got a bit better when I had my exchange year in Finland when I was 16. As I was forced out of my usual “habitat” I had to talk with new people in order to basicaly survive somehow in the new environment. After that one year I had less problems dealing with normal everyday situations but still I am an introvert. To this day I do not like to call companies when some delivery is overdue, I prefer sending them emails. Somehow I really try to avoid confrontions with people as much as possible, even if there is nothing bad going on by just asking some simple question.
    I believe being an introvert got me also into reading tons of books, trying myself as an author, getting heavily involved with computer games and last but not least creating my blog to have an outlet for all the stuck feelings from my everyday life.

    Like

    • Now, never too many comments for me to handle… 😉 😀

      ‘too scared to even ask for simple things’ It sounds very scary to be that way. I was, and am still like this sometimes. But it gets better if you put yourself out there bit by bit.

      Maybe when you correspond with someone by email like you do with the deliveries, you feel more in control. That is how I feel. Like, by writing you won’t unexpectedly face someone who is in a bad mood (which you don’t know about) so to speak.

      So glad you started your blog, Timo. I still have faith you will write that book of yours 😛

      Liked by 1 person

      • Somehow I do not believe at all in ever finishing that book. Perhaps another project at some point but right now there is not even enough time for half the things I try to accomplish.
        I really do prefer email/ mail contact, as you said that it is the problem for to face someone.

        Like

        • Well my book is going slower than a snail’s pace, so we will see who finishes their book first 😀

          I do think it’s hard to find people who prefer writing communication over face-to-face these days. People are just too lazy to write and reflect. Then again writing is not for everyone.

          Liked by 1 person

  41. I would put myself in the social and thinking quadrants as an introvert, at this stage in my life. Hopefully the older introverts become, the less anxious/restrained for those who are true introverts.

    I like socializing in small groups or one to one with another person. No, I’m not the life of a party and prefer not to be. I don’t even hang out with a bunch of women and haven’t for years for a ‘girls’ or chick night. My friends are scattered across Canada and have come from different walks of life.

    It doesn’t bother me. I believe my level of independence and comfort level ..is because I was raised in a big family of siblings. When you have multiple siblings, you know there’s a bunch of people already somewhere in this world that understands and knows you quite well even if they live far away. It gives a level of socialability for an introvert to like social groups, yet also doesn’t mind striking out /exploring on their own for a while.

    I like being a social introvert because it gives me opportunities to bounce off ideas, share opinions and also for me to learn informally from others. 🙂 Then I choose what suits me.

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  42. I also believe my introversion is tied to my birth order: I’m the oldest among 5 other siblings. I have noticed first born kids tend to go off on their own to play by themselves, yet they can be socialable if they want to be. They don’t crave attention/being with others all the time.

    My partner for instance is also a first born…I see the same tendencies of introversion in him also. Same with a first born niece..

    Like

  43. “It’s one thing to be introverted, and another thing to be shy, and another to be antisocial.” Thank you, Mabel! I read this a while back somewhere – the distinction between introversion and shyness – and it is immensely helpful. My son is very very introverted and recently I’ve been considering whether it’s okay that he does almost everything on his own, except for the time with family. He is also shy, but he does have the ability to talk with other people, like our neighbors, whom he knows casually.

    We always had the value in our family when the kids were growing up, that you should find an activity to interest yourself, that is, “entertain yourself,” rather than relying on other people or outside stimuli for entertainment. My daughter would color and draw for hours while listening to books on tape (later, CD), and my son would do some building with Legos, and of course, video gaming. Later I wondered if this value – each of us in our home working on our own projects, “parallel play,” so to speak – was a good idea, but we fell into it naturally, and it does support the introversion personalities that we tend to have.

    We love hanging around the house, and it takes some momentum to get us going to something outside the home (movies, plays, musical events, etc.). None of us likes to shop – we’re with you on that! Susan Cain’s book, “Quiet,” is a good one for understanding the value of character and of the qualities an introvert brings to their work, over our culture’s worship of personality and the ability to “shout another person down” in a conference room. (High tech business culture has a lot of the latter.).

