The life of an introvert is not an easy life to live. Being one, I often want out of this lifestyle, but since this is who I am, I’m learning to embrace it. Introverts tend to be very misunderstood by those who do not identify with the term so here’s a better understanding.
When I was a toddler, I never really engaged with the other children in my preschool. I was always off to the side somewhere, playing with my own toys and doing my own thing. The teachers saw it as a potential sign of a mental disorder and brought it to my parent’s attention. Although my parents knew I was shy around people I didn’t know, they wanted to be sure it was nothing serious, so they took me to a child study center to get psychologically assessed. My mother and I was taken into a big room full of toys. The testing instructors left the room and observed my behavior and how I interacted with my mother through a one-sided mirror. I was excited to be in this huge toy room, just like any other child would be. I interacted with my mother with no problem. After that phase was completed, test administers came in and gave me different tasks to do. Once they’d seen that I had no issue getting any of these tasks done, they knew that nothing was wrong with me, but this indeed made it clear that I was an introvert.
Another similar situation presented itself in the first grade. I was academically advanced compared to the rest of the students in my class, so there were plans set to have me skip a grade. However, after close observation, the head of the academic administration did not allow it due to me being “too shy”. This situation alone is a perfect representation of how my introverted traits have held me back throughout the years, which is a personal struggle I’m still learning to overcome.
So, what exactly is an introvert?
Merriam-Webster describes the term introvert as, “a reserved or shy person”, but I’m personally not a fan of that definition. Although that can be very true, it’s much broader. Not all introverts are shy. IntrovertSpring defines it as, “a person who gains energy from being alone and loses energy in stimulating environments, such as social events.” That seems much more accurate. Although I am quiet, once I get comfortable, it’s a whole ‘nother story. I can be the most talkative, outgoing person while in my ideal enviroment, but at any moment, I can go from having the time of my life to, “please, get me the hell out of here!” (There’s honestly not enough exclamation marks in that last quote.) God, the dire feeling of being in a setting you don’t want to be in is the worst feeling ever. I’m sure everyone has had that experience, but for introverts, the feeling is unexplainable. Did y’all hear the story about KeKe Palmer hiding in a closet in Trey Songz house? Yeah, you almost result to that. Almost..
In grade school, I had very little issues dealing with this. Children’s hearts are so open so it was really nothing for me to interact with them in my younger years. At one point, I was the “new girl”, so everyone knew me at the time. My newfound friends went on to become the friends I had up until high school, plus many more. In my recent years, no challenge has ever compared to the challenge of being an introvert in college. Transferring to Clark Atlanta University in the Fall of 2016 was a reality check. Just like everyone else, I had to start over. It seemed so easy for others, but for me, it wasn’t as simple and I knew exactly why. Common misconceptions of introverts is that we’re standoffish, aloof, uninteresting, less provacative, etc. This is not the case. It’s simply that sometimes, people seem like vampires. Everywhere you go, energy-sucking vampires.
Alone time is essential to an introvert. We absolutely need it. Our idea of “fun” may simply be a box of pizza, a bottle of wine, Netflix, and a comfy couch. We’re pretty simple but complicated in so many ways. Don’t expect immediate, consistent texts from someone who may be an introvert. You’re most likely not gonna get it. You may have had them going for a couple hours or so but their clock will most likely run out. Once that happens, they’ll respond when they’re ready to. Right now, they just don’t have it in them to keep the conversation going, (so to all of my dearest friends, please stop complaining about how I’m a “bad texter”. I know.) Phone calls? We hate them! We’ll take a text before a phone call any day. Spending time with an introvert may not seem like much to you, but to us, it’s a lot. Our time and space is very important to us. If we share it with you, cherish it. If you’ve been blessed enough to spend an entire day with an introvert, don’t expect to spend the next day with them. They’ll probably use it as their day to rejuvenate. If they do, however, want to spend a lot of time with you, you’re a special one. Don’t mess that up.
The reason introverts are the way we are is usually due to how spirited and intuitive we are. You know that “gut feeling” you feel? We feel that times 10! Along with that, we’re very susceptible to the energies of other people, so if someone around us is feeling down, or being mean in some way, our mood is likely to go down right along with them. That’s why we’re so mindful of who we choose to surround ourselves with. We overthink a lot because of how sensitive we are. We’re constantly trying to understand the deeper meaning of everything that is said or done around us. We don’t like forcing interactions. If it doesn’t flow easily, then it’s not genuine. If you really want to engage us, come to us about something on a deeper level. Give us a reason to really want to talk to you. Small talk is a waste of time. We can have many, many associates but only be able to count our friends on one hand. A “friendship” to us is much more valuable than it seems. Genuine vibes is something we cherish so we don’t give away the title too loosely.
We like structure. It gives us a little more control over our lives. We hate not making proper use of our time or not knowing what’s next. We’re quiet and slow with our responses. Not because we’re not engaged, but because we’re observing and most of all, thinking. Introspection is a major part of being an introvert. We’re wanderers. Our heads are always in the clouds. I know some of us seem disconnected but if you could get inside our minds, you’d be overwhelmed. Often times, we’re overwhelmed with our own thoughts, finding it very difficult to even verbalize what we’re thinking. For as long as I can remember, writing was always an aid to my inability to effectively speak my thoughts. Instead of keeping them hauled up in my mind, it was much more convenient to give my thoughts a home on paper. It’s the reason why I love writing as much as I do.
It’s clear that the extroverted lifestyle is the norm in our society, but introverts have just as much to offer to this world. Some of your favorite artists, writers, actors, and intervators are introverts, like Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Lady Gaga, SZA, Marilyn Monroe, Donald Glover, Kim Kardashian, Meryl Streep, and many more. We manage quite well and we aren’t much different from you, we just need to be tended to a little differently. It all starts with an understanding.