What’s Wrong With Being an Introvert? (Writing 101, Day 16)

People are always surprised when I tell them I’m an introvert.  “Really?” They ask.  “You seem so…” Fill in the blank:

  • Socially adept
  • Outgoing
  • Normal

In general, there’s a stigma surrounding what it means to be an introvert.  Introverts are the shy, awkward loners who sit in a corner avoiding people.  I can’t count the amount of times someone has criticized another by saying, “They’re just so introverted!”

But the thing is… none of this has to do with being an introvert.

Introversion is seen as a negative trait when, in reality, it’s nothing of the sort.  It has nothing to do with being socially awkward.  It has to do with where you get your energy/rest.  Extroverts gain their energy from being around other people–thus, they are seen as more social.  Being alone drains them.  Introverts are the opposite.  Being around people drains them and they refuel by doing things alone.  Another misconception is that you are either one or the other.  I tend to see introversion and extroversion not as categories, but as a scale.  On a scale of Introvert to Extrovert, where do you land?

Found this useful graphic on Google. Yay Google!

I’ve always been an introvert, but it’s been a journey figuring out how to take care of myself.  Because, opposed to popular belief, I actually really like being with people.  When I was younger, I’d hang out with large groups of people all the time.  While on church or band trips, where you’re surrounded by people, I didn’t know that I needed to pull away.  Because I didn’t know how to take care of myself in this aspect, I’d find myself experiencing bursts of crabbiness that did nothing to help my friendships.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to understand my introversion much better.  I’ve learned that removing myself from company and spending time alone is necessary to my mental health.  I now plan “Me-Time” into my schedule.  If I know I’ve got plans with friends or other social activities, I make sure to have time the day afterwards where I hang out by myself.  If I’m going on a big trip where I’ll be surrounded by people all the time, I sometimes go off on my own while everyone is hanging out.  Working at camp for three summers is a huge challenge for an introvert, but I usually managed to find time to sneak off on my own to re-fuel.

On the spectrum, I fall just to the left of the middle line.  I’m an introvert, but I’m less introverted than many of my friends.  I have found that too much time in my own head isn’t necessarily healthy. If I’m alone too long, I get angsty and lonely. That’s where the spectrum mindset it so useful. Because I’m aware, I’m very careful to balance  people time with me time. This involves making plans with friends a few times a week while keeping enough nights free to be alone.

I love being an introvert!  Most of my favorite pastimes require no company and the hours I spend reading, writing, and painting are what I most look forward to in the day.  Sometimes, I feel like I live for the few hours in the evening where I retreat into my own little world.

Where, readers, do you fall on the spectrum? Are you an introvert? Extrovert? Or a bit of both? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

This post is inspired by an assignment for the Blogging University class Writing 101: Finding Everyday Inspiration.

From one Introvert to everyone else

A friend recently tagged me in a post on Facebook linking to a Huffington Post article titled “An Open Letter From Introverts to Everyone Else“.  Although parts of the article were a bit blunt for my taste, I found the list extremely accurate.  I definitely encourage you to check out the original, but here is the list with my own comments.

1. Weekdays are Me Days

Unless I have a club meeting (which happens for an hour or so nearly night of the week), you can find me curled up in the apartment wearing my pajamas doing one of the following: pleasure reading, Netflix, pointless Internet browsing, or video games.  Gone are the days of hanging out in the evening just for fun.  If I don’t have somewhere to be, I’m staying in.

2. If you Call me, Have a Reason

This is less of an issue than it used to be.  I used to be afraid of the telephone.  I still loathe calling up strangers, be it to arrange a meeting, tell them they’ve been leaving messages for the wrong number on my phone, or solving technology issues.  Talking on the phone with people I don’t know is awful.  But it’s gotten better.

3. People We Know Better Be There

THIS.  Oh my goodness, THIS.  There are few things worse than making plans to do something with a friend and, the day of, finding out that a bunch of other people that we don’t know well are going to be there.  Unless they’re people I’m super close or comfortable with, I don’t like big groups.  Especially when I don’t know them.  I’m awkward with small talk, so hanging out with people that I can’t be real with is absolutely terrible.

4. We Are Okay Without a Bajilion Friends

Friends are great.  But I don’t like crowds or large groups of people.  I would much rather have a few close friends than many shallow ones.

5. We’re Intense

Yes.  We Introverts spend a LOT of time in our heads.  As a result, when we come out of our own little worlds, we can be a bit much.  There are times when I see people who are bubbly, happy-go-lucky, and constantly surrounded by wonderful looking people and wish I was like that.  And then I realize I’m WAY too serious.  I can be goofy, but generally don’t mess around.  I sometimes have trouble connecting with people because I am a fairly deep, intense person.  I focus and think about my schoolwork more than the average person I know and I have the Hermione Granger-esque habit of talking through essays point-by-point just because I take pleasure in it.


6. We Don’t Reach Out Well

Look in the middle of the previous paragraph.  See the sentence about having trouble connecting with people?  Yeah.  I’m a senior and have been involved in campus ministry all four years of school.  It’s grown a lot and I now no longer know the majority of the people.  There are times when I feel like I should go up to people, introduce myself, meet them, and reach out… I mean, I’ve done it in the past and it’s been great!  But now?  No.  Too much work.  Too much small talk, too much social interaction.

7. We Like You

Just because I spend a lot of time alone does not mean I don’t like people.  I love people.  I care very deeply about them.  To my extroverted roommate (who might be reading this), it’s not that I don’t love you.  I do.  Very much!  But in the evenings after a busy day, what I need to stay sane is to curl up by myself.  I need to enter my own head and rest, unperturbed by the rest of the world.

So there you go!  My thoughts on the article, and on being an introvert in general.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve had an extremely busy day and need to go have a Me Party…