When an introvert’s desire to learn is larger than the desire to avoid.

Being naturally introverted in a world that embraces extrovert behaviour can sometimes make a person feel unnatural; off; questioning if all can ever be right in the world if there is no extrovert streak that exists in oneself.

My friends and family always tease me about being the person that will be in a room full of people but will very comfortably fall asleep on the sofa or if there are pets around, seek them out and enjoy their company. Both circumstances mean there’s a high possibility of going the entire evening not speaking to humans. And normally this behavior would be interpreted as rude mannered or anti-social. Thank goodness my family have to just deal with it and my friends have been down this road with me for so long there’s no point turning around now.

I’ve learnt that as an introvert and being someone who needs a fairly decent amount of quiet alone time to re-energise; bordering on questioning the potential of becoming a recluse or finding that balance of human interaction can be tricky. Recognising though at a very deep, emotival level that humans are social creatures, I’ve learnt to adapt to my circumstances and become somewhat of an ambivert but there’s this constant feeling that maybe I do not completely fit in.

It’s a strange feeling; always observing life from the outside, looking in. Not in, but not out either. It brings up images of people standing outside shop windows looking in, wondering who is buying what for whom. Over time I’ve recognized that the choice to open the shop door or window may be mine; and more often than not it allows me to window shop absorbing all that I walk past. One may see this as belonging nowhere however I’ve changed my view and seen it as me belonging everywhere because I belong nowhere.

Something that has helped me balance my introversion is my desire to learn. Everything. Everything about everything. The desire to learn means being curious. Being curious means having questions. Having questions that I may want answered means engaging with individuals and thus my introversion suddenly makes me become an ambivert.

Always seeking, always challenging my own viewpoint and always trying to determine emotions and scenarios from all viewpoints, belonging everywhere has allowed me to naturally move towards that which I do not understand; or even towards that which I immediately become aware of having previously avoided.

And thus, enter “The Forty Rules of Love” by Elif Shafak. Generally just that title would be off-putting for me. Running through my mind, I do not remember ever reading a novel about love or romance. I avoid reading about such topics, however having read two novels by the same author and this book being based on one of my favorite poets, I thought this would be a good learning. A learning to understand my own avoidance. The challenge being to read the book without judgement, without eye rolling and with an openness to be curious.

Over time I have learnt that life is anything but a straight line. Growing up I always seeked certainty, yes or no answers believing I would gain comfort in the known. The more I live, the more knowledge I gain, the more I come to understand and learn that life is anything but certain.

Reading this novel, which was a novel in a novel, I surrendered to this belief. Life is uncertain. And the more I learn, the more I understand that it’s because life is uncertain, the only way I can move through it is by accepting that which is; that because I know little, I move towards that which I normally avoid and because I know even less, the only way is to be curious. This burning desire to learn and understand removes the need to fit in anywhere, the wanting to judge, the inability to face any fear. Recognising the burning desire to learn is only the beginning.

If you want to strengthen your faith, you will need to soften inside. For your faith to be rock solid, your heart needs to be as soft as a feather. Through an illness, accident, loss, or fright, one way or another, we all are faced with incidents that teach us how to become less selfish and judgemental, and more compassionate and generous. Yet some of us learn the lesson and manage to become milder, while some others end up becoming even harsher than before. The only way to get closer to Truth is to expand your heart so that it will encompass all humanity and still have room for more Love” – Elif Shafak.

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