So, here’s the deal: I love being by myself. It is some of the most relaxing times of the day that I have, content with my many thoughts, self-reflection, and simply enjoying scenery that others may take for granted. The sun in its many stages of the day is something that I can sit and be amazed with for hours, but there aren’t many that share my penchant for solar gazing. It gets difficult trying to explain some of my quirks and different tastes with others, because most of them stare at me weirdly, and others simply nod, smile, and back away slowly. After a while, it gets tiresome dealing with others so different from you, so eventually, you withdraw and spend time alone. But it isn’t as bad as it sounds, because some of us introverts actually cherish our alone time. Nevertheless, friends and family not aware of introverts tend to characterize us as antisocial, depressed, miserable, or just shy. And while that may be true in some cases, the majority of us are happy, at peace with the lack of social noise and pointless chatter. Here are some things that many misapply to introverted people:
1. Introverts are antisocial. Look, it’s not that we are antisocial; we just don’t enjoy being around a lot of people, not people in general. The talking, the chatter, and the superficial rapport with individuals we don’t know and don’t want to know can get tiresome after a while, especially if the topic is something that is of no interest to us. Often, I find myself letting out a phony chuckle or uttering vague sentiments to seem as though I am actively engaged in the situation, when the truth is I am looking for the first moment to tilt my body towards the door and make a straight shoot for the exit out of that social torture. I, as an introvert, love socially interacting, but loathe networking, especially when it is not genuine.
2. Introverts are simply shy and need to break out of their shell. You know, it gets really old hearing that, especially since most of us are not shy and prefer being alone. My sister has a really bad habit of introducing me to her friends (most of whom I do not like) and including how I’m shy in each preface. Granted, I can understand why she continues to do this, because I have not corrected her, as confrontation is not my strongest suit. But still, there is nothing that grates my nerves more than people looking at my lack of words as some kind of perceived intimidation of interaction on my part. My grandmother continuously tells me that I need to “break out of my shell”. After a while, I began to think I was a weird person because I dealt with social situations differently. Now, I just realize that it is who I am, and it has not been detrimental to my life as of yet, so if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
3. Introverts are lazy and lack social skills. Maybe some of us are lazy and do lack social skills, but a lot of us are also very active and know how to deal with individuals from all walks of life. One of my biggest problems is staying consistent with actively engaging people. Working the will to openly and freely converse is one thing, but keeping up with it is another. Usually, it doesn’t take long for me to get exhausted with turning up the charm, so I try to keep the conversations as short as possible, giving the most important details in the first few minutes. Of course, if the other individual wants to make small talk, it involves mustering up enough will to smile and bear with it. Once it’s over, there is such a huge relief and sense of accomplishment, but man, can it be tiresome. There are those of us that do forgo the daunting task of conversations and avoid interacting altogether, but those are more extreme versions of being introverted and may have a deeper implication. Sorry, but I’m only covering the surface and using my own experiences.
4. Introverts are miserable people. My friends have always said that I have mood swings when hang around them. One minute I am happy and then the next, out comes the sourpuss that wants to go home. This has rubbed some of them the wrong way, but I have been fortunate enough to have a core group that understand my personality, even if they don’t know exactly what an introvert is. The thing is, most introverts, myself included, need that alone time not only to reflect, but to recharge. We are not naturally sociable, so even the smallest thing like being around people or socializing for extended periods of time can wear us down. In my own experience, I have a good two to three hours top before I need quiet. And if I don’t get that peace, things can get really ugly. I don’t erupt in fits of anger, but things begin irritating me slowly but surely until I have sneak out of the party or gathering and sit outside in the cold night, soothed by the sound of traffic in the distance and silence. Then the obligatory person steps out, asks if I am all right and then stumbles back into the house. If you say it with a smile and enough reassurance, they’ll leave you alone and you won’t have to worry about this sequence repeating itself every 30 seconds.
5. How do introverts maintain relationships? Quite easily, actually. I tend to find that with most introverts, we are attracted to extroverts as they tend to bring out a side of us that we normally would not bring out by ourselves. For me, it was just that doing something that I wouldn’t normally do was easy and a lot of fun when it was with someone I genuinely cared for and loved. Now, keep in mind, sometimes it is not easy trying to maintain relationships, whether it is family, friends or a love life, especially if they are extroverts and you are not. I get asked constantly if I want to participate in this event or that event, if I want to go to this game or that game, or if I want to just hang out and relax at someone else’s place. If you’re like me, it is like getting a phone call that you’ve been diagnosed with stage 2 pancreatic cancer; it is just so nerve wrecking and you are dreading each moment of the experience. I’ve politely declined some of these requests, but make an active effort to not refuse them each time. This is good because eventually, your friends and family will stop asking you, and on those rare occasions you actually do want to be social, there is no one around. I’ve especially had to “break out of my shell” when it came to dating, but once we were comfortable, the introvert would slide out little by little. You don’t want to spring your crazies on a potential love match in the first sitting.
The fact of the matter is many of us in the world are introverts in some form or another. We all crave for that social longing, and to feel loved and be loved by one another. But there are those of us that get the same enjoyment out of watching a sunset alone as a couple sharing a romantic meal at a tropical paradise or a group of college friends piling up in a beat up El Camino and driving cross country and seeing America. We enjoy different things and we enjoy them by ourselves. That doesn’t make us weird, it doesn’t make us antisocial and it doesn’t make us hermits who only love the company of cats or imaginary friends. I am an introvert, plain and simple. Family and friends will always be there and I cherish the times and memories I have built with them, but there are three people whose company I simply prefer a little more: Me, Myself and I.