I spend a lot of time alone. I have a small group of friends. I’m not comfortable going to parties. My usual weekend plans include being curled up on the couch watching movies with my boyfriend. Yearning for quiet time, shying away from large groups, and needing plenty of time to myself have always been significant characteristics of who I am.
But that doesn’t mean I’ve always accepted them.
I used to feel guilty for liking quiet time, away from other people. I couldn’t help the gnawing feeling I had in the pit of my stomach whenever I politely declined the invitation to a party. I felt like there was something wrong with me when I didn’t want to spend my days surrounded by people and instead, enjoyed quiet time writing or reading. But learning there was a name for my behaviors — introversion — was a revelation to me. Being an introvert isn’t a flaw; it’s merely different from what it means to be an extrovert. Both of them are perfectly fine to be! (You may even be a combination of the two, known as an ambivert.)
Learning more about what it meant to be an introvert helped quell at least some of those worries that there was something wrong with me (although I admit sometimes I still feel bad for wanting to be alone!). According to Psychology Today:
Introverts are drained by social encounters and energized by solitary, often creative pursuits. Their disposition is frequently misconstrued as shyness, social phobia or even avoidant personality disorder, but many introverts socialize easily.
So are you an introvert like me? Here are a few general traits that can help you decide.
Introverts may find small talk tedious.
It’s a fact of life that we must engage in small talk, but for some introverts, it can be anxiety-inducing. While introverts may very well like the people they’re talking to, conversations that count as “small talk” can feel disingenuous. Conversations require energy, which sometimes means introverts need to be in the right frame of mind to chat. This doesn’t mean introverts don’t like to talk. Many are more than happy to talk about things they love.
Introverts prefer solitary activities over group activities.
It’s not that introverts want to do everything all alone, all the time, but introverts do feel invigorated by time spent alone. Reading. Writing. Drawing. Things that can be done while it’s quiet feel invigorating.
Introverts are often reserved around new people.
One common misconception about introverts is that they somehow don’t enjoy the company of others. That’s not true. Rather, introverts may be hesitant to meet new people but get along perfectly well once they get to know someone.
For new activities, introverts prefer to observe before they participate.
Introverts tend to try to take everything in, observe, and see how things unfold. Because of this, introverts like to watch a task be performed before they’re asked to do it.
Introverts need quiet time to “recharge.”
If an introvert has been forced to do too many social activities in a short amount of time, they can just shut down. While extroverts gain energy from interactions with the “outside world,” these interactions zap up energy from introverts; introverts gain that energy back by spending time alone and spending time in a quiet place. Once they’re able to recharge, introverts feel good as new.