Being an introvert

What is an introvert? According to the Cambridge Dictionary, an introvert is a person who is shy, quiet and prefers spending time alone rather than often being with other people. In my case this is correct. But I also think for me, it comes from an anxious state of being. When I am alone I don’t have anyone to make conversation with, to some this might seem antisocial, for me it’s peaceful. My boyfriend understands I need my alone time and he does too, we get each other; he is an introverted extrovert (ambivert). This is described as someone who has both personality traits depending on the situation. He can be the life of the party but really he is quite introverted. Me on the other hand, I would rather stay away from the party, especially if it’s mine. ‘Boring’ may spring to mind, but in my opinion I don’t think this is the case. Yes I’d rather be at home when the party is going on or avoid drinking too much because I have negative associations with alcohol, yet I’d be the first to sky dive out of a plane or book a holiday to Thailand without a second thought.

I know a lot of people that associate thrill and fun with going to parties only knowing a couple people or enjoy being the centre of attention when the situation calls for it, but for me I would rather drink my own urine twice over.

When I was really young, I remember being more outgoing than I am today. I would enjoy seeing friends all the time and meeting new kids to play with. But I feel like I have the people I need in my life right now. I know what makes me happy and what fills me with the impending doom that a panic attack does. It’s not necessarily that I avoid situations because I’m anxious, it can just be because I would just rather not be there.

I used to say yes to a lot of things that made me uncomfortable just to avoid fomo, but as I’ve gotten older I realise it’s not always worth it. Yes it’s good to get out of your comfort zone but when it comes to understanding yourself and being very self aware, you know what works for you and what doesn’t. This being said I do think I am quite adventurous, or maybe more impulsive. I tend not to overthink the tattoos I get, or worry about knowing the exact destination of a road trip, or plan out the next year of my life. I do go with the flow more than some, which is probably a bit of a contradiction to being an anxious person.

To some understanding different personality types can be hard. For me I struggle to see how someone can enjoy being sung ‘happy birthday’ to; or not be soothed by the silence of being alone.

I consider myself good at empathising, putting myself in someone else’s position and being able to understand them, but being an introvert and understanding, without judgement can be tricky. But when it comes to my friends and the people I associate with, a lot of them are extroverts and I do understand them pretty well. People change too. The person they were 10 years ago is probably not the person they are today. Personality traits change also. So if friends do change, accept it. Get to know the person they are now and more often than not, you’re feelings towards them won’t change.

Being a self analytical person I have googled what being an introvert means and tried to understand how I relate. I find it’s important though not to get too bogged down with trying to figure out who are you by reading things online. I am an introvert but also so much more. I don’t see this as a negative thing. I am definitely a listener. With my friends and people I work with, I listen rather than talk. Some people like talking. It’s a way of letting go and expressing themselves. For me I would rather listen to other people’s stories and what they have to say, than share what I’m thinking or feeling. Not because of any other reason than being an introvert. It’s not because I think what I have to say has less value than others, I would just rather be quiet and listen.

I also find peace in being quiet. I’m not one of those people that has to fill the silences. If no one is talking I won’t be the first one to speak. I don’t find silences awkward, most of the time.

I think introverts can be misunderstood. The quietness can be misconstrued and come across rude or bitchy. Meeting new people is hard for introverts and anxiety sufferers. I’m not quiet because I’m sat judging you or trying to figure you out, most of the time I will be quiet because I’m waiting for you to speak first.

It just takes me a bit of time to warm up to people. And I think I’m quite an awkward person too, so being introverted, anxious and awkward I do struggle with group situations; so being alone is just easier for me.

‘Alone had always felt like an actual place to me, as if it weren’t a state of being, but rather a room where I could retreat to be who I really was.’ Cheryl Strayed.

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