You knew people like me in high school. We sat at the sides of the classroom, snug against the wall, rarely daring to be heard. Our marks were above-average, our fashion sense decidedly dated or dictated by what we received as birthday presents. We tended to be poor as jocks, soft of voice, timid in manners. We liked showing up on the last day before Christmas or Easter vacation, because we got to chat one-on-one with the teacher and other folks like us (of course, if you weren’t like us, you probably didn’t know this, but pipped off and headed to the mall or went driving around town). We saw all our crushes fall for the popular kids, and we cursed our looks and inability to fit in, and then we felt sorry for ourselves. And strangely enough, for all our supposed brains, we trembled, sweated and stuttered as we were forced to read speeches in front of the class. We were the watchers of the world, ill-fitting and uninvolved.
A recent post by Henry Sharam over at DIYPlanner concerning introversion and extroversion has me thinking about how things might have been.
If you’re an introvert with a bit of life experience under your belt, you know that thought that hits you when you drive pass a high school: “If I could deal with people then like I deal with people now, how much better could it have it been?” You’d be able to deal with the loud people. You wouldn’t be afraid to share your mind. You wouldn’t have frozen in your tracks when face-to-face with the secret object of your affections. You would have seized the brass rings.
That life experience generally comes bundled with confidence as you grow older, as you achieve a string of successes that reinforce your identity, self-discipline, and knowledge that you have something important to say. Yes, that’s all very nice, but still you wonder, what if you could have escaped the little mental and social traps of being one of the quiet ones — when you were young enough to really enjoy it?