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.

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

I’ve been nominated by Katie from Tick Tock for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award.  Her blog is absolutely wonderful and worth checking out! I have a tradition of awkwardly not nominating others for awards and such (feels too much like chain mail), so I’m just going to stick to the questions. Katie’s Questions: 1- What is your favorite book? Les Misérables by Victor Hugo.  The first time I read it unabridged, I didn’t know what to do with myself for a week.  I felt like I had lost a very dear friend.  Hugo has crafted a novel that captures the essence of the human existence.  It cuts into places in my heart and mind I didn’t know existed, never failing to deeply move me.  Though the musical is excellent, it doesn’t do the source material justice.  I highly recommend it to any lover of literature (though you may want to go for an abridged version your first time through.) 2-Why did you start blogging? Back in my maniac Potterhead days, I made a friend name Cathy on a forum for a podcast we both listened to.  She was a fellow writer (her poetry was incredible) and had a blog.  I was fifteen at the time and it seemed like a fun/cool thing to do.  I liked the idea of having a corner of the internet of my own.  Cathy and I lost touch, but nearly eight years later, I’m still blogging. 3-What is your favorite part of blogging? On my “About This Blog” page, I state, “I write to know myself. I  write to figure out where I’m going.  And I write to have fun.”  These three elements are what I love most about blogging.  Words help me solidify my identity.  They help me sort through the craziness of being a college graduate with no idea what the future holds. Finally, blogging is fun.  The first blog I ever had was titled “Between the Pages”–I liked to imagine that I was writing my life story, one post at a time.  This idea still appeals to me.  I also love that blogging is a public sphere.  It’s a place where I can share these aspects of my life and growth with others and, in turn, participate in their lives as well. 4-If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live? Honestly, I’m still figuring this out.  I’d love to live on a lake.  I’d love to live in the mountains.  I’d love to live in a foreign city somewhere in Europe.  Hopefully, I can cover all three before I die! 5-What is your favorite thing to do when you just need some time for yourself? Reading.  Books allow me to retreat within myself while, at the same time, reaching outside of my life.  They allow me to socialize while alone, travel without actually moving, and experience thoughts and emotions I’d never get a taste of on my own.  They are the ultimate form of escapism, pushing me to empathize with people and worldviews that I normally would never encounter.  When I read, I soar.  When I put the book down, I’m left feeling rejuvenated and refreshed. Thanks again, Katie, for the nomination!

Day of rest

Sundays are the best days of the week.

During the week, I’m constantly on the go.  Pair that with volunteering on Friday night, speech judging on Saturday, and a visit from Mom… Sunday is a well-needed break.

My Sundays start by attending church with my old roommates.  It’s so good to set aside all my cares and rest in God’s presence.  It’s the re-fueling I need to get me through another week.  I love my church.  I’ve gone there all four years of school and it’s beginning to sink in that I have to start afresh come May.

When church is done, I usually make the trek over to the gym.  (I skipped working out today, though, ’cause it was -45 degrees and being outside longer than necessary was not okay.)

Sunday afternoons bring a balance of homework and relaxation.  I usually throw on leggings, a comfy sweater, and spend a few hours in the basement of the library pumping out essay drafts.  Today, I managed to snag the poetry room.  It was absolutely divine.

After all the homework is out of the way, I return to my dorm, make dinner, and spend an evening in introvert paradise.  Tonight, I’ll be snacking on chips and salsa while catching up on episodes of Arrow.  (I tried for an hour to figure out how to livestream the Oscars on my computer… it ended in failure.  I’m pretty cut up about it.)

Yes, I do stay busy on Sundays.  But, overall, it’s the most relaxing day of the week.  I can choose where I go, what I do, and who I’m with.  For once, I have control over my schedule.  It’s wonderful to have at least one day of the week to spend quality time resting.

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Studying in the poetry room. In my happy place.

 

What is your ideal Sunday?

 

My new happy place

It’s been a surprisingly beneficial thing, living alone.

I can come and go as I please.  I can do home workouts without fear of someone walking in on me in the middle of an awkward-looking exercise.  I can enter my weird little essay-planning mind palace, muttering to myself pacing back and forth as I sort through ideas.  I can curl up in the darkness reading my Kindle.  When I need to be alone, I can be alone.  When I need to be with people, I can search out my friends.

