Wednesday, June 6, 2012

On being an introvert

I started this post a long time ago. Before I really knew what blogging is. Yeah, we share what we know and our experiences, but it's so much more than I thought it would be. It's a discussion, not a lecture. So I've tried to tweak it. But this is my experience, and I'd like to share it with you. :)

I am by nature an introvert. 

I like books + blankets + hot chocolate more than I like clubs + lights + booze.

I get overwhelmed by crowds of people I don't know.

I don't initiate and am sometimes uncomfortable during small talk

and I prefer small groups of friends to parties where I only know a handful of people.

I've written before that I struggle with comparing myself to others. One of the ways this manifests is that I am convinced all of my friends are more exciting than I am. This sounds like a small thing, but it changes the way I think about myself.

Because of this belief I've felt obligated to go out when all I wanted to do was stay home and watch a movie. I've spent a few nights resentful of my friends or myself for not speaking up and being brave enough to express what I wanted. I wanted my friends to like me, not get frustrated with me never wanting to go out.

I've allowed how I imagine people feel about me (boring, vanilla, etc.) to create animosity in the way I feel about them.

I'm not shy. Or at least, not usually. I love public speaking (in fact, I've been in several plays, spoke at my high school graduation and also gave an hour-long presentation that year!) and I love getting to know new people.

But I am an introvert.

A recent issue of TIME Magazine had several articles on introversion vs. extroversion and vs. shyness.

Before this issue, I struggled a lot with my introversion. I actually didn't even have a name for the source of discomfort I had in the situations listed above. TIME actually helped me understand a lot about myself. They talk about how introverts have been some of the most powerful leaders and how we're uniquely suited to be leaders.

I'm trying to understand myself better, and to believe that my introversion isn't (always) a bad thing.

Some of the benefits I've found of being an introvert?

As a writer, it's not a bad thing to be an introvert. I can notice more sometimes about how people are feeling/projecting/reacting. It also doesn't bother me to stay home and read or write all weekend.

When I was a resident assistant, I think it gave me a better understanding of a lot of the girls on my floors. Freshman dorms can get really cliquey, and there's always those on the outside. Since I was on the outside my freshman year, I looked out for my fellow introverts. Or tried to.

Since starting this post, I've also come across this video about introversion, which I love, and this list of the top ten myths about introverts. They're so interesting to me!

Any of this sound familiar? Maybe you're an introvert too! TIME also posted a quiz to help you figure out where on the introvert-extrovert spectrum you might lie.

I'm working on loving who I am. I feel like learning about myself--and learning the good things about the parts of me I haven't always liked--is a big part of that.

Have any of you learned anything about yourself recently, or learned to love something you once didn't?


Amy said...

Super proud of you for being honest and courageous enough to post this!
I'm borderline introvert extrovert. In high school i was completely extrovert. I LOVED being a part of everything and hanging out with people all of the time.
Now i'm borderline and really REALLY enjoy my 'me' time hah.

Laura said...

I can really relate to a lot of the things you said in this post. The picture you posted of the note made me smile because I was in a situation like that just last week where I saw an acquaintance from high school at a restaurant. I forced myself to go and say hello because I didn't want her to do it first. And you know what, it wasn't bad at all!

Alyx said...

I never really thought of myself as an introvert because I don't mind meeting new people or being in crowds of people or going out on a weekend, but I'm definitely not the most comfortable person if I'm out somewhere and don't know anyone - I tend to just retreat into myself because I don't want to go approach others. Is there an in-betweenovert?

riana. said...

I just took this test and found out a lot of things about myself that are true... Maybe you'd like to take it too.

Kate said...

This is SO me.

I absolutely hate making small talk. I hate it. If I see people I know in public? I try to hide. I almost never answer my cell phone unless I have something specific to say. And I don't like the idea of going out to clubs. I just can't see the fun in that when I could be at a coffee shop reading.

Wow. How old am I? :P

Leslie said...

This post is me to the tee. I am introverted too.. and I definitely prefer small groups over big ones where I don't know people. I despise small talk, I feel like I'm terrible at it. I need to check out this TIME article! But lately I've tried to work on being better with meeting people and working on conversations with people I don't know. I think we discount ourselves for things that we're actually good at... great post!! I'm checking out those links now :)

Katie said...

This is SUCH a great post!! I'm introverted too, but for years I mistook it as shy. That's not true-- I like new people, and I like talking to people. But I also love my own peace and quiet. I've finally trained my friends to know that I have to have some of my own time on the weekend-- I'm not going to hang out with them every day. Thanks for posting this!! :)

Jessica said...

I loved this post! I am an introvert to the core, and I feel like so many people just don't "get" me. Thanks so much for sharing this, because it makes me feel like I'm not alone in this.

Alyssa said...

We must literally be the same person. The whole part about feeling like your friends are so much happier and more popular because they go out, I feel that every day.

Seriously-soul sisters. I'm with ya.

Tamara said...

Way to put this all out there Abbey! I used to be an in-your-face, let's do this, party type of girl. In high school, I was actually Most School Spirit and Funniest. I just liked being around people. But now, the older I get - I enjoy my me time, I'd rather just chill at the house with a couple close friends than out at a bar acting a fool {and oh, can I act a fool!}. I always just looked at it as I was growing up maybe, so the same things don't appeal to me as they did when I was younger..but after reading this - I think I may be a closet introvert! And..I kind of like it that way.
And for the record, I'm so enjoying our email conversations lately - I never would have thought you to think you're vanilla. You seem pretty flavorful to me :)


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