As an introvert, I constantly find myself wandering down differing paths of potential conversation – but (un)luckily for those around me, these intriguing diversions are only inside my head. I am an attentive listener, but I have this factory churning out thoughts in the background, and it has become an automated process while my brain manages the intake of information. The factory considers possible connections or stories I could tell in relation to yours, but if there are too many people in the group, I rarely open my mouth. There is too much to take in. There is too much to learn. Putting my own experiences into words with which I am satisfied takes time, which is not always ample in group conversations.
I’ve become so absorbed with listening to what others have to say that when someone asks me, “what do you think about that?” my mental factory grinds to a halt. It takes a long time to switch gears between observing/cataloguing to creating verbal output. It isn’t very often that someone has the patience to wait during this process, group setting or not. I do have a really great person who supports me when I do this, but it is not something that would suit a group setting; instead of one person waiting for me to come up with intelligent feedback, I’d be weighted down by multiple sets of eyes, potential exasperated sighs, and more than likely “my time” would be up before I could bring myself to say what I want with the eloquence it deserves.
When asked something to which I don’t know the immediate, short answer, I need time to think it over, then give my verbal response (maybe; sometimes I keep it to myself, or write about it instead). I don’t talk just for the sake of talking; when I talk, I am trying to express something specific. I may need to write down a specific thought I have and flesh it out when I have more capacity for tending to my own thoughts, as I default to listening to those around me. I feel rude when I do this (no, I’m not texting, I’m using the Memo Pad on my phone so I don’t forget this thing I want to explore).
This can be frustrating. I have certainly felt other people get upset with the amount of time and space I need to produce a seemingly simple answer. It is rarely simple; this world is complex, and although I am more than willing to concede that I don’t know much on the grand scale of things, I want what I do put forth to not just be the product of a time crunch. If I speak too soon, I end up doing a lot of clarifying. I want to do all of that work ahead of time, so my thought product is easier to understand, instead of letting others sit through my entire thought process.