I have a confession; I’m an introvert.
You wouldn’t know it by observing me, because when I’m around other people, I have a very convincing people-person-demeanor. I’ve been able to finagle my way into jobs made for much more personable people; from dancing at kid’s parties, singing in bars, and working in customer service, to my current role which is the most laughable of them all – Communications Manager, where I am actually in charge of telling other people how to present themselves.
One can argue that every job requires some level of extroversion. Unless maybe you own your own business, with no employees, and work at home, by yourself. However, the reason I know for sure that I am not an extrovert is because I actually ENJOY time by myself. Some of my favorite and most productive days of work are when nobody else is in the office, and I can sit for hours and design or write something completely alone with no interruptions.
Another reason I know I ‘m not an extrovert is because I find being around others extremely exhausting at times. I believe this is in large part due to how much I absorb the energy of the people around me; so, for example, if Suzy Q is sitting at the desk over from me, complaining about her kids all day, I’m most likely to feel overwhelmed, less productive, and more easily distracted.
I also know I’m not an extrovert, because I don’t like being called on or getting attention. If I have to attend a conference with a large group of people, I’m sitting in the back row praying that nobody talks to me. If I ever have to participate in a class or some sort of group activity, don’t expect me to raise my hand and PLEASE, for the love of GOD don’t call on me.
Of course I’ll always be friendly if I have to, but I’d prefer nobody even noticing my presence. So, hopefully now you can understand why it’s a little weird that I also enjoy singing in front of large crowds and dancing like a maniac when I’m out at clubs.
For the people who know me now, as a 25-year-old woman who is pretty comfortable in her own skin and has found success doing things that require being overtly expressive, I can understand why I come off like an extrovert. However, if you look back just a couple short years, you may have known me as the quiet, timid, stand-offish type.
Flashback to my angsty teens/early 20s: I never used to talk about what bothers me to my friends, or to anybody really. My days consisted of drinking, going out, and just laying in my bed being sad. I held a few jobs to earn some extra money, but they weren’t enjoyable or fulfilling. I had a slew of long-term and short-term boyfriends who thought they loved me, but acted as though they wanted nothing to do with me, and who could blame them? I wasn’t exactly pleasant to be around.
Of course I had my moments where I was so-called “living,” but they were short-lived. When it came down to it, it was always the same thing: I was looking for instant gratification in order to run away from the REAL problem. I didn’t like who I was.
I thought I was just shy. That I was just an introvert. That my social anxiety stemmed from the fact that I was “different” from most people.
It took me a long time to realize that I was actually depressed. And not only that, but I was using my depression as an excuse to retreat from the world instead of using my introversion and taking time to figure out WHY I was feeling the way I did.
I didn’t have much alone time, but when I did, my time was filled with meaningless scrolling of other people’s timelines; with looking for jobs and not really knowing what I liked or wanted to do; with thinking, “Hey, why doesn’t this guy like me?” instead of, “Hey, why don’t I like me?”
So now that I’ve been single for a while, and taken time for myself to find things that I truly like to do, I’ve come to the conclusion that it didn’t really matter how much time I had or didn’t have; it didn’t matter who I was or wasn’t spending time with; it didn’t help me to stress about where I was or wasn’t going to end up. All that mattered was how I was treating myself.
I think it’s easy for people like me, who get into ruts and go through depressing days, to blame others. To blame the boyfriend in your life for not treating you the right way; to blame time, telling everyone that there isn’t enough of it; to blame your job for not challenging you enough, or blame the people who want to help you for being too demanding.
I spent a lot of time looking at the things that were wrong with my life. I spent a lot of time taking out my negative energy on family and friends who only wanted what was best for me. I spent a lot of time saying, WHY ME? Why can’t things just work out so I don’t have to feel depressed and alone?
What I should have been doing was use the little time I did have to take better care of myself.
The big turning point for me was when I started writing; when I started thinking of myself and what made me truly, genuinely happy; when I started taking yoga classes, or laughing more, or saying “NO, I don’t want to go out with you tonight. I’m having a bad day and just want to sit in my bed and read a book.”
Introverts have the wonderful gift of being able to enjoy being completely alone. Just make sure to enjoy the person you are completely alone with.