All right y’all, here’s the thing: I am an introvert.
This is not a shocking statement for me to make. I’ve been an introvert all my life. But here’s the thing…
I have had more than one person in recent weeks tell me that I am not, in fact, an introvert. They don’t believe it. Don’t buy it. Won’t accept it.
But you know what?
Still an introvert.
It’s made me think a lot, though, about introverts and extroverts again. About how society defines people, and how people define themselves. Because I promise you, my ass is introverted.
I think when we think of introverts and extroverts, we think of them in stereotypes: Quiet, shy people are clearly introverted, and loud, boisterous people with lots of friends are extroverted. And sure, this is true to some extent. And, when we judge people this way, I get why some people are convinced I’m an extrovert.
Because here’s the other thing: I’m loud. I’m easily excitable. I sometimes react quickly to things. I’m quick to anger and also (usually) quick to apologize. I can be chatty, and sometimes you can’t shut me up. To an outsider? Yeah, I can look like an extrovert.
But I’m still not. There is nothing more I want to do at the end of a long day than come home, collapse on the couch, and read a book or watch TV. By myself. I don’t want to have to make new conversation, or go out somewhere and see more people. I’ve seen people all day. I’ve enjoyed seeing people all day (mostly. usually.). Now, I am done with people. Leave me alone with my Bravo TV and my dog, and I’ll talk to you tomorrow.
I love people. I do. I love my friends, and my family, and hanging out with these people. But, when I make plans I really, really have to push myself to follow through on them a lot of the time. Because when I make the plans initially I’m all “yay! that will be a fun thing!” Then, the day of the fun thing rolls around and I have to start getting ready to do the fun thing and I’m all “*sigh* why did I think this would be a fun thing? I want to sit in my pajamas and stay on this couch reading all day.” This is in no way a testament to how I feel about said people I’ve made plans with. It’s all about me having to fight against my inclination to be alone, where things are quiet and no one has expectations of me, and I don’t have to be clever.
I’ve for sure gotten better over time. As a kid, I was always super shy, and bad at social situations. I’m still not good at small talk or networking — those things make me feel super uncomfortable, and I never know what to say. I’m great around family or close friends — I’ve always been that loud, silly goofball around them — because they know me, and I trust them.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come out of my shell more. Put myself out there more. I think part of that was necessity — to succeed, you kind of have to put yourself out there. But I also think it was me becoming more comfortable with who I was. Those quirks in my personality? Like them or not, they’re here to stay. At some point, I embraced them, because they are who I am. Those are the quirks that have helped me succeed in life, so far at least. Recognizing them helped me embrace them and become more comfortable with who I am. Which, I guess, makes me more comfortable around other people. Which makes a lot of people, apparently, believe I am an extrovert.
And like, I get it. Today at work? I was bouncing off the walls. I was chatty. I was dancing in my office. I was enthusiastically talking books with a co-worker, probably shrieking far too loudly at the public desk in my excitement. I was laughing, I was loud, I was obnoxious. The last thing I looked like was an introvert. But also….
I know those people. I see them every day. I’m myself around most of them, because they know me, and I can be myself. I don’t mind talking to them, because I see them all the time. A lot of them feel like a second family to me, so of course I’m going to be myself around them. It doesn’t mean I’m never unsure of myself, or don’t go home re-thinking some ridiculous comment I made to someone throughout the day. I’m still unsure of myself plenty of the time.
Ask me to get on the phone and try to call someone I don’t know though….you’ll have a totally different story on your hands.
I remember years ago coming across a post on facebook that talked about introverts and extroverts. It’s vivid to me, because it described introversion and extroversion in a way that I felt really summed me up, despite my outward appearances. It talked about how extroverts feed off interactions with others – it gives them energy, and picks them up. Introverts, on the other hand, can totally handle that social interaction, but it drains them. The only way for them to recharge is to have time alone to decompress, while alone time for extroverts is stressful.
I mean, I guess at the end of the day whether I, or anyone else, is an introvert or an extrovert is beside the point. We just are who we are. And, to some extent, we are how other people see us.
I think recognizing that I’m an introvert at heart has also forced me to push myself more, especially lately. I still need and want and demand my time to decompress, but I also want to experience cool stuff with awesome people in my life. So I try to say “yes” more than “no,” even though I know I’ll have to fight to get my butt up, put real clothes on, and do the fun thing. The book will be there later.
So, now – time for me to put on real clothes and go out to be with people. Which I will love, and then love to come home from 🙂