Growing up I was definitely more of a reserved kid. I was a TOTAL bookworm and threw myself into my homework and art projects. I loved playing make-believe in my treehouse, or accompanying my mom antique shopping. And I was happiest either one on one with someone – or completely alone. I loathed group activities and projects. They stressed me out, exhausted me. And I felt like I couldn’t get anything done with everyone talking over one another.
Please No Summer Camp!
My parents forced me to do group activities though – everything from softball to swimming, volleyball and track. I lasted about 1 year in each sport and would beg them not to make me go back. I wanted to take art classes (which were always calm + quiet). Or focus on my studies from the comfort of my home. I realize I’m making myself out to sound like a total nerd…welp I still am! My sister on the other hand, was SO outgoing. Obsessed with club volleyball, soccer team captain, always blowing off her homework to have huge choreographed dance parties with her friends in our driveway, and would go to sleep away camp for months over the summer. I can’t even begin to talk about how much I hated camp lol….
A Fish Out Of Water
My best friends in middle school were semi introverted, but not on the level that I was. So I always felt like a fish out of water amongst my peers. That feeling stuck with me throughout high school, college and beyond. I somehow always gravitated to a more outgoing friend or group of friends (maybe because I so badly wanted to be seen as outgoing and also didn’t fit in with the “shy” crowd), and this left me feeling constantly out of place, confused and misunderstood. For basically my entire life, I tried to hide my introversion. It was impossible though. Like clock work, after I’d done too much socializing, I’d eventually get insanely drained and make up an excuse that I had to go home to grab something, had to work, didn’t feel well, couldn’t make it to the party because of X,Y,Z etc…
Stigma Around Introverts
I was always embarrassed to admit I was an introvert because society certainly doesn’t celebrate introverts. Introverts have been mislabeled and misunderstood forever. People think introverts are shy and reclusive, but that just isn’t the case. I’ve never thought of myself as shy – I love meeting new people and feel very comfortable walking into a room full of strangers and striking up conversation. I also LOVE to travel. Exploring new places and discovering hidden gems is one of my greatest passions.
A Book About Introverts
It wasn’t until I read the book Quiet last year, that I came to fully understood and embrace the definition of an introvert. Susan Cain, the author behind Quiet, defines introverts as having “a preference for a quiet, more minimally stimulating environment. Introverts tend to enjoy quiet concentration, listen more than they talk, and think before they speak, and have a more circumspect and cautious approach to risk. Introverts think more, are less reckless and focus on what really matters – relationships and meaningful work.” Cain shares that between “one-third and one-half of Americans may be classified as introverts, though individuals fall at different places along an introvert-extrovert spectrum.” Those people are called ambiverts.
Yep, I’m A Textbook Introvert
Up until this quarantine 51 days ago, I considered myself pretty 50/50 on the introvert-extrovert spectrum. I mean, I love going to a good party, catching up with friends, being out + about in NYC – it excites me and makes me feel alive! However I also really love my downtime at home reading, writing, creating and dreaming. Whether I go in or stay out really depends on my mood or the situation. BUT the majority of the time, as in about 90% of the time, I am perfectly content – actually over the moon – staying home by myself or with one or two people I love. I would choose staying home or doing something intimate and quiet, over a loud event, dinner, or party any day.
The blessing and silver lining behind this quarantine for me personally, has been that after all of these years I’ve finally come to terms with just how introverted I really am. I feel SO grounded and content after this time at home, away from the pressure I have felt for years from both myself and others to go out, out, out and do so.many.things! In reality, my fun is recharging at home. Immersing myself in creative projects, cooking, teaching myself new things, and having low key movie nights cuddled with Charlie and T. May I add that I feel very fortunate to even have the option to stay home while so many others don’t!
Anyways, when this is all over, will I be sooooo excited to throw on my heels and attend a fabulous party, dine out at a restaurant, and hug my friends? YES OF COURSE! DUH! But, knowing me, I will probably be ready to kick my heels off, throw my sweats on and get cozy about an hour or two in ;)
To My Fellow Introverts
To all of my closet, or not-so-closet introverts and ambiverts, out there I feel you and I get you! Let’s change the stigma around introversion and be proud of what makes us who we are. If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and read Quiet even if you’re not an introvert. My friend Grace wrote an amazing review on it in case you need more convincing. It’s truly an eye opening read that will help you understand not only yourself, but the people in your life.