If you’re even remotely familiar with my blog, this probably isn’t news to you. But I’m not talking about my way of thinking or writing style (though I’m sure those could be side effects of today’s topic). I’ll be focusing on just one of the many confusing components of my personality: my introversion.
In a former post when I introduced introversion, I gave a brief description of the concept. But if you don’t feel like poring over all my writing just to find this meager explanation or reading this in-depth exploration of introverted thinking, I will provide another brief description. In short, introverts are the types of individuals who need to spend time alone to gain energy. No matter how outgoing or shy they seem, all introverts require alone time to recharge; peopling–I mean, socializing–takes a lot of effort. Even when you enjoy it.
I recently came across a skydiving metaphor to explain introverts and socializing, which I thought was an effective comparison.
Consider skydiving. If you were to agree to go skydiving, you’d have to plan the experience (time, place, etc.), you’d have to be at least somewhat willing, and would likely have to become excited and channel your energy into following through with your plan beforehand. That’s what it’s like for an introvert to prepare for social outings–ideally. However, most social interactions (like in college) feel like the equivalent of being pushed out of the plane before feeling fully ready and willing to dive through the sky. Talk about a rude awakening…
I cannot confirm all introverts feel this way about socializing (especially the outgoing introverts), but exchanging social outings with skydiving seems like a pretty sufficient comparison to me. But here’s where I don’t make sense (at least in my mind).
I’m what I’d call a very introverted introvert. I need a lot of alone time, days even, to recharge from socializing. In college that’s not really possible. I have classes, work, clubs, roommates (whom I love, but still…), so I’m surrounded by people. All. The. Time. And it’s exhausting. Honestly, I’m amazed I’ve survived through college thus far. Because I’m around others more than I’d like, I’m not always the most social–enough, I’m sure I emit a bit of a loner vibe to my fellow students. I spend a lot of time by myself even when around people. I don’t talk a lot. But when I do talk to others it’s like some kind of switch has flipped.
I’ve been told by many I’m fun to talk with, laugh with, that I’m a very personable individual. (Granted, I work in communication and journalism fields so I kind of need to be if I want others to do what I ask so I can do my job efficiently–that doesn’t sound manipulative at all…) Yet, most don’t discover this about me, as more often than not, I’m in total introvert mode and thus don’t talk much–at least not simply for the sake of talking. Thus loner/quiet girl reputation which is perfectly fine with me!
Socializing is such a necessity in the U.S. We’re very social and it seems if you’re anything but, something is “wrong” with you. Not literally, of course, but American standards definitely cater to extroverted individuals (have I not referenced college enough in this post, yet?). The problem is passable socializing (what I call small talk) doesn’t benefit us much. Aside from portraying yourself as a pleasant, polite individual small talk does little in terms of advancing your social life. Strong friendships are not to be had from discussing only mundane subjects like the weather or your job–unless you’re able to delve into the gritty details of those, then maybe… In-depth conversations, however, can play a much more effective role. I want to hear about your thoughts on the origins of the world, your life experiences, your response to scenario x and reasons for such. Do you know how often people offer up that sort of information in initial conversations? Yeah, thought so…
But that’s okay! Because, honestly, learning so much about others increases the attachment I feel toward them which means creating and maintaining friendships, and, as an introvert, staying in touch with more than a handful of people is exhausting. Thus, few (but close!) friends. In college, because of the constant socialization, I tried to exceed my ideal friend limit, which ultimately failed because introversion. Just last week, a friend whom I haven’t seen in weeks asked to hang out for that very reason. And I turned them down. Without hesitation. Because I’m an introvert and make no sense and did not at that time feel tempted to actively maintain that friendship via in-person socialization. Yet, just a few weeks earlier I had been wishing more of my friends would reach out. See what I mean about not making sense? Introverts are complicated. And needy. But AWESOME. As are extroverts too, I’m sure. I just don’t know that lifestyle…
You know what else I don’t know? If this post made any sense to anyone, so just in case I’ve summed up the gist of my writing here (in list form!):
- Introverts are vary in type, but all need alone time to gain energy and to prepare for social interaction
- The U.S. caters to extroverts primarily which challenges introverts’ ability to thrive
- I’m a confusing person
And that’s really all you need to know. But if things are still unclear, well, at least confusion aligns well with this week’s theme. So there’s that.
Happy day, introverts/extroverts/everyone!