Sometimes I just want to curl up under my shell and hide. My slightly inhibited ways could be because I’m a Cancerian, in which, like the crab, we like to protect our soft insides with a tough outer exterior. But it’s mainly because I’m an introvert (an INFJ to be exact). I have a natural tendency to prefer my own internal world of thoughts and feelings than wanting to be around a group of people.
I’ll never be the loudest in the room, or the one grabbing for attention, or the last one standing at a party when most people have gone. In a culture where being social and outgoing is prized, introverts, like me, can just feel a little deficient.
That’s not to say, however, I’m anti-social or that I don’t like group activities (I truly admire my extroverted friends and colleagues who don’t have to think twice about going to a party or a spare-of-the-moment invite) but for us introverted folk, we find a lot of social stimulation, well, kind of exhausting.
It’s just how we’re wired.
We crave meaningful interaction over small talk, and we feel the need to regularly recharge our batteries after our energy has been expended outwards instead of the other way round. Picture a kid that gets super excited after drinking cordial, hyper alert and buzzy, but then dips into an energy slump afterwards. Totally depleted.
But I realise that being more of the quiet and reserved type can mean introverts are often misunderstood. For instance, we may come across as shy, but many of us are actually not.
I came across this BuzzFeed piece that is humorously spot-on in explaining 27 dilemmas only introverts can understand, my top three being:
1. When you hear, “Are you OK?” or “Why are you so quiet” for the umpteenth time, which is quite frustrating because we’d rather listen or speak up when there is something important or worth saying than just blurt out what’s on our minds.
2. The need to not talk to anyone for a while. You need to be completely alone so you can recharge, even if it means a whole weekend to yourself.
3. When people make you feel weird for wanting to do things, you guessed it, by yourself.
I’m relieved to know there are a many people who feel the same way. According to Susan Cain, the author of Quiet who has done an amazing TED talk on introversion, one in three people are introverted.
Fellow introvert (more ambivert) blogger and journo Sarah Wilson has touched on the subject a few times; her most recent post titled, ‘Why introverts just can’t handle you sometimes’ resonated so strongly she could be writing about me.
Key takeaway quote: “I’d go as far as saying that I can sometimes find extroverts – not show-offs and bombastic arm-wavers necessarily, but those who draw their energy from other humans – to be energy vampires. These people are positive, kind, abundant and generous (far more so than me). This, as I discussed with fellow introverts this past week or so, is what makes the whole issue so difficult and upsetting. I’ve really struggled to figure out why I become so exhausted in these lovely people’s company, why I become impatient and, in fact, avoid them. I feel like a bitch. It confounds me. It kills me.”
Can you relate?
In reality, introverts are happy, social people with a small circle of friends whom they trust. Sure, we like to plan, think things through before speaking, and are most likely to prefer a night in with a good book than hitting the town, but that doesn’t mean we want to stay locked away. Perhaps the most important thing to know about us, is that while we may be quiet, and may never get bored with solitude, our minds are as loud and as colourful as the world we live in.
Till next time,