So. I’m recently convinced that we never really know ourselves. I mean, I know who I am in terms of likes and dislikes, but through reflection, I am constantly learning new things about me. In a post about a year ago, I described myself as aloof and socially selective. While this is sometimes true, I have come to a new, more accurate conclusion about myself that explains a lot: I think I’m an introvert.
Before you argue with me, I should say that I don’t think I’ve always been one. The teenage years were a fairly social time for me, not that introverts aren’t social, but if I was ever extroverted, I suppose I was then. However, there is no longer any question for me about where my energy comes from and what situations make me most comfortable. One article I read listed the following as characteristics of an introverted personality, and I’ve annotated to make them fit me:
- Very self-aware — more like self conscious or paranoid
- Thoughtful — does lost in thought count? My mind has 7 or 8 browser tabs open at any given moment.
- Enjoys understanding details — I consider myself detail oriented
- Interested in self-knowledge and self-understanding — God knows I try.
- Tends to keep emotions private — If you only knew!
- Quiet and reserved in large groups or around unfamiliar people — I don’t really waste time getting to know new people…
- More sociable and gregarious around people they know well — …but I have a great time with the people I love.
- Learns well through observation — Maybe? I’m pretty observant.
Here are few scenarios that I’ve experienced lately which have lead me to discovering my introversion.
- “You’re mean.” I’m honest. I’m usually pretty confident. I’m selective with my time, and I’m exhausted by things that I don’t think are worth it. Maybe that’s mean, but that’s me.
- “Jamie’s husband is in the deer woods, and she’s at home, so let’s invite her to go out to a club/party/gathering of perfect strangers.” Do not feel sorry for me! I love being home! I would rather sit at home with my children or alone that to have to prescreen everything I say to people who I do not know.
- “Let’s don’t invite Jamie to the [insert gathering or occasion name here] because she won’t come.” Is it really worth not inviting me and hurting my feelings? I still like company, especially if it’s people I’m comfortable around. If it’s not a super gigantic event, and I can make it, I’ll be there.
- “You’re too much of a ‘guy,’ and that’s why you don’t have a ton of girl friends.” The fact that most of my friends have been guys is only proof of the fact that I avoid meaningless conversation and drama. Not that I dislike girls, but it’s the truth: Guys are comfortable with silence, and they don’t scrutinize my hair/makeup/wardrobe.
- “You’re a snob/think you’re better/come across as rude.” Here’s the truth: With these self confidence issues, I do not think I’m better than anyone.
- “If you’d go out more often, you’d get used to it, and enjoy it more.” Not really. It usually takes me a long time to recover and quit over-analyzing every conversation I had while out. It’s like a social hangover: I literally spend the next day replaying ever conversation as I remember it to make sure things were “normal.” How in the world could doing this MORE be worth it.
More proof of my introversion came with the recent winter weather. Being stuck in the house from Thursday to Sunday was unexpected — and welcome. As I observed my Facebook friends getting cabin fever and (literally) risking their lives by venturing out into the weather just for social interaction, I was shocked at how my attitude contrasted with theirs. I had an excuse to be inside my warm home with the people I love most and not have to exhaust myself with small talk — certainly not at Wal-Mart just for the sake of getting out! I was happy and warm at home not spending energy conversing.
So, besides a little further “self understanding,” I guess the point of this post is to explain how misunderstood introverts are. It’s not always that a person is a recluse or rude. It could be that the person is overwhelmed by the energy it takes to socially interact. Don’t exclude someone you care about because of what you perceive as unsocial behavior; maybe they’ll be willing to try this time.