Sunday, October 6, 2013

yes, i am an introvert. and yes, it's okay.

Preface: I am in no way depressed, shy, or antisocial. I like to be around people and talk with them. There is nothing wrong with being introverted.

After reading 23 Signs You're Secretly an Introvert, awhile back, I was able to confirm what I've always known: I'm an introvert. In this day and age, I think you're looked down upon if you're not outgoing all the time. There's a stigma attached to the word "introvert." Society views introverts as sad, depressed, antisocial, stuck up, shy, nerdy, lazy, and abnormal. That is NOT the case. Being introverted merely means that you can find yourself being overstimulated when constantly surrounded by a ton of people, and you might need some alone time to rest and recharge. Well I'm going to discuss a few of the things that make me an introvert, and WHY there is nothing wrong with being that way.

I hate small talk.
If I run into someone I haven't seen in awhile, I wince at the though of small talking with them. It feels incredibly fake, and to be completely honest, I'm not even paying attention to what the other person is saying to me, because I'm too busy thinking of the next polite question to ask them.

Case in point: Over the summer, I ran into an old high school aquaintance at the grocery store. She called my name and came rushing over, carrying her baby with her. Now, this girl and I weren't even close in high school, so my mind went into panic mode. What on Earth do I talk to her about?! "Wow...what a cute baby!" I said. Then I started wondering if it was a boy or a girl, because it was wearing gender neutral clothing. So I started thinking of polite ways to word, "What's ITS name?" And all the while, this girl had already told me the name, and had likely dropped a thousand pronouns to give me a clue to the baby's gender. I still to this day don't know whether it was a boy or girl.

I don't avoid small talk because I dislike people. Quite the opposite, I enjoy people...I chose a field of work in which I deal with people (students, parents, colleagues) all day every day. But to me, small talk just doesn't feel genuine. It's too much work. I'd rather get to the heart of the reason that we're meeting up to talk.

I need an adequate amount of "downtime."
No, I'm not lazy. But I also don't feel unproductive if I spend a lazy Sunday reading and doing laundry. I need time to recharge my batteries. I'm not the kind of person who can be on the go 24/7. Now my husband, who is a definite extrovert, feels antsy or guilty when he has a lazy afternoon, but I feel it's needed every once in awhile. Does that mean I sit on the couch in my pajamas from sun up until sundown? No...but I don't feel guilty that I went to church, called my sister-in-law to set up a visit next weekend, popped in a load of laundry, and spent a couple hours on the couch today.

I avoid sitting in the middle of an aisle or booth.
I think a lot of this goes back to my anxiety issues, but I get incredibly antsy if I sit in the middle of a crowd. I don't like being surrounded on all sides by people, unless I know them all. I need to feel like I have a quick and easy escape if the need arises. The need has never actually presented itself before (except in the form of panic attacks a few years back) but it's always comforting to know I can get up without attracting a ton of attention to myself if need be. So in the future, please let me have the aisle seat. Thank you.

I reflect on every aspect of my life.
My husband can fall asleep as soon as his head hits the pillow. I on the other hand, will lay awake long into the night running an inner monologue of reflections from the day. How the boots didn't really match the dress I wore, and next time I should wear those cute little flats instead. About the chapters of the book I read that night, and how much I enjoyed them. How the lesson I taught on Main Ideas totally flopped, and what I should do to change it for next time. How I should have handled a situation differently with a parent of a student. That I'm proud of myself for not having a snack before bedtime. Rerunning a conversation I had with another teacher at work during lunch. That I need to remember to tell Ty how much I appreciate him tomorrow. All of these things (and more!) run through my head when I get in bed. For that reason, I must have the tv on for at least 30 minutes while I lay there with my eyes closed, trying to let it distract me from being awake all night. It doesn't mean that I'm an insomniac or that I'm not satisfied with my means that I care enough to think back on all that happened that day and reflect on it. I think it helps me grow as an individual.

I married an extrovert.
Clearly, opposites attract. Ty could be on the go all day every day, and he often is. He is energized by social interactions, and the more he has, the longer he can go. I however, need that down time to re-energize me. But I think the fact that I married an extrovert keeps me from spending too much time alone. And likewise, him marrying an introvert keeps him from being on the go all the time. We balance each other out, and I like that.

So there you go. Being an introvert is not the bad thing that society makes it out to be. Ask the experts: being shy or antisocial, is completely different from being an introvert. There's nothing wrong with me turning my phone on silent during my drive home from work because I need some quiet time on my 20 minute drive home. It just means that I need to reboot my system, and I'll be ready to greet my hubby with a smile and a story about my day when I walk in the door.

xoxo, wife.

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