"The internet is really important to your life," my mother remarked to me one evening nearly three and a half years ago now during the course of a discussion we were having about the web. It was said not as a question, but as the kind of statement one makes when they are able to truly see how meaningful something is to another person.
I was moved by her comment not only because it's spot on in its accuracy, but also because it's very touching to know that my mom (who doesn't blog or hang on social networking sites herself at all) gets just how pivotal to my daily life being online typically is to me.
The web is important to millions upon millions of people around the world, but today I'd like to touch on one reason in particular why it's been incredibly poignant part of my life for many years now.
You see, I am an introvert. By the simplest of definitions this means that I gather much of the energy that I need to propel me through life not from being around others or in social situations, but from my own personal alone time (or very nearly "alone time" - being around my husband, Tony, for example, thankfully does usually not drain me).
Extroverts, on the other hand, generally charge their proverbial batteries from being in social settings and around other people. Neither is better than the other, they're just different, and most people fall into one of two camps (though there are also some "middleverts", also known as ambiverts, such as Tony himself, who encompass qualities of both introversion and extroversion).
In many social settings I'm the designated listener. I observe, I contemplate, and when I do speak, I often rehearse my words in my head and then sometimes come very close to stuttering (which I did as a child, but usually do not, as an adult) as I try to get them out. Tongue-tiedness has been as much a part of my life as air I breath since day one.
Of course some settings are easier than others (stressful ones I find, especially those involving anything to do with my health, are amongst the most challenging for me), and sometimes I can "hide" my shyness so much a stranger would likely never know I wasn't a bubbly extrovert who'd never been shy a day in their life (for the record, there are shy extroverts, shyness is not something that only affects introverts).
I feel that I should point out that I do not have social anxiety disorder. I might not always want to be in social settings, but I rarely fear or dread them and can usually get through them relatively easily (blushing and tongue-tiedness aside). Sometimes I even like being part of a group, crowd or party setting, though given a choice, as an introvert, I do generally prefer to be alone or in a small group of people that I'm very comfortable with.
As well, I generally loath being the center of attention (yes, there are exceptions to that rule, but they're rare). I tend to shy away from the limelight, have an incredibly hard time talking about myself (more so in person), and will almost always let others be the life of the party (even at my own parties!).
To many - especially in this "look at me 24/7" world where it seems like everyone is clamoring to get their 15 seconds, let alone 15 minutes, of fame, this can seem like an utterly foreign concept, but I can't stress enough how true it is for me (and certainly some other shy and/or introverted folks out there, too).
Like many introverts and shy individuals, I tend to live in my head a lot. By this I mean that I am constantly thinking a million and one thoughts that I do not say aloud or which I only vaguely touch on when I do speak (and sometimes I quite literally forget to speak at all).
This quality of being has its pros and cons, but for the most part, I rather like it, especially since I've always be an analytical person who loves to think about all manner of subjects.
Throughout my life there have been lots of times when I struggled to convey through spoken words what it is that I wanted to say. Most people are familiar with being in this position, but for me it's something that happens nearly every day of my life (often multiple times). In many ways it was worse as a child in school and then when I was dating in my teen years (I got married when I was twenty), because it sometimes hindered my ability to make friends or be accepted by the group in social settings.
Another element of "living inside my head" a lot is that I often feel like I'm on the verge of exploding with creativity. I form plans, invasion crafts, write posts, daydream about events and myriad other things quietly to myself for most of the day. As a blogger this is an incredibly powerful and fantastic tool, as it means that I very rarely run into anything even remotely resembling writer's block.
The statement "I'm bored, there's nothing to do", is not one that was ever uttered from my mouth when I was a child, nor that you'll hear out of me these days either. Because quite, reflective alone time is so integral to introverts, we're prone to being creative types (writers, artists, crafters, composers, etc) who often best express ourselves through our things we create (blog posts very much included).
Beyond just coming up with ideas for posts through, it means that when I sit down to write at my computer for my blog (yes, I said "my" here twice on purpose), with no constraints, no pressure, and no one around to watch me work, I am free at long last to say as much or as little as I want. Finally the words and thoughts that have been forming quietly in my mind are free to speak in ways that they might never had, if only allowed to come out through my mouth.
In this respect, the internet is nothing short of a godsend for me. It gives me a platform to speak, and more over, to do so confidently. I don't flush when I write, I don't get tongue-tied as I type, and I don't grow increasingly self-conscious if I start writing a lengthy post the way I do if I've been talking to most people for more than a few moments.
The internet, blogging, and running an Etsy shop are empowering. They allowing me to speak clearly, confidently and happily, and to not have to second guess my words all the time (interestingly, and awesomely, I generally finding the same thing to be when it comes to my YouTube videos as well).
Though online forums, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and the like can still make me feel shy and uneasy sometimes, the longer I use them, the less I find this to be an issue (yay!).
Through blogging (and my shop) I get to meet and become friends with people around the world. I learn and am inspired by them, laugh, smile and share tears with them, and connect in a way that I likely would never be able to if not for the internet.
In my posts I am free to say whatever I want. There's rarely much in the way of shyness involved, no potentially draining public settings to contend with, and no need to be afraid of how what I say might actually come across (I've been told - and am the first to admit - that I often strike people as being very intense in person, which I think stems from the fact that I try to craft my words very carefully when I speak aloud and to transmit my point as accurately as possible).
In fact, I've found it's often one of the best ways to recharge my batteries, because it allows me to take some of many, many thoughts waltzing around unspoken in my mind, that I really want to discuses, and share them with the world. It might sound like an oversimplification, but my blog allows me to speak when my tongue won't.
I'll always be an introvert and I will always be a shy person, but thanks to the internet, I no longer have to be a silent person when I don't want to be, and that alone makes it one of the most meaningful and important things to ever become a part of my world.