On Being An Introvert

I don’t know how to talk and feel like whatever came out of my mouth was worth saying. Even now, I am sitting next to another introvert who is writing a post on how introverts are portrayed in the media, and I feel intimidated. I feel as though I should write about something else because he will likely write a post more worth reading than I will (regardless of the fact that we are both excellent writers). I default to believing that someone else’s word has more value, so I tend to stay silent and observe rather than thrust myself into the conversation. However, I promised myself that I would write again, and introversion is what is on my mind, so I’ll approach the subject from my own perspective; it isn’t about whose post is better, but rather about exploring the subject in our individual ways.

Like approximately one quarter to one half of the population (a range I found in the statistics I briefly browsed in a Google search), I am an introvert. This means I draw energy from having time to myself, and subsequently do my best socializing in concentrated groups – not too many people, or I get over stimulated. Overstimulation results of all sorts of things, depending on the exact situation: an inability to process/really comprehend the conversations around me, so I feel left out because I am at a loss of what to say, confusion, fear of being socially ridiculed, panic attacks and other less than fun happenings.

When there are too many people, I often feel ignored. I cannot focus on one conversation over another if I can hear them all, so I don’t have anything to say that I feel would add to the talk, so I stand there, lost in a sea of people enjoying themselves.

It isn’t that I don’t like people. I do like people. I like getting to know people, which is impossible when the sounds, actions, and smells of too many other people are distracting me from being able to a) hear someone, b) process the information that is being sent my way/into the general atmosphere, and c) think coherently of a reply or other response to continue a valuable conversation.

I spend an incredible amount of time listening to what other people want to/feel they have to say. Depending on the situation, I take in varying quantities of this information, and find it difficult to deeply reflect on any of it in the moment when the subject is too broad. I work best when I have direct questions. Instead of joining a conversations about –

honestly, my brain just froze while trying to come up with the hypothetical topic, which is further situational evidence of what I am trying to point out (and also the reason why improv is so difficult for me) –

movies, for instance, I would need to have this narrowed down. What genre are we talking about? If I happen to have seen movies recently in the genre, I can sometimes comment on them. If I have not, then I listen and try to soak up the information. However, I work much better with specific (as in not broad – I am not specifying a need for preferred subjects) questions or topics. For example, instead of an open topic of –

my brain froze again, so I am just taking cues from posters on my wall now –

romance movies (since I don’t have a better way to describe this poster), I would have a much better time discussing the adaptation of “The Fault In Our Stars” that recently came out, [especially since I am a fan of the book and the movie was about as faithful as it could be without exceeding the generally acceptable duration of a film (yes, details were cut, but they didn’t destroy any of the original story to adapt it to the screen)] rather than just speaking broadly on the genre.

I prefer talking about subject sin-depth, with people I can hear, and in a small enough group that I can feel comfortable in opening my mouth and letting people into my thoughts. I do not speak to intentionally try to prove my intelligence or to make you come over to my side of thinking (assuming we get into a debate); I like learning how others think, and enjoy being assured that I will be heard. If I fear that I won’t be listened to, I’d rather not speak.

I meet a lot of people who I find interesting, and I would like to get to know each of them better. The challenge in doing so is that it takes a lot of energy to go to large social events (at which I rarely get to know people well), and I am shy as well as introverted, so my ability to directly tell people who I think they are interesting and that I would like to spend some time getting to know them over a coffee is rather limited.

How can you tell if an introvert likes you? She looks at your shoes instead of her own. If you find me “looking at your shoes”, and you would enjoy talking to me, please help me out by bringing that up. I might get flustered and have to figure out how to add that to my calendar without sabotaging my recharge time, but if I do find you interesting, it is nice to know that others find me interesting, too.

I sometimes feel pressured to have completed something worthwhile during my time alone, which is counterproductive thinking. Sure, in theory I can more easily focus when I am alone, but in practice it really has more to do with how rested and recuperated I am. If I am in a state of calm, I can do excellent work, or read a book, in the middle of a crowded coffee shop, but if I am drained, these tasks become drudgery. I find it astonishingly difficult to focus on anything, regardless of how much I enjoy it (such as writing or reading) when I am feeling drained. I have been drained a lot in the last few months, which is partial explanation for my lack of writing. I lack discipline (I would like to write much more often, but let my lack of energy serve as an excuse), but I feel that comes in part from the general unwellness I feel when I haven’t fully recharged.

So, how do I get back on track? I simply just need to dedicate more time to writing. I might not always feel well, and I fear that makes for crappy writing, but lots of authors have written their best work while depressed/unwell, so I shouldn’t let that stop me. I stop out of a fear that there will be less salvageable writing on a page if I write while feeling crappy, and I hate editing. Everything I write cannot be expected to be good the first time around, but I have such as rusty “good writing” detector when it comes to my own work that I don’t want to give myself any extra changes to put shitty writing out there.

I plan to write more often. I cannot guarantee it will all be worth reading, but I always sincerely try to produce something worth posting. Let me know which posts you actually enjoy (comment on them, or send an email), and that will help me wipe the rust off my Good Writing Detector.

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