She was alternately hiding behind her big sister’s legs and peeking out to grin at me in hopes that I would notice her. I walked over and said hello, her face opening up into a huge grin before disappearing again. I said my goodbye and continued to walk down the aisle and before turning into the next aisle, peeked behind me. She was still standing there grinning back at me as though the best thing in the whole world was to be remembered and noticed by her friend’s Mama. It lit up my heart.
I felt a deep kinship with this young girl, unsure whether to hide or be seen. As an introvert, much of my life has been focused on the act of invisibility so that I could shrink carefully back into the comfortable confines of my mind. However, there have been many times that the same coveted, comfortable invisibility has become a clawing, gnawing ache in my belly as I drifted into deep loneliness. There were many years of finding my way, vacillating between periods of deep quiet, interrupted by staccato bursts of being desperate to be heard at any cost.
I am now at a place where I can weather social situations and need much less time to recover in the cocoon of my home after. Yet, much of my life was exactly like the picture of the little girl in the grocery store- utterly conflicted between hiding and being seen.
This is the crux of introversion- a desperate need for invisibility, which conflicts with the very human need to be heard and understood.
I would like to hope that with the recent influx of publications and research on introversion, that young people will find a comfortable ground with their introversion at a younger age than I did.
May we each find peace with exposing ourselves from underneath our precious cloaks of invisibility and find a group of people that will respect our need for privacy, but ease the ache of loneliness that seems pervasive among us.