You know the feeling. You spend much of your life thinking something’s wrong. You’re alone a lot, usually with your nose in a book or daydreaming. But then someone puts a label on it and everything falls into place. You’re an introvert. You’re wired differently. And even better, you realize this trait comes with some great benefits…
You like your own company – Ever notice how after a meeting, people like to linger and talk in small groups? I never got that. Even if the gathering went well — even if a great time was had by all –I can’t get out fast enough.
That’s when you know you’re an introvert. It has nothing to do with the other people. They’re usually smart, interesting and nice. You just want to get back on your own turf. When younger, I thought something was wrong. Now I realize it’s a gift to like your own company.
You protect yourself — I know outgoing humans who thrive on days filled with schmoozing, meetings, and people, people, people! They love talking, persuading, and discussing. Politicians and salespeople come to mind.
That life would exhaust me. And I used to think I needed to keep up with more extroverted friends and relatives. Yet I’ve learned to be gentle with myself, to do what feels right. I’ve learned to balance the need for people with the need for solitude.
You like to think – And this means pondering everything – from world politics to what kind of dark chocolate has better flavor to who has the worst plastic surgery on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
My biggest fear is not having time to organize my thoughts, like when I have to introduce myself in a formal group. I fumble for words. I over-think it. My heart beats fast. I envy people who effortlessly talk off the cuff. Instead, I need time to process. Even better, I need to see my thoughts on paper. Maybe that’s why so many writers are introverts.
You love public libraries – I do much of my writing in libraries, which to introverts are shrines, temples to wisdom, ideas and inspiration.
Libraries are the best of all places, hushed but full of people — quiet people. You can be in your own head but still feel like you’re getting social contact. They’re also great places to observe – retirees, young mothers, teenagers, couples, and businessmen. Introverts love nothing more than hanging back and taking it in.
You need people… just not all the time — This goes for everyone, even your family and best friends.
I’m travelling with my mother this spring. The first thing we said when booking hotels was we needed separate rooms. She’s also an introvert. We get that about each other. It has nothing to do with if you love someone or how close you are. Introverts need privacy, our own sacred space to be ourselves.
You’re sensitive – I realized this as a 6th grader. One day mean females were teasing a heavy girl sitting near me on the school bus. She put on a brave front, but I could tell was ready to cry.
I noticed she was wearing a new outfit. I wondered if she had put on that red skirt with hopes of a good day, maybe even making friends. Now I heard kids whispering ‘fat’ and ‘ugly.’ I wanted to tell them to stop, but lacked the courage. Meanwhile, the rest of the bus paid no attention.
Since then, I’ve felt this way many times. There’s too much violence, cruelty and indifference in this world. And like the bus, I feel affected by it. Many times I’ve reminded myself its the sensitive and brave who make the best changes. I have the first part down. I’m working on the second.
You’re cautious – My late father could run and dive into any body of water, no matter how cold or intimidating. I always admired him for that. Me? I’d creep bit by bit into lakes others could jump into within minutes.
And this is how introverts take life. We go slow, inch-by-inch, whether new experiences, people, or places. Yet there’s a benefit. When you go slower, you notice things — that shy smile, a cat bathing in the sun, the way the clouds form patterns above.
In the end, it’s different, but it’s also nice.
I’ve come to terms with never having the social stamina of a politician or salesperson. I don’t know how they go through their days, always being on, having such little private time.
I guess we all have to accept who we are.
And I wouldn’t swap my life of reading, daydreaming and pondering for anything. Being an introvert is cool.
Are you an introvert? How do you know? Comments are always welcome and if you like, please share. Thank you.