Kayla Bacon-Carefree Fall 2

Introvert vs. Old Soul: What's the Difference?

     Ever since I was born, I have been called an old soul by my parents and extended family. I never liked hearing those words growing up, it always made me think of a little old man who sat in my head controlling every decision I made. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize what it truly means to be an old soul and I’ve come to appreciate that part of me. I’ve also realized that along with being an old soul, I’m also a complete introvert, and these two qualities sometimes overlap. There have been many times when I sit back and wonder which trait is the driving force behind my actions, and there have been just as many times when I wonder why I am the way I am. 

     First, we must define what it means to be an old soul. An old soul is someone who, despite his or her young age, acts as someone much older. An old soul displays decision-making skills that compare to that of an adult, and he or she doesn’t always find interest in the activities that his or her age group normally would. In my case, I give all of my attention to my main priorities: school, work, and my interests; I prefer to excel in these categories than take part in others. Don’t get me wrong, I like to have fun, but most times my definition of fun is different than that of my friends. If I choose to go out with my friends instead of staying in, I like to have the night planned out ahead of time and I always make sure my friends end the night safely. 

     Secondly, we must define what it means to be an introvert. The definition of an introvert is someone who prefers to either spend time alone or in small groups and someone who finds large gatherings exhausting. While I relate to this definition, I take it a step further. There are many times when I’m out somewhere and I hit a wall -- my fellow introverts know this feeling -- and I’m mentally and physically drained. I suffer in silence with the fakest of smiles plastered on my face as I watch the people around me continue to socialize and spill every little detail about their lives. I often wonder how extroverts do it and how they never reach the point of social exhaustion, and sometimes I envy them. 

     Throughout my teenage years, I have watched my friends and peers blossom socially as I sit back and watch them take risks and embrace their youth. Meanwhile, I take the road less traveled, the one deemed boring by others my age. But I have to ask myself: is it because I’m an introvert or because I’m an old soul? Sometimes it’s both; because I am an introvert and an old soul, I give priority to myself and my own interests instead of maintaining relationships. This is a fault of mine and I recognize it, but there are times when I’m thankful for it. I watch as others my age make mistakes and pay the price for them, and while I’m glad I don’t do the same, isn’t that the point of growing up -- learning from your mistakes? Am I missing out somehow?

     I’m not trying to say I’m different or feel bad for myself, in fact, it’s quite the contrary; I’ve come to love this part of me as it’s gotten me to where I am today. There comes a point in everyone’s life where we must grow up and accept that we’ve outlived our youth, and I just learned that a little bit earlier than the majority of people my age. The lesson here is learning to accept the person that you are and actually taking the time to understand why you are the way you are. Although there are times when I wish I could just let loose and be carefree, there are even more times when I’m immensely thankful for the little voice in my head that tells me to think through my decisions before acting. Maybe there is a little old man in my head after all.