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This is me. This is me from the day I was born. For so long I felt misunderstood and rejected, even by the people closest to me, because they could never understand my need for solitude, and I had no idea how to explain it to them. Even now that I know more about Introversion and have a more informed understanding of my hard-wired need for solitude, it’s still very difficult sometimes to help my loved ones understand this profound craving for time and space all to myself. This is one of the best…
Sharon
Your words are my lifeline.  I sit down to your posts and as I read I can feel my acceptance of myself and my needs grow.  Your words validate my feelings about my life, motherhood, relationships and it is something I hold onto.  And during the times when I feel like I am not able to be a mother or a wife or a sister or a friend or whatever someone needs me to be, I go back to your words and find some peace…I send your posts to my husband when I need him to understand that I love him but I need …
D.R.
That courage and dedication you so generously share with the world, has inspired me to push myself a little harder, persevere at each task a little longer, dig a little bit deeper to where the answers just “feel” right to both my humanity AND my spirit. Your insights have reinforced my direction and given me additional tools that help me clear my path. I’m wired into my creativity as never before and the new music is pouring out of me faster than I can record and produce it; this is the Un…
Gary
THANK YOU….. you just summed up my swirling thoughts into something i can read with out everything else in my head meshing with it. I finally feel like i can explain what happens within without getting distracted. I’m an Introvert with ADD and it makes it so hard to explain quite what im feeling sometimes. — M.G. on space2live
M.G.
For the first time in my life I could truly explain, through your words the way in which I experience life and myself. Brenda… It all fell into place. I had found myself and had such a moment of clarity. It felt like such a big weight was lifted off of my shoulders. Finally I felt like it was ok to be me. I was not the only one. I had found people and a little space where I fit in. … I was at work and crying on the inside. Emotions ran wild inside me. I was ecstatic, sad, confused, motivated, i…
Niko
Your site has saved my sanity and my life. Maybe even my marriage. I work part time and have two young boys at home, my husband is supportive of me but until recently I thought I was going crazy. … Reading your writing not only inspires me to pick up the pen again, but gives me nourishment in the deepest places. I will fight for balance. Everything you write is spot on… And wellness is so incredibly multifaceted.  I was ready to give up hope, but understanding myself through your words is bring…
J.K.

“I was struggling with my daughter (16 at the time) and our constant fighting. You said something to me that changed my life! You were speaking about your own situation and you said to me “my child could not handle my emotions”. This was a HUGE “lightbulb moment” for me and it forever changed the way I dealt with my emotions when I was around my daughter!

I am happy to say that things have never been better between my soon to be 18 year old daughter and myself! I honestly never thought we would…

Mom M
Thank you for all the words. You’ve created the magic drug I’ve been looking for all my life. Your blog has transformed my life, and I feel like I am on the brink of a most satisfying fulfilling journey…You’ve made me see everything in a new light. I now feel calmer, able to care better for my toddler, less hateful of people around, and hopeful for my future. I am not so afraid for our marriage anymore. — Shilpa CB
Shilpa CB
Brenda has truly opened up a space for introverted types on the ‘net, and her self-revelations are always inspiring. Her voice is one I always look forward to. She is one of the writers that actually played a part in my return to writing.  — S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
I met Brenda and took the MBTI… I had a fairly good understanding of these types before the meeting but was impressed by the depth of knowledge that Brenda shared with me. She clearly has a passion for this work and a gift in imparting the information. There have been doors opened for me because of our talks… — Alan Hintermeister
Alan Hintermeister

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Are Introverts More At Home in Small Communities?

Main Street SignI have convinced my children that I grew up in an unusually kind place with an ideal school system. They believe I came of age in a charmed atmosphere of friendship and supportive learning. In my opinion, I did. gravel dirt road-Alberta landscape-pincher creekMy hometown, Alma, is a small community of 9000 people in central Michigan. We had one high school with about 1000 students total. Rural space and farms surround the town itself. My parents’ homes were in the country part next to creeks and dirt roads but I spent half of my time in town with my friends, loitering inside the record shop (Sound Depot) and outside the 7/11.7-11 Perhaps because the community was small and there wasn’t a huge socioeconomic gap between the rich and the poor, there wasn’t an atmosphere of competition or one-upmanship. If anything, I remember people reaching out to each other. My dad knew everybody because of our local business. The merchants looked out for each other and had a vested interest in keeping the downtown area thriving.

Teachers knew us

Our teachers cared about us and we knew it. There were fewer students to know and teach. The teachers knew of each student’s family. They could truly know us. It was easier to make a connection. I am still connected on Facebook with several teachers, including my kindergarten teacher. I STILL feel like they care because they, along with former classmates, cheer me on as I cheer them on. It is a constant comfort given I’ve lived in several states and occasionally feel like I’m out on my own, untethered, without a real home. There is an Facebook page where members contribute memories and photos from Alma of yore. One post asked members to tell about their favorite teacher from Alma Public Schools. It was fun and nostalgic to hear names I hadn’t heard in decades. Finally, a place for teachers to get their proper reverence. I gave props to my English  and Spanish teachers (even back then enamored with words and language) but… one person had to go rogue and disparage a well-known teacher. This teacher’s daughter happened to be a contributor to the site.The response from the rest of the group was swift and clear. This was not a place to go negative. This was a safe place to wax positively about teachers who made a difference. Warm and fuzzies abound. My kids could not believe no one else took the opportunity to bash the bad teachers.

