Thoughts from an Introvert

“Telling an introvert to go to a party is like telling a saint to go to Hell.”

–  Criss Jami

Well, I vowed to do at least one post per month this school year, and here we are. Ten minutes until a new month and new year. Nothing like posting at the literal eleventh hour, eh?

I was originally going to make this post a “2014 in Review” type deal, but other than listing many things that happened this year—most of which wouldn’t particularly interest my readers—that wouldn’t be much of a post. Instead, I’d like to take this time to discuss an important topic which I don’t think gets spoken about nearly enough: introversion.

Introversion is officially defined as “the state of or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one’s own mental life.” In other words, someone keeps to themselves. But many people assume this definition stops there. Usually, if we see a person who doesn’t like to socialize quite as much as the next guy, we say something like, “they’re such an introvert.”

I’ve been labeled as this for most of my life, and it’s technically correct. However, I never like telling people, “I’m an introvert” (though I referred to this in the title of this post, for the sake of clarity). I prefer to say, “I have introversion.” Why?

Because saying that someone is an introvert makes it sound as though this is nothing more than a description of their personality. I would have to disagree with this. Introversion isn’t just an adjective to define a social preference; it’s an entire way of thinking and perceiving the world. As someone who has introversion, I’d like to talk a bit about what it’s like.

To debunk the common misconception, no, being an introvert does not equate to being antisocial. I have quite a few friends, love them dearly, and get painfully bored if I go too long without seeing them. But the difference is more how I prefer to hang out with them.

I’m a college kid. Many college kids love turning up or being in a large group setting to meet new people. However, I detest large crowds, or any group of people greater than 10-15. I love hanging with my friends, but in quieter settings. Watching a movie together in our dorm. Going out to dinner somewhere. Taking a walk through the neighborhood. I love blasting music and dancing, but only if I’m by myself and can jam in my own private, embarrassing way.

In short, I’m particular about how and when I see my friends. I love social events, if they’re planned out well in advance, in a controlled setting. And after a social event, I generally have to “recharge” for a brief time before I’m comfortable going out again.

When I’m home from college, I’m usually in my room awake until at least two in the morning. Why? Because this is the only chunk of time I have where I can be alone and relax, or do some writing, without anyone bothering me for anything. This is also why I love having the house or dorm room to myself.

This attitude doesn’t equate to me hating people. I love people. Erm, most of them. Usually. Some of the time.

In all seriousness, I do love people, but after too much interaction with others, I start to get this little voice in the back of my head: “I wish everyone would go away. Shoo, pesky humans. Take me to a land where no one else exists to bother me, kind of like Will Smith’s setup in I Am Legend.”

That little voice is a bit of an asshole, huh?

There’s another misconception: all introverts are jerks. Not so. More like, we simply have a lower tolerance for interacting with others.

This goes hand in hand with the discomfort of interacting with strangers. When my home phone rings, I don’t answer unless I know the person. If someone is at the door and no one else is around to get it, I dread having to do so myself. And if I’m alone with someone I don’t know very well, I feel obligated to whistle, or shake my leg, or make small talk, just to keep them from feeling awkward.

Additionally, I work best on my own, which is why I love writing—no one else there telling me how to do it. This extends to my complete and absolute hatred of group projects.

But most of all, what defines introversion for me is other teenagers not really understanding my social drive. There have been countless times that my friends have lightly teased me about having no life, or never going out, or being boring. They’re like, “you’re in college, how can you not live it up?” And as fantastic as my friends are, there are only a handful of them who really understand that “being boring” is exactly what I’d prefer to do.

And now here we are tonight, on New Year’s Eve, and I’m alone in my room blogging. This is a poor example because I actually REALLY wanted to hang out with all of my friends tonight, but unfortunately almost all of my college friends live up near my college two hours away, and the rest are traveling. But, being by myself isn’t the worst thing, either.

For anyone else out there with introversion, I hope that reading this might help reassure you that your social preferences are perfectly acceptable and not at all abnormal. And for everyone else, I hope that reading this might help you better understand that introverts aren’t antisocial assholes…we just have a lower tolerance for humans.

Happy New year, everyone!