Idag, denna snöfyllda, andra advent kommer en ny intervju här på bloggen! Denna gång är det Michael Schiller som driver Facebook-sidan ”Social Introverts” som vi får lära känna lite bättre. Bilderna som finns med är tagna från hans egen sida och eftersom han är engelskspråkig blir den just på engelska. Så, ta er en lussebulle och lite glögg och börja läs!
Today, this snow-filled, second Advent, a new interview is published on the blog! This time it’s Michael Schiller who runs the Facebook page ”Social Introverts” that we get to know a little better. The images included are taken from his own page and because he is englishspeaking the interview is in English. So, sit down with a saffron bun and some mulled and spice wine and start reading!
My name is Michael Schiller. I’m a youthful and I’m modestly employed at an insurance company. I grew up in a very small town in Iowa, USA, served five years in the US Navy, mostly in Japan, and now live in the capitol city of Des Moines.
How did you find out that you were introverted?
I always assumed I was an introvert, without actually knowing what that means. I had always been quiet, and better at being alone than fitting in. Like many introverts, I thought I was shy, or that I had Social Anxiety Disorder, or some other form of psychological hindrance.
It wasn’t until the first half of 2013 that I first learned something of what it really means to be an introvert, that it is something physiological and not psychological, that it is natural and normal, and that everything I value in myself is a product of it. That revelation came when a new friend sent me a link to an article about Susan Cain’s book, Quiet.
How have people around you expressed their reactions concerning your introverted personality?
There seem to be two primary schools of though among extraverts upon observing my introverted behavior. One school concludes that I am troubled, that some experience or other has compelled me to lock myself in a shell to protect myself from judgement or other danger; that I minimize my efforts at social contact out of the assumption that I will be rejected, humiliated, abused or condemned. Some want to help heal me; others pity me from a distance. The other, less charitable school of thought assumes that I am perfectly capable of interacting and socializing on the same scale as extraverts, but out of an arrogant presumption of superiority, I choose not to. In a reality where what is natural is to embrace and engage everyone and, and where ideas are external things that make a welcome noise, a person who is most often quiet and engrossed entirely in his own company must have a reason peculiar to himself for rejecting the company of others. That’s the reality occupied by those extraverts who are uninformed of the natural differences in our natures.
How did you look upon your introverted personality before compared with how you see it today?
I spent my whole life believing that I was damaged, and I’m not sure a day ever went by when I didn’t wonder how and when the fracture occurred. I hated who I was, because I assumed that person was a mistake, a tower of flaws that stood in the place of the person I was meant to be. I thought I was missing out on all of life, because life seemed made up of those things that other people enjoyed that I could not.
The moment I learned what introversion is, and that it is naturally inherent in me, wired by design into my brain, everything changed. It was only because I thought I wasn’t normal that I lamented my predisposition to solitude and quiet. In the past, I couldn’t even fully enjoy solitude, because I continually berated myself for needing it. I thought I was afraid of people, and of living. Now I understand that it’s natural for me to want to spend time alone, that I don’t frequently seek out stimulation because I’m constantly provided with it internally, in a way that extraverts are not.
Learning about introversion also helped me realize how closely it is associated with the aspects of my personality that I always cherished: my artistry, my philosophy, my love of books and of writing. I now love being an introvert and the gifts that come along with that. I enjoy my time alone immensely, and I’m also able to make better decisions about how and when I socialize, without ever feeling ashamed when I can’t conjure the desire. I’m not embarrassed; I’m happy to explain myself to anyone.
You also identify yourself as a highly sensitive person, which strengths do you see in this type of personality trait?
High sensitivity provides challenges, but it does provide benefits that I value. I have a keen sense of awareness. I observe beauty everywhere I go, and can always draw a sense of peace from it. I’m a tourist of familiar places. I’m also strongly empathetic. If I’m paying attention, I can always determine what people are feeling, and what is motivating them. This gives me a powerful morality, a sense of right and wrong. I will always be fair to others, even if it means compromising something I want.
How do you make sure that you don’t run out of energy in your daily life?
I don’t. My current job requires me to interact with a great number of people. It leaves me exhausted, so that I rarely have the desire for company outside of work. But the great thing about understanding introversion, is that I now know why I feel tired and crave isolation, and I can act on that knowledge. So I have taken steps, and will soon be moving to a more introvert-friendly position within the company I work for.
What would your advice be to an insecure introverted person who feels like it’s something ”wrong” with him or her?
Educate for yourself. For me, all it took was a basic understanding of introversion, knowing that it was not a psychological mistake, and it was like a switch was flipped. I was happier than I had ever been. Some people take more convincing. They find it difficult to stop comparing themselves to others and feeling like they’re missing out. But remember this: Extraverts struggle the same as introverts, only in different ways. If they don’t get enough social interaction, they can become lethargic, even depressed. We will never know the loneliness that they can know. Current societal precepts aside, they are not better off, and they are not more capable of happiness. So if you lament your social limitations, you are only coveting some perfect conglomeration of traits that is possessed by almost no one. And the misconceptions about us are changing; awareness is increasing. Many extraverts have already embraced us and have striven to understand and appreciate what makes us different. Articles about introversion are becoming so prevalent on the internet that some people are even starting to complain. This is also a good thing. Before long, there will be no excuse for anyone remaining ignorant about our value and our normalcy.
You started the page Social Introverts on Facebook; could you tell my readers about this?
Before I started Social Introverts the Facebook page, I started Social Introverts the meetup group at meetup.com, which boasts a membership of 534 as of today, and grows constantly, proving the SI slogan true: Social Introverts: It’s not a contradiction. I initially created the Facebook page to tie in to the group, but almost immediately decided to broaden its scope. By now, I was on a mission. I started SI because it breaks my heart to think of people living the way I did for so long, when all it will take for many to finally be happy is to encounter that simple spark of knowledge. I started with a meetup group, then a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a Tumblr blog and a news aggregator, all because I want to help ignite that spark in others.
What are your plans for the future with Social Introverts?
To keep going. Since I started, I have been contacted many times by people who wanted to thank me, because something I shared on my page, or because the community that has gathered around it, was a catalyst for their own self-acceptance. I’ll keep going until there is no longer any point, because the truth about introverts will have become common knowledge, and everyone of us will be free to love who we are.