On Being an Introvert: Self-Discovery

For the last few years, I’ve felt slightly out of place. Unlike most twenty –somethings, I did not enjoy going out to clubs or bars or parties. I usually ignored group invitations with the guise that I worked too much (which I do, so it’s not too much of a lie). Instead of venturing out to brave bulk shopping days like Black Friday, I stayed home, content with some online browsing of potential gifts.

However, I saw that my friends of Facebook, my peers in living the twenty-something lifestyle, were all very social. They often posted about the parties they attended or the gatherings they had at their homes. And I was a little bit jealous. They always looked like they were all having so much fun. Yet, I knew that if I tried to engage in these same social engagements, that I would find myself awkward and uncomfortable. I would look for an exit as I was forced to share parts of my life or endure the endless small talk. For this, I felt unlike many of my peers because I was uncomfortable with the cornerstone of twenty-something social interaction.

A week ago, as I cruised through Pinterest, one of my favorite downtime activities, I stumbled across a pin about INFP. I don’t remember what the pin said exactly, but I identified immediately with the quirky observation. I had completed the Myers-Briggs Personality Test a couple of years ago as a group activity at work. At the time, I thought it was fun because it links the best careers for your personality and one of mine was a writer, which I have wanted to be since I could read my first book. Yet, I did not understand the other components of the personality or the characteristics usually associated with it.

As I dug further, first through Pinterst and then onto the World Wide Web, I realized that what I had considered my social awkwardness was really a byproduct of being an introvert. I did appreciate one article that explained that begin an introvert did not equate to being shy, but rather that introverts found extended periods of time surrounded by people to be draining. Personally, I actually enjoy speaking in front of people, as long as the topic is not about me. I am not shy; I can approach students and customers alike with relative ease, as long as I am not detained for a longer than two-minute session of small talk.

When I was in college, I sat next to this fellow who I thought was really cute, but I was unable to speak to him for fear of rejection. I didn’t even look at him because I worried that this would start a conversation and he would realize how awkward I truly was. When I discussed this with one of my friends, she explained to me that although she knew I was a genuinely kind person, I came off a little snobbish. This, I found, I can thank my introvertism for. Obviously, nothing developed from my crush, but I carry that same awareness with me- that I can appear a little snobbish. Now, do I completely blame my introvertism for it? Or is it because I am a New Englander? Does the cold make me inherently bitter? Are these leftover feelings from the Puritans?

Okay, I digress.

Yet what is the outcome of all of this?  I am beginning to finally understand my introvert, acknowledge her pitfalls and, most remarkably, embrace a sense of confidence in knowing that I am not alone in my need for quiet reflection, my over-thinking and under-speaking dilemmas and my intensely large personal bubble. It is funny that, by realizing that my personality is so heavily influenced by introvertism, I actually feel more self-assured.