It is my belief that introversion as a personality trait is deeply misunderstood, especially by extroverts. Introversion is not the same as shyness. Introversion does not mean that one doesn’t like to talk to people; many introverts love conversation. We just interact with the world and its energies differently than extroverts. Introverts tend to get their energy from being alone. I personally feel the most alive when I’m in a quiet room reading a book with a cup of hot cocoa in hand and a cat purring at my feet. However, I also enjoy watching movies alone or with a close friend, playing games with a small group of people, or getting coffee at River Rock. I love deep, stimulating conversations with one or two people at a time.
I don’t have the energy (or really the skills) for small talk. I don’t care about superficial things.
The older I get, the more introverted I become, and lately it has made me feel very alone and misunderstood at times.
I love laughing, being a complete weirdo, dancing and singing, but I only feel comfortable enough to express that side of myself with a select few people.
So I usually end up observing the world around myself rather than participating in it. I watch my friends laugh, tell jokes, make weird noises and jump around in public in large groups of people, and I think to myself, “I wish that I was more like them”. “I wish that I felt comfortable enough to loudly express my true personality in public.” And then I retreat deeper into myself because I don’t feel adequate. I feel like a bent puzzle piece that doesn’t quite fit into the puzzle.
When I was younger, I was extroverted, happy and silly until I went through some tough life changes, so now I tend to judge myself harshly for not being “myself” like I used to be. Lately, my silly, sarcastic, and just-plain-absurd self only escapes from me when I’m with those very few people who are closest to me or with people whom I really “click” with.
Introverts tend to be great listeners and great observers. We watch the way that the world and people are existing around us, and then we talk to others when we feel like we have something of importance to contribute to the conversations around ourselves. We don’t feel the need to fill the silence; external silence allows for internal processing. I love silence at times, and I’ve noticed lately that extroverts…do not. Extroverts tend to process by talking and making noise, and this can be exhausting to an introvert.
We need time to ourselves to recharge before being around others again. We also pick up on the energy of others because we spend so much time analyzing it. And we can’t be around poor energy for long before we feel completely drained. I even discovered that people that I absolutely love can drain me.
Sometimes, I do love to party and be crazy, but that mood is usually short-lived because I need to retreat to solitude to do some self-reflection to feel like myself again.
The most frustrating thing about introversion is that many extroverts don’t understand what it’s like to be introverted. They think that we are being difficult, weird or reclusive because we don’t enjoy partying or talking all the time. We’re just as “normal”; we just see the world through a different lens.
We see brilliant color and noise in moments that go unnoticed to many people. We are overflowing with thoughts and feelings, but they feel wasted when we express them in the wrong context. J.K. Rowling is an introvert, and she is one of the most successful people in the world. Harry Potter could not have been conceived without the self-reflection and powerful observation of introversion.
So, fellow introverts, remember that you shine just as brightly as them–you just shine from within.