Discovering I’m An Introvert

elizabeth

For a long time I struggled through a contradiction of confidence, sociability, shyness and anxiety. Sounds strange that one can inhabit all of these qualities at once. But I sure did manage such a feat. Or rather, I wasn’t really managing it all that well at all.

On the one hand I desperately wanted to spend time with friends, go on adventures, meet new people, have exciting experiences. And on the other hand, I was so often exhausted and barely able to leave the house.

There were moments when I struggled with FOMO, but I barely had the energy to leave the house.

My lifestyle flitted between constant work and hanging out with friends to then never going out and just about making it to work feeling like a zombie.

So often I would miss out on social gatherings.

So often I would sit in the corner of a party looking at my phone.

So often I would much prefer the silence of my own company to that of others.

WHAT WAS WRONG WITH ME?

I felt like a freak.

And I felt like this for the longest time.

Until I discovered the true meaning of the term introvert.

Before this discovery I thought an introvert was just someone who was unable to talk to others. Or maybe someone who was bit shy.

But actually the introvert/extrovert paradigm is about energy and how we gain it. In simple terms, introverts gain their energy through solitude, quiet and away from others. Whereas extroverts gain their energy from being around other people, places and external stimuli. Of course, there is a bit more to it than that. (Here’s a useful article dispelling persistent myths about introversion/extraversion).

I came to realise that I wasn’t anti-social, useless, boring or plain weird. I started to reflect on past instances when I just couldn’t make some things. It became apparent that the exhaustion and anxiety was mostly due to my introversion. At those moments in time I needed to recharge.

By reflecting and understanding how and when I used energy I began to think ahead and plan how I used my time more effectively, taking into account my energy levels. The result is that I am now able, for the most part, to attend social soirees, work events and spend time with other people. All because I plan where I use my energy. I space out my calendar, slot in work-from-home time, and when my body calls for it, I just rest.

It’s been an utter revelation.

If only I had understood this 10 or 20 years ago!

There is great value in being able to understand, reflect and adapt how you shape your life. Granted, there are external factors that influence this. But for the most part, you can adapt and put systems in place to look after yourself.

I’m not completely there. I do have my moments every now and then. But as I mentioned in my post ‘How I Got Over My Fear Of Networking‘ I am now able to attend blogging events on my own and actually talk to people. It’s been amazing.

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Rosalilium 

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8 Comments

  1. 8 June 2015 / 10:20 pm

    I realised last year I am an introvert. I’d always struggled to understand because like you I thought introverts just didn’t talk, but when I’m out socially I’m full of chatter, energy and beans. I can easily be the life and soul of the party – but I am EXHAUSTED after any kind of social session.

    • 10 June 2015 / 11:34 am

      It’s total revelation to realise it’s about how you recover your energy,

  2. 9 June 2015 / 9:52 am

    I realised this quite recently too, having always just assumed I was a complete weirdo before that! In my case, I’m ALSO very shy, so I have a double-whammy to deal with, but I do really enjoy socialising with the people I know (it’s new people that scare me a bit!), so I’m not totally anti-social, I just need a lot of downtime to balance out the socialising, or I start to lose it. I also will get to point during a party or whatever where it’s like my brain will just be like, “Nope, not doing this any more!” and that’s that (Kinda frustrating given that I’m married to an absolute extrovert, who always has to be the last person to leave anything!). Understanding all of this has really helped me, as has knowing there are other people who are like this – I wish it was a bit more widely understood, so people wouldn’t be quite as surprised by those of us who just need to be alone sometimes!

    • 10 June 2015 / 11:36 am

      Absolutely. It’s helped me understand other members of my family who are even more introverted than me. Before I couldn’t understand why they would disappear any time family came over, now I realise they’re brain just had enough stimulation.

  3. 9 June 2015 / 5:43 pm

    YES. This is totally me. For the last year I’ve REALLY been embracing my introverted, INFP qualities and I’m SO MUCH HAPPIER! ^_^ Yay!

    • 10 June 2015 / 11:37 am

      That’s great to hear! I think it makes a such a difference to understand how we work.

  4. 9 July 2015 / 5:26 pm

    I first learnt about introversion/extroversion a few years ago when we did Myers Briggs tests in my job. It was like someone switched the light on in my brain! I now understand myself a lot better and also why I was always so unhappy trying to be something I’m not (extrovert). I’m glad it’s cleared some stuff up for you too 🙂

  5. 13 October 2016 / 1:51 pm

    I had no idea I was an introvert either, due to being seemingly confident and chatty and able to mingle easily, but not knowing why sometimes I just couldn’t. If I said to any of my long-standing old schoolfriends I was an introvert they would laugh at me, but I suppose it’s what people don’t see – the bit when we’re recharging alone – that is the defining characteristic, so how would they know? It has been a bit of a revelation to me as well, but also one which has enabled me to tackle life better. This is the kind of thing they should teach in schools. It would have saved years of worry. Thank you for sharing xx

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