    Thank you for another thoughtful, far-reaching, essay! :). (I feel a little guilty posting a comment knowing you hesitate when confronted with having to respond to comments! but because you have been so gracious visiting my blog and sharing your thoughts, I’m going to let go of the guilt and be happy to know we’ve connected.) 🙂

    Like

    • It does sound like your son is both introverted and social. Perhaps it has to do within certain memories or experiences, runs in the family or perhaps he is just wired just like that naturally. Like many Asian cultures, it’s a great thing to encourage yourself to entertain yourself – and that ultimately encourages you to do what truly makes you happy. I can just imagine your kids having a good time building Lego and playing video games. If it’s not forced and you naturally pick it up, these activities would most probably be for you.

      These days shopping is much better for me and I can window shop – but can’t do it for long. Usually after an hour I get tired and feel the need to retreat. Even then going home or finding a quiet place feels like the hardest thing in the world.

      ‘“shout another person down” in a conference room.’ Love the way you put it, and I think that is how a lot of those in the Western world see themselves: speak their ideas as loud as possible and try their very best to be heard. There is a time and place to speak up and be loud, and also take into account what others are saying.

      No need to apologise, Theresa. I do value each comment and although I get overwhelmed by the comments, they also make me feel excited too. In a way they put me out of my comfort zone and encourage me to open up to others. Thank you so much 🙂

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      • Thank you for the encouraging response to my son’s introvert nature. Reading your article has reassured me that he is not “abnormal” in his seclusion.

        A funny/wry story about shouting and conference rooms comes to mind from my time working at Microsoft in the ’90s…I had a marketing boss who was super-smart, and also very respectful and easy-going, who, one day, went into a meeting with Steve Balmer to discuss a marketing strategy. When he came out of the meeting, we were having a meeting (he and I) and he seemed really shaken up about his plan, kept going over his notes and muttering about how Steve had said this and Steve had said that, and I remember thinking how sad it was that someone so capable (he had been a financier on Wall St. before coming to Microsoft) and also so smart could be rattled by a bunch of shouting and yelling, as Steve was known to do. There wasn’t anything wrong with the plan, Steve was just being the disrupter that he often was. (Not unlike the now-leader of the US…)

        Oh! about shopping, shopping for clothes is the worst. Such a chore, getting dressed/undressed/dressed/undressed, looking for the right size, etc. Aurgh. These days I use a buy-at-home service (Stitch Fix). It has transformed my life! 🙂

        Have a great day! thanks again, Mabel! I’m so fortunate our connections brought me to your blog. 🙂

        Like

        • I think sometimes it’s hard to relate to others because we are simply our own different people. There as a moment I thought I was more than an oddball because no one around me seemed to like quiet. Then I started meeting a few introverts and then realised the way we are is the way we are.

          It sounded like your boss has a hard time with the way Steve presented himself at the meeting. He doesn’t sound like the kind to be riled by shouting and perhaps an energetic, boisterous debate. Sometimes all it takes is one thing to make us feel uncomfortable and out of our element to rattle our nerves. Maybe that is just the way Steve works, and I think sometimes extroverts are not afraid of showing what they want, which can be intimidating.

          One of the worst parts of shopping for me is someone asking me in the change rooms if I need anything else. I do understand they have the best intentions but sometimes I just want to be alone with clothes 😀

          Liked by 1 person

          • This was many years back (in the 1990s), and Steve Ballmer was clearly a disruptor; he would ask questions just to see if you stuck to your guns, or just to check you’d done your homework, or just to be Steve. My thoughts were, there is a price to pay when you do that to people. I don’t think it’s a great strategy myself, and when I have managed groups, I used the approach of helping them become empowered to find solutions. But, I’m sure Steve would say his way is the best. !

            Yes, there are so many things about the shopping experience to irritate us! Hah!

            Have a great day! Thanks for responding to my comments! 🙂

            Like

  44. Great post as always, Mabel! I am introverted as well, and I think it can be a good quality. I love what you write: “it’s something special when you actually connect with each other, especially over silence”. That was really beautiful written!

    Like

    • Thanks, Hanne. I love silence, and I don’t think many appreciate silence for what it is. It’s something special, powerful, magical when you can just be with someone without words to connect you.

      Like

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