To be an Introvert

I attended a fantastic book signing at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe this weekend to see Ransom Riggs: a hilarious, talented young man who penned Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children as well as its newly released sequel, Hollow City. Ransom was sociable and clever, great at off-the-cuff jokes and comic tidbits. Meanwhile, I was a nervous wreck in my seat because there were too many people and the chairs were too close together.

Me at Ignite Phoenix, speaking in front of 900 people.
Me at Ignite Phoenix, speaking in front of 900 people.

I’ve fought for years to act the part of an extrovert. I do public speaking. I throw parties at my house. I come off as confident, outgoing, and a little eccentric. The truth: I’m painfully introverted, and it takes an awful lot of emotional energy to leave my house.

According to About.com’s Psychology page, “People who are introverted tend to be inward turning, or focused more on internal thoughts, feelings, and moods rather than seeking out external stimulation.” Introverted does not mean shy; it just means we’re happier in our own heads than in the center of a crowd.

Even the social butterfly can be an introvert, which is a perfect example of me. I am a social butterfly, but only for a certain amount of time. After awhile, I run out of words, and I literally need to get home before I have a panic attack.

The Huffington Post has an article entitled “23 Signs You’re Secretly an Introvert,” and it gave me a laugh. Among the listed items:

  • Giving a talk in front of 500 people is less stressful than having to mingle with those people afterwards. (Can you say “Ignite Phoenix?”)
  • You screen all your calls—even from friends. (Guilty.)
  • You have a constantly running inner monologue. (The voices! The voices!)
  • You’re a writer. (Literally, this was on their list. No joke.)

I could go on, but you get the idea. As I said, I’ve fought to be an extrovert, because I admire people who are. Some of my best friends and social icons are extremely extroverted. They’re charmers. People like them, remember them. They love “doing things,” and I’ve wanted to be like that for years, but you know what? I’m thirty-one, and maybe I’m getting a little old to be someone else.

f4da910154a970b30270c93711ec96daSometimes, it sucks really knowing yourself, because you might not like what you find. For instance, I’m grumpy and unpleasant when I’m around people for too long. I’m horrible at returning voicemails because I hate talking on the phone. I’m in my head so much, I feel like I occasionally neglect my husband, my family, my friends … these are flaws. I don’t like them, but they are mine.

I once considered being an introvert a flaw, but no longer. It’s who I am. It’s who a lot of people are. I’d like to be like Ransom at Changing Hands. I’d like to be relaxed in a crowd and feed off the energy around me, but I can’t. And maybe I should stop trying.

The older I get, the more weird and introverted I become. Does this worry me? No. I’m just growing more comfortable with myself.

I am an introvert. I don’t want to go to that dinner theater performance because I’m terrified they might pull me on stage. I refuse to go on weekend trips with people I don’t know well, because I can’t be trapped in a hotel room with them. I know when to say “no,” but I say YES to introversion—because that’s who I am. Hear me roar … while sitting happily alone on the couch in my living room.

12 thoughts on “To be an Introvert

  1. Being an Introvert doesn’t mean you don’t like people or even that you are not social… it just means that you find your energy and your personal battery “re-charged” when alone. Enjoying your blogs.

  2. Very well said. This is why introverts like us need to plan outings together, venture from our respective caves. Otherwise, in the cave I will stay. And likely mentally replay past conversations where I sounded like an idiot.

  3. This fits me to a T. I don’t mind talking in front of lots of people or parties with a handful of friends, but small talk confounds me. You should try the book, Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking by Susan Cain. It really made me realize that there is nothing wrong with being an introvert.

  4. I relate completely and second the book rec by Erin. A good friend of mine who is both a writer and mathematician wrote up the number of introversion hours I need to recover after an extroverted session. It’s pasted on my office door along with a picture of my husband yelling “You’re OUT” (he used to umpire LL games). The kids know that when the door is closed, it means they need to be bleeding to knock on the door. Only cats and dogs are allowed.

  5. As a fellow introvert, I see “Hear, hear!” I’m glad that you’re embracing your introvert side rather than trying to change it. Introverts have a lot to offer the world.

  6. Hello Sara!! It’s been so long since I have commented, but I have been quietly stalking you since the last time I did!!

    This post completely resonated with me! I have always considered myself a Forced Extrovert. In other words, I’m an Introvert through and through, but I have always pushed myself to get out there. I can do talks in front of hundreds of people and be fine, but I can only do small talk for so long before I really must go now! Thank you for this piece! I needed it at exactly this time in my life!

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