|"Walking Alone" by Carlos Gotay|
In my school days I automatically described myself as outgoing because I'm opinionated and have always felt comfortable in leadership roles. These qualities seem to go hand in hand with being an extrovert. But, I've always been a home-body. I'm never bored or lonely when I'm by myself. I'm self-employed. Lately I've joked that if I could be let out to go to thrift shops and good restaurants I could handle becoming a modern day hermit. Steve likes to be out and about, I like to stay in. Yin and yang. Often I feel guilty for not wanting to socialize most nights, choosing rather to stay at home reading or making something (or binge watching Orange is the New Black).
Then I read this illustrated Guide for Understanding Introverts by Schroeder Jones (via Amber Courteau) and a lightbulb went off. A mini-epiphany. It comes down to this: Extroverts gain energy from other people. Introverts have to give energy to other people. Expending this energy is often exhausting and has to be doled out thoughtfully and carefully. Then there needs to be ample alone time to recuperate. This is different from being withdrawn or shy. I hadn't thought about it that way.
But as a creative person I've always felt a bit of a loner. I feel much more comfortable in observation-mode at parties. It's a struggle to get out the door to join a bunch of people somewhere (even though I always end up having a good time). I prefer to email or text versus talking on the phone. I had trouble comprehending why it's tough for some friends to be alone in their own apartments - I love being by myself! Now, I'm slowly realizing that I shouldn't feel bad.
The preference to be by myself is not meant to offend. Rather, it is absolutely necessary to my well being. There I said it. I am an introvert. I'm nearly 30 years old and I've just now realized this about myself. This new label feels a bit foreign but it fits.
Are you or someone you love an introvert? Some reading for you:
Guide for Understanding Introverts by Schroeder Jones (Fast Company)
6 Things You Thought Wrong About Introverts by Caroline Gregoire (Huffington Post)
Caring for your Introvert by Jonathan Rauch (The Atlantic)
The Power of Introverts: A Manifesto for Quiet Brilliance by Gareth Cook (Scientific American)
Susan Cain: The Power of Introverts (TED Talk)