By Brooke McAfee
I am an introvert. I do not feel compelled spend my free time in the constant company of other people, but the idea of spending a few hours in solitude, reading a book or listening to music, seems to be the perfect way to unwind after a stressful week. Time spent among a crowd, exchanging mindless small talk with unfamiliar people, may seem to drag on and on for hours, but hours spent engaging in meaningful conversation among close friends cannot be wasted. And I do not see the need to fill every silent moment with my voice.
It is not that I am shy or antisocial. Introversion is simply a different way of thinking.
The main difference between an introvert and an extrovert is the way they become energized. An extrovert will find energy by exposure to people and social situations, while introverts recharge by being alone with their thoughts for a while.
Introversion is a commonly misinterpreted personality trait. Though the majority of people tend to have extroverted personalities, introverts are not abnormal whatsoever. It is ridiculous to stereotype us, because we rarely fit perfectly into a category.
We can be quite social, talkative, and vivacious, contrary to the common opinion. And just because we do not want to be around certain people all the time is not a sign of dislike. It is simply difficult for us to have prolonged exposure to socialization. To us, solitude does not have to be synonymous with the terms bored or lonely. It can be easier to feel bored or lonely in a massive crowd of people we do not feel a true connection with.
Many introverts participate in social situations with ease, and we are certainly capable of enjoying the company of people we find interesting. We can even tolerate the sort of dull, meaningless chit chat we find so excruciating, because silence is often perceived as rude or awkward, and a conversation about things that actually matter can be difficult to initiate. And around friends or family, we may be among the loudest and most talkative in the room.
But at the end of the day, we need to be alone with our thoughts, away from the chaos of the external world. Because, let’s face it, people can be exhausting.
There are many ups and downs to being an introvert. We prefer listening to frequent speaking, and we are less likely to act impulsively, preferring to thoughts before action. We can easily concentrate, especially upon matters we are passionate about.
However, with such a personality, there are many complications. We often keep our thoughts locked up inside of us, which can make it quite difficult for people to truly get to know us. Our minds and imagination might be overactive with tumultuous activity, but little escapes from the brain into speech. That’s why many introverts turn to writing as a means of expression.
Perhaps, to the extroverted mind, what I have described seems like complete misery. Yet many people simply do not understand how introverts work. We cannot change who we are: our introversion is lodged deep within our psychology. And that is fine. Sometimes, all I need is the people I care about, meaningful conversation, and some peace and quiet.