Thursday, April 16, 2009

We're Just Different

I love this article about introverts. The Atlantic Monthly and I have had trouble before (stupid YA-haters who are allowed to write YA reviews), but this is such a nice take on people who are actually okay with spending time on their own. I definitely consider myself an introvert. I like hanging out with people, but I also need time on my own to decompress. This is a good way of looking at it.

"Introverts are not necessarily shy. Shy people are anxious or frightened or self-excoriating in social settings; introverts generally are not. Introverts are also not misanthropic, though some of us do go along with Sartre as far as to say 'Hell is other people at breakfast.' Rather, introverts are people who find other people tiring.

Extroverts are energized by people, and wilt or fade when alone. They often seem bored by themselves, in both senses of the expression. Leave an extrovert alone for two minutes and he will reach for his cell phone. In contrast, after an hour or two of being socially "on," we introverts need to turn off and recharge. My own formula is roughly two hours alone for every hour of socializing. This isn't antisocial. It isn't a sign of depression. It does not call for medication. For introverts, to be alone with our thoughts is as restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating. Our motto: 'I'm okay, you're okay—in small doses.'

Extroverts have little or no grasp of introversion. They assume that company, especially their own, is always welcome. They cannot imagine why someone would need to be alone; indeed, they often take umbrage at the suggestion. As often as I have tried to explain the matter to extroverts, I have never sensed that any of them really understood. They listen for a moment and then go back to barking and yipping."

I've always felt like that, but no one's put it that way before. I love hanging out with friends, but often I find that it's just as nice to have a moment to oneself. And that that's okay. It doesn't mean you're lonely or sad. It means that you don't mind having a moment to yourself. Growing up, my parents always thought I was sad and lonely, because they're extremely extroverted and would go out all the time, whereas I was totally fine staying in and reading. They didn't understand the difference between loneliness and quietness.

It's like how I don't understand the people who constantly need to be on cell phones--in stores, in line, whatever. Can't you have a moment alone? Extroverts are more likely to need that constant connection. Introverts aren't necessarily scared of interaction--they just like to have the quiet of their own mind as well.

So here's to the introverts! Although we like to be invited to parties, we also like to have a night in.


Catherine said...

People are always surprised to find out that I'm an introvert. I can be very outgoing and I love to have a good time, but, just as mentioned in the article, I get tired by people. I love people and I love having a job (or school, or whatever it is I do each day) working with people, but at the end of the day I can't wait to go home, seclude myself to my bedroom and just have me time. My roommate was really surprised by this when we first started living together. I had to explain to her that it's not that I don't like her or want to hang out with her, it's just that when I'm at home I like to have alone time.