Out for ourselves

My kids have a different experience. The teachers care at my kids’  schools but there are 4000 students in the district high school and the competition and drive for achievement is fierce. The community and support I felt have been replaced with insecurity and pressure. It’s necessary to be assertive, aggressive even. This goes for students and parents. It’s a game of working the system rather than working together. What I notice as different between my hometown and where I live now is we did not have to fight for everything. We didn’t have to ultra excel. We didn’t have to push ourselves every second of the day. There was time to loiter. Time to rest in solitude.Time to laugh. Time to talk.Time to help each other. My childhood was more idealistic and nurturing than competitive and striving.

Perhaps introverts are more suited for rural areas or small towns?

3403_farmer_strw_hat_1020Susan Cain wrote in Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Won’t Stop Talkingabout the shift from rural america to urban living during the industrial revolution. During this period the public’s focus moved from reflective time and personal character (what you would do if no one was looking) to mass productivity and competition (what do you have to offer in order to get the job, mate, living space). We moved from an introspective perspective to a personality comparison. The one with the most charm and outgoing production-linejpg-1024x772energy wins. In other words, the more introverted nature lost out to the more gregarious extroverted nature. I am quite sure I have romanticized my hometown but isn’t that a good thing? I could have bitter, unhappy memories of my community, but I don’t. As an idealistic and sensitive introvert I thrived in a small community. Perhaps it was the lack of competition and crowds. Perhaps it was the overall positive helpful kindness I found there. Whatever the case, I miss the simplicity. I miss the space to live. The space to care. The space to be cared for by the village.

Do you think small towns or large cities are more conducive to an introvert’s way of living? What aspects of each benefit an introvert? 

If you enjoyed this post you may also love:

I’d Rather Not Compete With You:For Introverts or Anyone Who Prefers Excellence Over Dominance

Introverts Not Meant to Live the Cookie-Cutter Life?

Sensuality in the Suburbs:Redefining the Norm

Puberty for the Second Time: A Transition Not a Mid-Life Crisis

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15 Comments

  1. ally November 28, 2014 at 5:24 am - Reply

    I forgot to mention in my previous comment that I’m from Europe (never been to USA and don’t know its life pace). Some cities here in Europe (even capitals) are not stressful (for example Brussels, Belgium, and its “communes”; people here are usually calm, nice, slow-paced), that’s why I’m not sure if I would move to a smaller town in the near future. However, I’ve lived in fast-paced, crowded cities, too. I would not like to live there again (to much air and noise pollution and impatient people).

    Nice blog, congratulations!

    • Brenda Knowles November 29, 2014 at 8:19 pm - Reply

      I think I need to visit several of those ‘not stressful’ cities. They sound ideal.:) Thanks for sharing your perspective.

  2. ally November 27, 2014 at 7:47 am - Reply

    I am an introvert myself and sometimes I, too, dream about being closer to nature and living in a rural area or at the outskirts of a small town. I spent my childhood in a village at my grandparents’ house. As a child, I loved the sense of freedom and peace that that area gave me (I love nature, animals, trees), but as a young adult I sometimes got bored by the lack of diversity in activities and people around me.
    We may not always realize it, but it is possible that, sometimes, the diversity of people in cities energizes us, even if we don’t talk to them. However, cities that are constantly very crowded and noisy can have quite the opposite effect on us.

    Regarding the people in small communities, they generally seem calmer and usually more at peace with themselves. That’s because life there is not so fast-paced. People have time to talk to each other and enjoy simple things. They are not engaged in a competition. In large cities, life is more expensive, people are numerous and competitive.

    One disadvantage of living in small communities is, like other people here mentioned, the lack of privacy. Everybody knows what you are doing, where you are going and often ask personal questions quite directly. I am not so used to that anymore and I enjoy the sense of anonymousness, especially after having lived in the city for many years.

    Ideally, I’d like to have two places: one in the city (an apartment) and one in nature (a house with a yard and a beautiful view where I could recharge my batteries whenever necessary). As long as I’m still young, I’d like to have the possibility of swinging between the two. 🙂 But when I’m older, I’d probably want to live in a small community, tend my garden, play with my dogs, walk in the fields, talk patiently with a neighbor from time to time, or read in my backyard.

    • Brenda Knowles November 29, 2014 at 8:09 pm - Reply

      I am with you 100%. I agree the diversity of people in cities energizes us. I like having the opportunity to meet/talk to/observe all kinds of people. I may not act on the opportunity but I like that it’s there.:)

      I could handle two homes. One small apt. in the city in an amazing location and one more rural, possibly near water. I appreciate simplicity so as long as I could live with minimal pulls on my attention I could be happy. Thank you for sharing your view. I think we are kindred spirits.:)

  3. Spinster November 8, 2014 at 5:48 pm - Reply

    Born & raised in New York City. I prefer either living in a big city or living NEAR a big city. I like going home to a quiet place, whether that’s a quiet neighborhood in the city or a suburb nearby.

