Here’s an inviting New Year’s resolution for introverts everywhere: Go forth—go ahead and be the introvert you are, without justification or apology.
When I was young, my mom used to throw around a little two-word phrase that I didn’t really understand at the time.
“Go forth,” she would often say to me, particularly when I was struggling with something in my middle and high school years—when, for example, girls came along to terrify and attract me at the same time, or when some of my close friends started drinking and partying and I didn’t want to join them.
I never truly knew what “go forth” meant, and for all I know Mom didn’t either. Maybe she just had no idea what else she could say in the moment to be helpful, and so “go forth” was merely her parental get-out-of-jail-free card after a long discussion about a problem with no ready-made solution.
The more I think about it now, though, the more I believe that there was, and still is, much more to my mom’s “go forth” mantra than I ever realized.
I think she was telling me—urging me, in her own special way—to use my own brain, follow my own instincts, trust my own feelings, and do my own thing.
She was telling me to just be me.
“Go Forth” and Introversion
The concept of introversion wasn’t on either of our radar screens at the time. I suppose we had both heard the word introvert, but I imagine that we, like most of the rest of the world, simply equated it with shyness and nothing more.
I myself didn’t learn about introversion until graduate school in the mid 1990s. The moment I came out as introverted on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®, my eyes were (finally) opened—so much so that I wanted to share my new insights with my mom.
When I did, I learned something that stunned me.
My mom—the same woman who turned childhood grocery store trips into three-hour ordeals because she talked to every damn person in sight at Red Owl; the same woman who, being originally from Canada, stalked and then interrogated anyone she encountered who uttered the word “eh”; the same woman who sang in the choir at church every Sunday morning and then inevitably wanted us all to drop by some relative’s place right after services so we could sit and visit for several hours over cigarettes, coffee, and Oreos instead of going home to blissful peace and quiet—this woman was …
An introvert herself.
Her own completion of the Myers-Briggs confirmed it.
So maybe she related far more to my various teen struggles than I ever imagined.
And maybe that’s what “go forth” has meant all this time.
A New Year’s Resolution for Introverts
As this new year unfolds, my mom has been on my mind a lot lately. So has my dad.
Dad was the introvert’s introvert. I couldn’t help but learn about my own introversion by simply being around him and observing his whole way of being in the world.
Turns out, though, that I learned an awful lot about my introversion from Mom, too.
Top lesson: Be me.
I hope you’ll do the same in the year ahead.
Yes, it can be easier said than done. We all need little nudges and reminders to help us along. So here, inspired by my mom, is …
A New Year’s Resolution
for Introverts Everywhere
I resolve this year to just go ahead and be me—to be the introvert I am, without justification or apology.
No more constantly defending myself. No more pretending to be the extrovert I’m not. I’m done with all that.
I resolve as well to see my introversion not as something to correct, but as something to respect.
Finally, I resolve to capitalize on my many strengths—working independently, listening to people and actually hearing them, thinking carefully, researching thoroughly, focusing intently without needing to be supervised or entertained, and so many more—instead of dwelling on my weaknesses.
Yes, I have things to work on, just like everyone else.
But my introversion isn’t one of them.