“Okay, something’s up. What is it?”
“What do you mean?” I replied.
“I can tell something’s bugging you,” said my friend. “You might as well just tell us what’s wrong.
She was right. I was pissed, but I didn’t think anyone had noticed. Heck, I hadn’t even consciously noticed I was miffed until a moment earlier. True to my introverted nature, I had decided to keep quiet about what was bothering me to avoid conflict.
I was just going to slap on my neutral face (which many people have told me is hard to read), nibble on my fish tacos and pretend all was right in the world while I secretly stewed. Meanwhile, my friend seemed to be caught up in her conversation with our other friend. How did she pick up on my annoyance so quickly?
The observant introvert
My friend is an introvert. Like most introverts, she tends to notice things others miss. She could tell the difference between my usual peaceful-quiet-face, and my angry-quiet-face. Dammit.
During the year or so that we’ve known one another, I’ve seen that this particular friend notices other things, too. She is the party host who hands you a fresh napkin milliseconds after you thought you might want one. If I go to an event with her, she remembers specific details about most of the guests. For example, if I mention the guy we met who was wearing a blue shirt, she’ll say something like, “You mean the guy in the denim button-up and corduroys? Or the guy in the blue dress shirt and dark jeans?”
She observes the world around her with the same attention to detail. “Look how the tips of the trees poke out from the clouds on top of that mountain over there.” Meanwhile, I’m like, “there’s a mountain over there? Never noticed. ”
My creepy noticing abilities are concentrated on facial expressions and feelings. I’m good at reading people, but not particularly observant of my physical surroundings. I think it’s like this for a lot of introverts. We are exceptionally observant in certain ways, and kinda oblivious in others. I like to think it’s what makes us so darn adorable. ?
Of course, sometimes our ability to notice what others miss is a pain in the ass. We assume everyone can read in between the lines the way we do. When they obviously cannot, we wonder if we’ve just been imagining things.
Other times, we know we are not imagining it. We’ve noticed something that we cannot unnotice: a look of longing between our lover and another; a condescending glance from an alpha extrovert; a piece of garbage floating in the stream near our house. Sometimes, it hurts to notice. But the rewards can be rich.
Noticing allows us to make a change. We can leave our lover, who never knew how to love us anyway. We can make a wide circle around the condescending guy and find a friend who accepts us for who we are. We can get rid of the trash in our life.
One of the best parts about being an observant introvert is that we can make fellow innies feel seen. That’s exactly what my friend did when she noticed that I was upset. Noticing says, “I see you and I care.” This is way different, by the way, than some stranger assuming something is wrong just because we’re quiet.
Overall, our ability to pick up on what others miss is a major asset for introverts. It’s one of the many strengths that we too easily take for granted. So, just in case you’d forgotten, I wanted to let you know … I noticed you noticing things, and I wanted to put you on notice that I notice things too. 😉
What about you?
Do you pick up on things others miss?
What do you tend to observe more – environment or emotions?