What are you doing here all by yourself? Why don’t you go out more? Why do you always look so serious all the time? Why?
Before I came to know the term ‘introvert’, I thought that I was just a really shy kid. To me, you were either shy or you were not. I hated the way I was because I couldn’t understand why I would rather not be like the rest of my classmates. You cannot imagine the relief I felt when I learned about introversion and extroversion. I mean, I am a shy person – I get anxious when I’m around people whom I don’t know; heck, I’m anxious around people I do know. But oftentimes, I choose to be alone, or do not very social things. Those were the times which I was left confused as to why I acted the way I did. But now I know that I am both shy and introverted, and when you are able to at least give a name to what you are, it’s a huge relief. It’s as if everything you couldn’t understand all makes sense at once.
An introvert is viewed the same way as a shy person, from an external person’s perspective. He’s that person that looks like he doesn’t belong at that party. That girl who would rather read than join the group of people gossiping in break time. Introverted or shy, it looks the same. But inside their minds, it couldn’t be more different.
I am introverted because I oftentimes choose to be alone, or do things by myself rather than with that group of people. Whenever I interact with too many individuals, I literally feel so drained by the end of the day. It was a bit different when I was at school though; I was so used to seeing my classmates every day that they became a part of my day-to-day life. And I didn’t really talk to many people anyway. Don’t get me wrong – I thoroughly enjoy spending my time with people, especially when I get to have a one-to-one interaction with those that I particularly like interacting with. But it gets exhausting if I do this too often. It’s like I need to ‘recharge’ myself.
I am shy because I am also very insecure about being around other people. I worry about how people look at me, what they think of me, how I should act around them, and what I should say to them. This is usually when it’s around people whom I don’t really know, or when I’m in an unfamiliar situation. Again – at school, I was used to the presence of my peers, so most of the time it was fine.
Until just a few years ago, I believed something was wrong with me. During that time, I wasn’t very familiar with personality types. I knew I was shy – that was something I had to learn to accept about myself and work on. I tried to do what everyone else was doing: go to parties, reunions, hang out with my group of friends more, etc. But I don’t know if I was doing that because of peer pressure or because I thought it was the right thing to do. Because most of the time, I did not enjoy going to these social events unless I had one or two close friends by my side.
People constantly made comments about my behavior to me. The ones that bothered me the most usually came from adults, because I actually believed them. I believed that I should be like everyone else: more social, happier, more talkative, etc. I know they meant well to me. They wanted me to be able to get along with people. But the way they put it… how they said it… it made me feel like something was wrong with me. Like I didn’t belong with them unless I became more social. Outgoing. Interesting. Normal.
Fast-forward to today, I have made some peace with myself. I am still working on who I am (obviously), but because I understand myself better, I can learn to deal with a lot of things concerning with what ‘kind’ of person I am. I understand that I can often feel out of place, and that’s okay. I am able to have a good time with others, and I am being a more socially-aware person. And I still enjoy spending time to invest in myself, and sticking to have a few close friends to share my thoughts with. Because that’s who I am.