Long before I know the word Introvert, I was and still am a very private person. I was most uncomfortable when socialising in a public event. You would see me standing alone in one corner holding a glass of drink during a cocktail reception. I would not attempt to meet up with new people. I am not good at small talk. (If I did because of career advancement, it would drain my energy.)
To see how I become who I am, I have to go back to how I was brought up.
Going to primary school had been an activity when I could leave my flat. My mother would not allow me to play at the open field fronting the flat. She wanted me to be safe and protected from strangers who might abduct me. I remember the horror stories of young kids who were beheaded and their heads were needed to build bridges. I was only allowed to go to the school and back. We were poor and going to movies and places of interest were rare. My window to the world was through the windows of my flat. I was brought up to be shy and a person who will not talk much. I would spend most of my time on study at home.
I was a quiet person during my school days, from primary school to university. I listened more than I talked. When I was in secondary school, I used to sit upfront near the teacher’s desk. Sometimes, my classmates would break up a chalk and threw it from behind. They aimed for our heads to score bull’s-eye. Gan Eng Seng School was an all-boys school then. Being boys, there were pranks they would play in the classroom. Chalks and paper airplanes flew everywhere when the teacher was not in the classroom. I was only close to some friends but I was not with many others. Thinking back, I was thankful that I was not bullied and my classmates left me alone.
Would I have survived under the current educational environment, where we were expected to speak up, to collaborate and to chiong1? I think I would fail miserably and a misfit.
Thankfully, presentation in class was not a big thing during those days. Group projects were not common. I could be miserable as speaking up was not my strength. Even till these days, I am more at ease being a passive person. You will not see me doing sales! This behavioural type developed because of my family background environment. We followed the adage: “Children should be seen and not heard.”
It was only after I went into National Service when I started to change. I took up leadership positions and I had the courage to stand-up and speak up. Even up to this day, I rather remain a quiet person during conversations. I am most comfortable when I am left alone.
1chiong, Singlish to mean chase the dreams, to be daring to take risk