My  week has been relatively light homework-wise.  That hasn’t stopped me from working ahead, but for the first time all semester, I feel relaxed and at peace.

I feel like I’m right where I need to be.  Yes, I’m still looking forward to graduation and saying goodbye to academia.  But I’m finally in a place where I can sit back and enjoy my last few months of college.

Welcome to my new happy place.

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What brings you life?

A good friend of mine has a job at an after-school program teaching coping mechanisms to teens with depression and anxiety.  When I asked her more about what she does, she replied, “We have them set goals every week.  These goals fall into two categories: Do things that make you feel accomplished and do things that bring you life.”  She then looked at me and asked, “Amelia, what brings you life?”

It’s something I’ve been thinking about ever since.

The first category is simple.  I feel accomplished by doing things that are practical–by making a list and checking off all the items.  (Yes, in my Meyers-Briggs I’m a strong J).  I feel accomplished by doing a job well, by striving for excellence, by working hard.  Schoolwork is good for this, even though at this stage in my life I’d rather be doing other things.

Life-bringing activities are harder to pin down.

You see, there are lots of things that don’t bring me life.  Trudging through the bitter cold is upsetting, though as a hardy Minnesotan I hardly complain.  People bustling around disturbs my thoughts.  Trying to cook dinner at the same time as two of my other roommates tests my patience.  Overly pretentious classmates annoy me.  Having the super-bright fluorescent ceiling lights in the apartment on after dark makes my skin crawl.

What, though?  What fills me up when the world sucks me dry?

Reading for pleasure.  There’s nothing more special than curling up in bed and reading by candlelight, than getting lost in a world that exists within your own mind, than falling in love and friendship with people who don’t exist.

Deep conversations with good friends.  Most of the time, these take place over the phone.  You see, I don’t let a lot of people close (typical trait for an INFJ), so the time I have with those I deeply care about is extremely special.

Encouraging others spiritually.  I love leading Bible studies and praying for people.  I love when I can speak truth into the lives of others and help them draw closer to God.  This brings me so much life that it’s what I want to do every day until I die.

Spending time alone.  Granted, too much alone time makes me go crazy.  (Another typical INFJ trait).  But there’s something incredibly calming about being in a room with no one around and only my thoughts to keep me company.

Tonight, I took advantage of the fact that my roommate was out and spent some time doing things that bring me life.  I turned all the lights off except the desk lamp, pulled up a movie on Netflix, and broke out my watercolors.  Being a college student is a lot of work, and every once in a while, it’s important to take time to do what fills you up.

So, readers.  You now know all about me.  What brings you life?

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Excuse me while I introvert

Something about this week has the introvert side of my personality going absolutely haywire.

Normally, I’d jump at the chance to do something with friends on a Friday night.  I’d kill to hang out after seeing a play on a Saturday.  Nothing would be greater than going out for lunch after church on Sunday.  Normally, the prospective of watching Netflix for hours on end depresses me.  It’s not that I’m an extrovert.  On the contrary.  I’m an introvert to the core.  But too much alone time usually drives me crazy.

This week?

Nope.

When I’m done with class, work, studying, and student org meetings, all I want to do at the end of the day is curl up in my bed with nothing but me, a cup of tea, and Netflix.  Hours pass by and  I’m totally content to sit there doing absolutely nothing with no one but my own thoughts to keep me company.

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Sublimity, films, and Friday nights

Most college students spend their Friday nights relieving the week’s stress by piling into strangers’ crowded houses and drinking themselves silly.

Me?  After a surprise birthday party for my roommate at a local restaurant, I’m spending my Friday night unwinding in the apartment.  The cold wind is howling outside, but I’m stretched out on the couch with a cup of cocoa and  my sketchbook.  My roommates are all out, our Christmas lights are on, and I’ve popped in one of my all time favorite films.

The first time I saw Midnight in Paris, I nearly died of English major perfection.  It’s a film about nostalgia and literature, one that you cannot watch without aching for times gone by and longing to wander the streets of Paris.  The movie takes the deep musings of my soul and puts them into tangible words and images.  It’s absolutely sublime.

What’s your favorite way to spend a Friday night?