Because you understand.

Posted on: Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Dear Mallory,

As you know, I think about this subject a lot. For a long time, I was made to think there was something wrong with me. My mom was an extreme extrovert while I was growing up. Like you, she has now become a more balanced introvert/extrovert personality, but this was not the case as I was growing up. On the flip side, my dad is an extreme introvert. Unlike my mom, though, he will never admit that he is an introvert [he won't admit much about himself]. He grew up in a generation where introverts were serial killers and weirdos and freaks, and he seems unable to change that mentality. [Who can blame him with that sort of prejudice?] So. Growing up, with a mom who was very comfortable with herself and a father who was very uncomfortable with himself, I felt like something was wrong with me. I was angry a lot. I was exhausted most of the time. I liked playing by myself in my room. I liked sitting on the front porch while reading. I liked creating elaborate collages in the basement while watching MTV TGIFriday [wink, wink]. I was lucky enough to grow up with a huge in-ground pool in my backyard, which meant people were always over in the Summer. It was great! As long as I was able to sit in a lounge chair, reading to my heart's content. The few times I snuck inside to play Solitaire on the computer I was scolded and told I was being rude. At the time, I couldn't understand how I was being rude. I hadn't said anything mean, even though I wanted to when so-and-so splashed me and yelled at me to come swimming when I didn't want to... Instead of lashing out, I retreated inside to play a game on the computer. What could be rude about that?

My cousin, Kara; me; one of my closest friends, Jenn.
I'm still close friends with these girls today. 

I couldn't verbalize it, but I needed time to recharge. And my time wasn't really mine growing up. Time belonged to tennis and the swim team and gymnastics and the exchange program that sent me to France [not complaining! But imagine what it was like for an introverted 10-year old to stay with a family of strangers for 3 weeks. I cried all the time; I was a wreck] and school dances and youth group and sleepovers [which stressed me out so much I would get a migraine and, inevitably, my dad would have to pick me up].

He doesn't care who I am as long as I'm myself. That's nice.

I am so grateful for all of the life experiences my parents allowed me to have, especially France at such a young age, but, like I said, I was made to feel like something was wrong with me. In fact, I was tested for ADHD when I was in 3rd grade. My dad is ADD and dyslexic. My sister is dyslexic. And the psychiatrist diagnosed my brother--another introvert--and I as ADD. It took a long time for me to realize I am not ADD. I'm just an introvert. Once again, imagine what school was like for an introvert! You start at 7:30A and are expected to pay close attention until 3:30P [or whenever you're released from school]. By 1P, after lunch, I was done. I would start to retreat into my head ["daydream"] in an effort to restore some of my energy. And at the end of the day, I would have to go home and tell my parents about school and start on homework. I was a grump. I didn't want to talk, I didn't want a hug, I didn't want a million questions pelted at me. Luckily, my mom thought I was having a hard time coming "down" off of my meds, so she instituted quiet time for me. As soon as I got home from school, I had to go up to my room, close the door, and do a quiet activity. My parents even put a chaise in my room as a reading nook and relaxation corner. Like I said, at the time, I had no idea I was an introvert. I, too, thought I was ADD. But teachers and psychiatrists and parents were giving me this attention and asking me why I was failing math and science and history [all of those classes took place in the afternoon!] and I just wanted to crawl into a hole and cry. There were honestly a few times where I was confused, "Who said I have a hearing problem? Why is the school social worker calling me into the hallway? AM I IN TROUBLE?! Oh my god. I think I'm going to cry. Why is everyone looking at me?"

It sounds silly. I wasn't fighting a disease. I didn't have a near-death experience. I wasn't abused. While my childhood had its fair share of problems, I had some truly great friends and parents who just wanted what they thought was best for me.

This discomfort I felt in my own skin, though? That took a while to come to terms with. Being called weird and snobby and "a bitch" and hermit [...though true] hurt. I had to forgive myself. I had to learn to love myself.

I just want to stay home all day with my dogs.
Even if that little one is crazy.

My heart just goes out to anyone who doesn't feel comfortable in their own skin. For any reason. There's nothing wrong with us! And that's all I'll say about that.

Whoa. A bit of writing diarrhea there! So sorry.

What sorts of things about yourself have you had to come to terms with? Serious, weird, or hilarious, I'm all ears. [And thanks for listening. I know it was a lot.]

xoxo, Amy

PS: I took that personality test for a third time and it told me I belong in New Mexico. Again. What the...


  1. I prefer word diarrhea on blogs.
    Feel for ya... seems like all of us introverts have some form of "What's wrong with me?" at one point or another.
    Also, you and your sister both have the prettiest eye colors.

  2. Amy,

    Thank you for sharing your school experiences.

    As a teacher, I struggled for a period a year or so with teaching the extroverted students, as I am an introvert. I didn't understand their need for peer work, for talking, for learning in different locations.

    One day I told myself I had to suck it up and learn them. My students weren't me and they learned differently than I did. They deserved the best education for them, whether I liked or preferred the method or not- as long as it was according to school rules.

    My classroom changed. I brought in yoga balls and stools. Students worked wherever they liked as long as they did the work, they were respectful, and all were responsible. We had good chats about having quiet time, for not everyone likes to talk. Those quiet students always sent looks of gratitude and relief, while the talkative ones shot "what? they don't like to talk? how can that be?"looks.

    I wish all students could learn with teachers who are willing to understand how they learn. I wish a lot more, but that might lead to a lot more words, so I'll end it here.

    Thank you, again, for sharing. (Wishing other teachers and administrators will read your post and share it!)

    All the best,



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