I found it hard to make sense of why I didn't seem to excel in the same situations as some of the people around me, before I had ever used the words introvert and extrovert.
I figured if I refused to go out somewhere for, what seemed like, no real reason, nobody would understand. When you're 14, 15, 16 and it seems that most others want to "do things" all the time when you don't, saying something like "oh, yeah, no, I'm going to have to decline because I just want to go home and do absolutely nothing" can make you feel sort of funny.
I do not even know why I am especially fond of the words "introvert" and "extrovert" to be honest, because it means that it is black and white; as though a person is either or, when in fact, it is a continuum where you are either more introverted or extroverted.
I also think it generates this sort of box of assumptions that if someone behaves in a way that contradicts the popular idea that "an introvert" or "an extrovert" is, it encourages comments like "you don't act like an introvert because you... xyz" as if there is a checklist of habits that need to be checked off to qualify.
It causes misconception, I just think. But I'll keep using those words in this article for the sake of convenience, but I just wanted to get it out there. So, to better understand myself, I've been trying to find some kind of way to kind of describe what introversion means to me in reality.
I think it can be very valuable to hear about how other people see the world, so, here are some of those things.
Introverts tend to prefer conditions that are less stressful, it's understood. We are, so to speak, stimulus minimalists.
That kind of sounds strange, but it's a simple way to look at it. For instance, I remember we'd have "afterwork," i.e. drinks and socializing, every Friday and sometimes during the week, at one of my last workplaces (which was an office job, cubicles, aka 8 hours of small talk).
When you're introverted and you've been in a highly stressful environment for so many hours, what you really need is your own peace and quiet. Keep in mind that I use the word need, not want, because that's what it really feels like.
And it has little to do with disliking your work or your collogues-just it's that for a lot of introverts, socializing on top of socializing, or putting differently, stimulus on top of stimulation, always equals complete exhaustion.
As I mentioned earlier, when I was younger, for what seemed like no good reason, I thought it was strange to say "no." But as the years have passed, I have found that I am the one who determines for myself what a legitimate reason is. And if that is not known by the people around you, I think you need to take an extra look at who you are surrounding yourself with. Casual mates, casual chat.
I've been able to do it for a while, and I might even enjoy it, maybe, but not for too long, because it makes me feel like I might have spent the energy on something else instead. And yes, that could sound a little snobbish, like, well, introverts think their time is more precious than anyone else's.
It's as easy as the fact that various individuals tend to spend their time in various ways. Someone who is extroverted may consider sitting by himself as "a waste of time" for hours just getting lost in thought, whereas that might be considered useful time for someone who is introverted.
Now, it doesn't mean that "casualty" is not treated by introverts. None of this is really about what someone is and can't do at all, it's just about what's desired and what makes you feel comfortable.
I might technically cope with having dinner with a group of 15 people, but I would still feel rather lost and even lonely unless I felt a bond with somebody there. It's the kind of situation of "feeling lonelier in a room full of individuals than I do alone."
But I can communicate with someone, on the other hand, and there's probably nothing more rewarding than the feeling of being able to speak to someone for hours and just feel the bond. Or sometimes, very little talk or not at all, and still, it just clicks.
I mean, they might be put off a little because I'm going to try to talk about their upbringing and set up a 5-step program to fix all their issues, but that's actually more of an INFJ thing than an introvert thing.
This is perhaps the most important thing about myself that I've come to appreciate. As human beings, I think it is important to find outlets to express ourselves. It is through self-expression that we get to share our feelings and thoughts about the world and everything that is therein.
We learn about ourselves as we express ourselves, which then helps us move through life, to make better choices for ourselves and to gain clarity. And there are so many different ways of speech, art, dance, and the obvious one is talking.
Now, while there is comfort in identifying with those labels, such as introvert and extrovert, I think it's important to note that it can be used as a means to lift us and not limit us, which is probably one of the most important things I've learned and I'm trying to remember.
It is comforting to learn about yourself and to find out that you belong to a certain group of people (be it introversion or a form of personality or anything like that), no doubt, it makes you feel like you somehow belong.
But I don't think we can identify with anything so closely that we don't even bother looking outside of it for anything; a kind of fixed mentality that makes us less likely to venture out of our comfort zone, something that I think is really important for development.
For example, if you value deep relationships but hate small talk and therefore avoid attempting to get to know individuals in general, you will miss out on those potential relationships, since small talk is typically how most conversations begin.
What I'm trying to suggest is, because you don't want to be uncomfortable, I don't think it's a good idea to miss out on existence. I also don't think that we can associate with anything so closely that we feel that we need to stick to some standards of what that mark means. Like, in order to consider yourself an introvert, you don't need to love books and hate parties.
There were times in my life when I loved going out every day, and when I got to meet a lot of new people. There were days when I loved to sit all day long, and I didn't talk to anyone but my plants.
Does my nature affect that? Not of course. It just means I'm a human being, not a one-sided thing, and you're not either.
I’m glad that you are here, thank you for reading my little article.