What’s It Like To Be An Introvert?
I have wondered if people really do understand what it means to be an introvert. Many times I find myself trying to explain why I don’t want to go out with employees after work or why I need some quiet time at a family party. Sometimes I feel like people think of “introverts” the same way they think about “anxiety.” “Yeah,” they would say, “I have anxiety, too. I get nervous sometimes.” Sure, we all get nervous. But my anxiety is not just nervousness, it’s a combination of physical and mental actions and reactions happening simultaneously and pulling me in different directions all in a single moment. Similarly, I get the same reaction when I say, “I’m an introvert.” “Yeah,” they would say, “I’m an introvert too. Sometimes I want to be alone.” And maybe those people are introverts, I’m not here to deny that from anyone. But I do wonder if people truly understand what it means to be an introvert, and how it feels.
In my opinion, being an introvert doesn’t just mean that I want to be alone. I think it means that I NEED alone time – often. It means that I can appear shy in social situations because I feel like I’m faking it. It means that I’m often in my head, constantly thinking about thousands of things, and its often hard to turn off. It means that I hate being the center of attention. In social situations I want nothing more than to melt into the wall in order to avoid recognition by others. This also shows in my discomfort receiving compliments. I am THE WORST at receiving a compliment. I don’t know what to say because I’m so uncomfortable with the attention. Being an introvert means that many times, I need to write down what I want to say because writing is a lot easier to communicate. I especially did this when I was younger in school – I would write down the answer I wanted to give the teacher, then I would raise my hand and read what I wrote. Anyway, my point is that there are so many feelings and attributes that encompass what it means to be an introvert.
I came across an article in Psychology Today about being an introvert and I could definitely relate to some of the feelings expressed. This article talked about the difficulty in accepting help from others as an introvert. It was focused around an individual with an illness, which is something I cannot relate to, however, I can absolutely relate to how difficult it is to accept help from others. Accepting help from others means that I will have to be spending time with another person, or at the very least, participating in a virtual conversation (maybe over the phone or texting), and I have no idea how long it will take. Interacting with another person, whether in-person or virtually can become exhausting. I kind of think of myself as a grown adult baby – just in the sense that, I get extremely stressed when overstimulated. Think about a party, where a baby is being passed around and held by different adults, and maybe there’s many more noises in the environment than the baby is used to hearing – that baby might become overstimulated. They might end up crying or sleeping very well that night from “exhaustion.” I can relate. Spending time with people is exhausting. No offense.
However, I do think its important to accept help even on my most introverted-of-days. Firstly, it’s not like I have a sign on my forehead that states I’m an introvert. Unless you are my closest family and friends, you wouldn’t necessarily know that about me. Therefore, many people are always offering their help or asking a lot of questions just to get to know me. And I can’t expect them to leave me alone “just because I’m an introvert.” People offer help and ask questions because they care. And I cannot fault someone for caring about me. Secondly, being an introvert does mean that social situations make me uncomfortable, but it’s important for me to challenge myself, even when things feel uncomfortable. There are many times where I do need to take some time to myself, but there are equally as many times that I push through the discomfort of being in a group of people. Maybe, little by little, social situations will become less uncomfortable. I don’t think my “introvertedness” will ever go away, as it’s a part of my personality. But I certainly don’t have to allow it to dictate my life and the events I choose to participate in.