On being an introvert.

And yes, I still like hanging out with you.

I took a Myers-Briggs personality test and was labeled as an INFJ — “I” for Introverted. This wasn’t a surprise to me, but it’s something that can often be misunderstood by others. Here’s how the report defined introversion:

You focus on the inner world and get energy through reflecting on information, ideas, and/or concepts.

Some people picture introverts as people who stay at home alone with their cats all day. Believe me — I love doing that. I’ve often been described as reserved and quiet, and I’m well aware that my introverted qualities are ever-present. But on the flip side, I’m also someone you can find dancing at the club at 3AM, or signing up for a sports league with 80 strangers, or singing my heart out at an open mic. This is where the definitions get cloudy.

To account for the overlap, I refer to myself as what the internet might call an “outgoing introvert”. Although my introversion can be highly prominent at times, it’s not static. Here’s what I mean:

My energy depends on the environment. If I’m with people I enjoy, doing something enjoyable, chances are that I will have a great time. Chances are even greater that I will temporarily evolve into someone you would never label as introverted. I will stay out until 5am with you if the vibe is right. I’m not anti-social, but selectively social.

But sometimes I need to escape. I’ve found myself at unfamiliar parties and places, with unfamiliar people that I really don’t want to talk to. I’ve found myself looking for the fastest way to get the hell out of there, usually with the worst excuses, or none at all.

I need recovery time. Alone time is a sacred, beautiful, magical, wonderful thing, and will forever be one of my favourite times. I’ve turned down multiple invites for the sole reason that I need to be alone and organize my thoughts. If my mind has been going on full social speed for too long, all thoughts will start to overlap and cause panic and distress. My social batteries can only last so long. This is in addition to the fact that I simply love doing things independently.

I will think rather than speak. If you want to get my opinion on the sandwich I’m eating, or the restaurant we’re at, chances are you will need to ask. Like everyone else, I think a lot of thoughts, but the majority of them remain in my own mind. I won’t usually share news unless prompted to — which can sometimes frustrate others. But I’m simply conditioned to keeping to myself.

I really like talking to you. I love hearing what you are passionate about, and what your opinions are on things like the future and the past and the meaning of everything and the bigger picture. I love sharing my opinions on the deeper subjects and hearing yours in return. That gives me so much life. However, if the small talk goes on for too long, I’m going to lose interest.

The fact that I have strong introverted qualities doesn’t mean that I hate all humans. In fact if I really like you, I’ll probably latch on too hard, because finding someone that I truly connect with isn’t a daily occurrence. With that said, I’m still looking forward to the day when I have five cats of my own.