Life lessons from the Pensive Introvert

Post three of the life lessons from my 2016 acquaintances, the Pensive Introvert. This one, I almost chose not to write about. It’s a difficult decision to choose to write about someone you once knew. I bet Gotye felt the same. Yet, I learnt so much from this one. It was the moment I began to properly acknowledge the introverted part of me.

Sure, I’d read Susan Cain’s Quiet, and I love how it helped me understand others. But I had never applied to myself, when I should have.

But lets start with a pensive definition. To define pensive at its simplest, it is being engaged in or involving deep thought. Something introverts are often naturally astute.

Introvert, extrovert, does it matter?

I have this innate ability to recall songs whenever someone says something vaguely like the lyrics of a song. I often hear the ‘does it matter?’ when talking about introversion and extroversion, and I recall this from X Factor five or so years ago. It shouldn’t matter, right? But as we’ve seen, these tendencies have a profound impact on how we behave.Albert Einstein Genius

Introverts become worried that their difference in charisma will have devastating effects on their career. But Einstein says it so well. We have to play to our strengths. Build on our strengths, and capitalise. This is something I took away from this brief encounter. Strengths are far more valuable than weaknesses, but never forget either.

It’s also not definitive. We aren’t a full introvert or full extrovert. We are a healthy mix of the two, typically with a dominant side.

“There is no such thing as a pure introvert or extrovert. Such a person would be in the lunatic asylum.” ― C.G. Jung.

Staying grounded, like the Pensive Introvert.

A challenge, I found, with the Pensive Introvert was their ability to drift off into another world. Their imagination, reflective nature, and curiousity consuming air time. In many settings, this would be fine. The shower is often where I design my blogs, my day, and plan. Whilst in conversation with someone else, it takes effort to remain engaged.

An introvert issue is often staying in the present, and learning how to express the four thousand thoughts going through our minds. Introverts are chronic over-thinkers, and this means effort is remain in the present.

“There’s a difference between preferring books to parties and preferring sixteen cats to seeing the light of day.” ― Lauren Morrill, Meant to Be

It’s fine to need that space away from others. Those moments of clarity alone, to ground yourself. But, it’s important to remain grounded. There is an amazing world out there, and one which is available to all. An extrovert may be able to walk through the doors with ease. An introvert may require a little more effort. Both are equally important. And equally necessary.

“Don’t let your dreams be dreams. You know this living’s not so hard as it seems.”
Jack Johnson, On and On

We have to find ways to live in the present. Live in the moment. Because dreams and thoughts are just that, dreams and thoughts.

Take initiative. Be engaging.

This person, I often found quiet, and sometimes hard to engage with. The conversation required my energy to keep it alive. As a kind of extroverted introvert, or ambivert, this was exceptionally draining for me. I spent exorbitant effort maintaining, which meant we never progressed.

One way discussions are something that extroverts with introvert friends may be aware of. Yet, this isn’t true for all introverts. Many, myself included, find ways to engage with those around us. I meet introverts all the time, and they are great conversationalists (if you can get them started).

When I first walk into a networking event, I look for an overly energetic extrovert. Their energy is contagious and ignites a flame inside me, ready for the new faces to come. A lot of networkers will have options when choosing who to approach. On a Friday afternoon, most will dive in for the conversationalist. Of which, we assume extroverts are better at. They aren’t.

Introverts can be equally as engaging as extroverts. It just requires a little more energy from the introvert. We have to step outside our comfort zone here, and maintain pace with others. I’m sure if that were the case with my Pensive Introvert, our discussions would have been more long-lasting.

The takeaway

Understanding how we all operate isn’t easy, but the introvert/extrovert divide is a good place to start. We generate meaning differently if we are one or the other. We have different flaws, and different strengths. Introverts can learn from the Pensive Introvert, by ignoring the idea that one personality type is better than the other. Or even that you are definitively one or the other.

Introverts often think lots, and drift off. So we have to intentionally work to be grounded. And in the same stream, we have to let that conversationalist of ours out.

It can be tough, but if your goal is to be successful, a small piece of what you do will have to be the less pleasant. Just do it, and do it the best you can, knowing your comfort will eventually come.

“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?” ― Vincent Van Gogh.