Lately, I am finding out more and more about myself and my proclaimed introversion. At the start of the school year, I was full of energy and wanted to hang out with my friends all the time, whether it was canoeing in the lake or simply watching a movie. Now, as the semester draws to an end, I am content with retreating back to my dorm room with a bowl of ramen and a dozen stories to edit.
There is a common misconception that introverts don’t like to socialize or don’t even have friends.
Being an introvert simply means that someone recharges their social battery by being alone.
One of my teachers – and one of my favorite people – told me a joke that she posted on Instagram. It goes something like this:
What is the first rule of Introvert’s Club? That there’s no Introvert’s Club. Thank God.
I found it quite funny.
The idea that introverts don’t like to go to parties, have fun, or even talking to people has taken root at the back of people’s minds and started to grow there. In my AP Language and Composition class, everyone had to take the Myers-Briggs Personality Test; I had already taken the test before and, not wanting to take it again, simply sent in my results – INFJ – from two years ago.
Not long after did I start to question whether I should’ve retaken the test.
What if my personality had changed during these two years? What if I had become an extrovert? What if my long-embraced identity as an INFJ has shattered because, at the beginning of the school year, I enjoyed hanging out with people?
Now as I’m rethinking the whole thing, it really shouldn’t have been as deep as I made it out to myself. So what if I have changed a little over the years? Everyone does. The world changes all the time, and people change with it. But also, I had fallen into the growth in the back of my mind that says: Introversion is based on isolation; extroversion is based on socializing.
I had always been mystified at why on certain days I feel lively but on others I am tired, now, I think I’m starting to figure out a pattern in my socializing behavior: At the start of every school year, I go back to school wanting to hang out with all my friends and make new friends and talk with all the people in the world. I would want to go bowling and ice skating and yell at how stupid horror movies are. But as the school year goes on (maybe two or three months in), all I want to do is sit in my room and either watch Friends and eat ramen or write and drink tea. I can at most hang with one friend. Two is too much.
When I first realized that I had a pattern, I thought it was just because of the workload and stress; I didn’t contribute it to me being an introvert. This theory would make sense if I had a lot of work and stress this year, which I definitely do not (my theory for this is that I took al the work and all the stress last year).
This is the only reason that I can attribute this behavior to:
That I am, without a doubt, an extremely introverted person. That the amount of time needed for me to recharge my social batteries is a couple of months.
I used to think that being an introvert was not okay; that I have to speak out or else not have my voice heard. Before I came to the United States, my dad told me to be aggressive; because, he said, Americans value aggression.
I now know that what he meant was for me to be extroverted. To talk more. To make my presence known. To push my boundaries. Make yourself heard or be prepared to be ignored.
As I am understanding more of my own personality, my own introversion, I grow more and more comfortable with it. I can sit in silence with a big group of people and not feel pressured to talk, I can sit alone in my room and write this blog and not feel compelled to go outside and hang out with my friends during lunch, I can be social and anti-social on different days. And no one should be allowed tell me to speak up in conversations if I don’t feel comfortable speaking.
But if you are trying to break your boundaries, to dip your toe in trying new things, by all means, speak up during class even if you’re an introvert; but if you find more peace in listening and retrospecting, do that.
There isn’t one concrete point to sum up what I have to say about introverts vs. extroverts, or a black and white statement about which I think is better, but I will say this:
In a world where noise follows you nearly everywhere you go, it is hard for introverts to find a safe place to recharge, and I think more people need to realize that it is beyond necessary for introverts to find such a place. I am happy to have my refuge of sorts – I have my bed and my writing and my coffee and my books, and sometimes, that’s really all you need.