    • Brenda Knowles November 9, 2014 at 9:41 am - Reply

      I understand. I had the same peaceful experience going home to my quiet apartment in Chicago. I am striving to find that quiet peace in the suburbs. Thanks so much for your input.

  4. Ruth Rainwater November 7, 2014 at 5:23 pm - Reply

    I have always lived in larger cities and towns or the suburbs of those places. While a small town might be better, I’m not sure I want everybody in my business. I think I prefer my self imposed isolation that I can break any time I need to.

    • Brenda Knowles November 8, 2014 at 8:44 am - Reply

      I definitely see the benefits of living in a larger city or suburb. I’ve been doing that for the last 25 years. I like the opportunities and choices that come with bigger communities. I never had the feeling everyone was in my business when I lived in my small hometown, perhaps because I was a child then.
      I’m glad you have found your home Ruth.:)

  5. Karen November 7, 2014 at 4:48 pm - Reply

    Very interesting post. I am an introvert who grew up in a relatively small community, and I ended up moving to New York City when I finished my education — and I am still here, living in the middle of Manhattan, 35 years later!

    For me, the big city is preferable. Of course, in many ways, for people who live here, NYC is just a series of villages, piled on top of one another (I think Garrison Keillor came up with that one, but it’s really true. It’s easy to find community through common interests, which is my favorite way of connecting with people. And I can retreat to my apartment and have quiet alone time whenever I want — I can get everything I need delivered — groceries, restaurant meals, and so forth. I love the yin and yang of it. For the past five years, I have been in a life situation where I could easily move elsewhere, but I have deliberately chosen to stay here.

    I do sometimes miss the countryside (though I get out into nature often on vacations and short excursions). But I don’t miss the sense that everyone is always watching me and noticing when I don’t conform to their expectations. As a high school student, I was ostracized because I was studious and intelligent and interested in “weird” things like serious literature and classical music, and even my friends teased me about not liking roller coasters and loud parties. In the city, there is such a diversity of people that everyone seems to be more tolerant of differences — not just of race, national origin and religion, but temperament and interests as well.

    So I think probably there isn’t one answer to this question. Probably, we introverts can make good lives for ourselves in a variety of places, if we understand and respect our introversion.

    • Brenda Knowles November 8, 2014 at 8:38 am - Reply

      Well said Karen. I absolutely appreciate the benefits of a large city and since I live outside Minneapolis I appreciate your Garrison Keillor reference.:) I lived in Chicago for five years and loved the anonymity it allowed as well as the opportunities for selective socializing. My apartment there with its hissing radiators and creaking floors was a wonderful sanctuary after a long day at work and noisy commute home.
      It sounds like you found your ideal home. I agree, introverts can be adaptable and find our comfort zones in a variety of environments. We may have to be more assertive about it in some places but that’s OK. I wonder if people in large cities or people in small towns are more aware and respectful of the traits of introversion?
      Thanks for sharing your experience. I loved your insight into city living.

  6. mihrank November 7, 2014 at 4:19 pm - Reply

    this is such great blog brings experience and understanding to us!

  7. Andrea B. November 7, 2014 at 3:21 pm - Reply

    I loved this post. I, too, have a similar experience, and moved from a metropolis back to my hometown to raise my son. Aside from everyone knowing your business, it’s a good thing. While an introvert can easily “hide” in a city of a million people, I’ve noticed that we tend to crave the quiet, slower life, surrounded by nature.
    BTW, I know Alma, as I taught at a university a few miles from there. Beautiful place!

    • Brenda Knowles November 8, 2014 at 8:21 am - Reply

      I’ve lived in big cities (Chicago) and my small hometown and found sanctuaries in both. My introversion became more apparent after having children, perhaps because I was rarely alone and the pace got faster. My nostalgia regarding my hometown could be the loss of that freedom to come and go in and out of social situations. Life in the 70s and 80s was simpler too. Whatever the reason, I have very fond memories of the people and town I grew up in.
      Did you teach at CMU Andrea? In Grand Rapids? That’s so cool you know of Alma.:)

      • Andrea B. November 8, 2014 at 12:18 pm - Reply

        Yes, Brenda, it was CMU. 🙂

        You’re right about the post-kid(s)-introversion connection. Staying up late, just to have alone time, was my way of getting more of what I needed. (Of course, sacrificing sleep is not the answer, but it seemed like it was then.)

        On another note, for years, I’ve found myself pushing all my girlfriends away. They tended to want to “talk out” their stress, but that only sucked my energy. I don’t want to talk for hours about what’s going on anymore; I only want to be home and allow time and space to heal me and the situation. I think I’m getting better at letting people know that it’s not them; it’s me. I now have a friend who’s very much the same, and we can come and go into each other’s lives without the other one hurting from “abandonment.”

        Peace, love, and space!
        -Andrea

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