Search This Blog

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Introverts

I mean to write more about shyness or introversion, including drawing on my own experience and perspective, but for now I wish to draw Gentle Reader's attention to this article by John Rosemond: 'Fixing' Son's Shyness. I used to read Mr Rosemond's articles religiously when the local paper carried them (and I still bothered with the local paper); I'm delighted to have noticed recently that Jewish World Review has added him to their roster.

I want to strongly endorse Mr Rosemond's point: if your child is 'shy' or 'introverted' (or as I prefer to call it, 'reserved'), don't work yourself into a tizzy over it. If that is all that is "wrong" with him, then he'll be fine -- and, in fact, your attempts to "cure" him are more likely to turn it into a real problem than to ever "cure" it. In this regard, it's similar to stuttering: most stuttering is caused by self-conscious awareness of the fact that one *did* stutter. Well-meaning drawing of attention to the child's stuttering by his adults -- and that's exactly what "working with him" to "cure" the stuttering does -- serves only to make him even more self-conscious of his stuttering.

The proper response to these "problems" is almost always: "let it be, don't draw attention to it, it will cure itself."

When I was a kid, starting at perhaps ten, my father was convinced that he needed to help (make!) me get over my "shyness." One of his methods was to take me with him when he went downtown to pay the bills -- when we'd get to the places we were going, he'd give me the billing statement and the money and make me go in alone to do the transaction.

I gotta tell ya', this was most annoying!

Sure, having some one-on-one time with Dad (without "the kids" to hog him) is cool, but being made to do some silly task to "cure" you of something you know isn't a problem ("Da-ad! When I grow up and wanna pay bills, I'll pay bills!") is just annoying.

My "shyness" is/was made of multiple factors, including:
1) my basic personality;
2) I enjoyed the company of adults;
3) I enjoy the company of those I already know (why add more people to the mix when there is still so much more to be discovered about these?);
4) learned response; with a major lesson delivered when I "discovered" death (a story for another time).

In all those "personality profile tests" that educationists and some employers have required me to take over the years, I always "test out" as 'introverted.' I could have told them that the very first time had 'introverted' and 'extroverted' been explained to me.

As I mentioned above, I prefer the term 'reserved' to either 'shy' or 'introverted' (while 'introverted' is a technical and non-judgmental term, most people misunderstand the term as indicating "socially flawed"). Part of the reason I prefer 'reserved' is that I am reserving judgment as to how far to extend myself in this social setting until I studied it more, and understand it.

Tangentially, the educationist 'gospel' that children need to be imprisoned in public indoctrination centers, lest they miss out on "socialization," is such an utterly false (yet, oddly, self-serving) concept; this "socialization," as it is practiced today, actively harms your child. But, even if it were neutral, the concept is utterly flawed. FOR, children are truly socialized only in relation to adults -- and, after all, the goal of childhood is adulthood -- not in relation to other children. Everyone spends the majority of his life as a chronological adult; he needs, as a child, to learn adulthood, not childhood. He's already a child, and he has childhood down pat; he's a natural at it.

An interesting observation I have long noted is that in many social situations, it is actually we 'introverts' (who are in the minority) who "carry the ball" and keep the thing working. For instance, I can't tell you how many times in class-room or seminar situations, I -- the "introvert" -- have asked the question that helped make clear the point the instructor wished to make, or induced the instructor to better (or correctly!) explain a point, or got the instructor to slow down on some complicated or difficult matter, and so on.