About being an Introvert
So, i’m not gonna list all the pros and cons about being an introvert (you can google it if you want). I’m also not gonna give an inspiring acceptance speech for all introverts out there (you can also google it). This is definitely not a guide about surviving the world as an introvert (there is no such thing as a useful guide to surviving this world, period). But hopefully you’ll understand a thing or two about introverts, or feel somewhat identified with, or repelled, or whatever.
My name is Pamela and I’m an introvert (this is the part where you respond “hello, Pamela..” in that low key typical A.A. meeting-like tone).
Like alcoholism, embracing being an introvert first comes with acceptance. It takes time to come to peace with who you really are. Comprehending there’s nothing wrong with realising that too many social interactions just drains you out a little bit. It also takes time to notice that in order to refill all that lost energy, you need to set yourself apart for awhile. And the part that takes most time, is understanding this trait is far from being a problem, or a flaw. It’s just a big, wonderful and important part of who you are.
Don’t take me wrong, I adore my family and close friends, I enjoy making plans and spending quality time with them, and also find it completely fulfilling. I also feel comfortable talking to great amounts of people and networking, I don’t mind at all. Or how about karaoking in front of friends or strangers? Bring it on. Being an introvert doesn’t mean I’m shy. I can also be extremely outgoing after I’ve “refilled” enough. I can be loud, social, outgoing, expressive when I feel like it (yes, without alcohol involved…). Being an introvert has nothing to do with being shy, or being outgoing, or having lack of confidence, or feeling socially awkward.
It kind of works out like this. Embracing thoughts, books, music, art, long walks, and feeling completely comfortable and most at home during these moments by myself. I also like to observe and listen as much as I can without interacting with any of it, just taking it all in. It’s just plain necessary.
Without recharging this way enough, I start feeling exhausted and completely annoyed with pretty much anything. I will find myself constantly speaking inside my head but with no energy left to open my mouth and speak. Seeming tired, or dumb, or indifferent, or pissed, or even arrogant.
Engaging in conversations also works out somewhat differently. When I have nothing to say, I simply don’t say anything. I don’t struggle to find words, or make something up just to fill in a conversation about something I don’t know or care much about. Or maybe just repeat out loud what others have already said to prove I contributed to the conversation somehow. I can actually enjoy a conversation without saying a word. Sounds weird, huh? I’m the ultimate specialist in zoning out in a middle of a conversation or around a bunch of people. I simply sometimes don’t have enough energy to keep up.
Needing to get away to refill is hard for people around you. Family and friends find it hard to realise that their constant presence will empty you on a daily basis, and they’ll strongly believe and try to convince you there is a problem with the way you’re wired. If you’re lucky, eventually they’ll understand and even make fun of it with you.
The funny part of all of this is that I work with people, it’s like the most basic and important part of my job. My main task at work is to deal with others: clients and coworkers. I really don’t do much other than that. So some people around me find it hard to believe I actually am an introvert.
And how about raising an extremely energized extrovert? Oh, so challenging but wouldn’t change it for anything. I guess having an extrovert son made me realise how much of an introvert I am. And helped me learn how necessary it is to give myself some space when starting to feel overwhelmed.
I used to think that in order to be successful in life or in general, I would need to stop being an introvert and develop some extrovert’s skills. Thankfully, I proved myself wrong. I consider myself a kind, warm, friendly and family-oriented person. And these can also be introvert’s traits. It has nothing to do with one another.
I honestly don’t believe that in order to accept and embrace your introverted little self you will need to find some kind of support, or reach out, or make a big deal out of it, or reading dumb posts like this one about what being an introvert is like for someone else. Eventually, you’ll grab a book and a glass of wine, or go by yourself for a long walk with nothing but your thoughts and start repeating these activities enough times that you’ll stop feeling guilty about how much you enjoy them.