I’m an introvert.
Saying that feels embarrassing. Overly personal and negative. It’s a confession, not a statement. But it’s true. (See also Labels Can Be Soothing (2009) and Surprise Introvert (2011).)
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Recently this post at The Power of Introverts hit me so hard I almost started crying: “I spent my entire life thinking that I was psychologically damaged, that my aversion to social gatherings and crowds was a disorder or a phobia. I couldn’t even enjoy my solitude, because I continually assailed myself with resentments and deprecations for wanting it so often; for being unable to enjoy the parties and venues that I thought must be inherently enjoyable, despite my failure to tap into that joy. It wasn’t until the middle of last year that I discovered that I am completely normal, that my disposition was born in me, and that it was no mistake.”
I’ve always been ashamed that I’d choose a quiet corner with a book above almost anything else. I remember being seven years old and trying to play off getting caught trying to duck into an empty room during my own birthday party for a few minutes of silence.
It’s not about disliking people. Not at all. It’s about whether it’s okay to get overwhelmed.
“All I needed in order to find such happiness and peace with myself was to learn that I am permitted to feel those things.”
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I love this metaphor, from Reddit: “Imagine you’re not hungry, but every single person you meet during the day offers you a sandwich, and it’s rude to decline, you have to eat all those sandwiches one by one. At the end of the day you are sick and tired of all the food. On the other hand, you like good food, and need it to survive. It’s just you need less of it than most other people.”
Introverted means you are stimulated by things more than an extrovert. It means that you soak up quiet and solitude like a salamander soaks up the sun. Too much is too much.
It may have been obvious to you that most of what I mentioned needing in my last post was space, and quiet.
I didn’t realize it until later. It isn’t at all that I don’t want to see, or talk to, or spend time with people I care about. It’s just that, lately, “too much” is exactly the right description.
I don’t think I’m alone. Life bombards us with stimuli so much more these days. Everything is faster, busier, has so many more options, is so much more. I wonder if that’s why, now, people like Susan Cain and Sophia Dembling are speaking up and helping us understand. We’re not broken or damaged, not rude or awful. We’re just full.