“Why aren’t you going out with us?”
“Don’t you get lonely?”
“Stop being so boring.”
I smile at this as I snuggle further into the couch, a book in hand with my cup of coffee waiting by the windowsill. My friends would look at each other and shake their heads before heading out.
You would have probably heard of this “strange” behavior that basically labels you as some social recluse. Prefers staying at home? Check. Avoids large crowds? Check. Hates small talk? Check. Congratulations, my friend! You are an “introvert”!
Introverts are typically described by all those online quizzes as someone who draws energy from being alone as compared to “extroverts” who draw their energy from being around people. At this point, your first impulse would probably be to take this all with a grain of salt. After all, experience would tell us that classifying people in completely opposite social polls feels extremely limiting.
But one must admit that we can derive a degree of satisfaction from being able to classify ourselves in a group since it can help others understand us a bit more. True enough, there is nothing better for an introvert than having space to freely and simply just be without being asked if we’re sad or angry when asked to be left alone.
Alone is comfortable. I cannot count the number of times I have ducked in a street that was completely out of my way just to avoid an acquaintance headed in a similar direction. It’s not that I don’t like them or that I want to be rude; there are just moments when I am more comfortable in my own company and thoughts. It’s a refreshing time to reflect; a quiet space to lay out my mistakes and flaws away from watchful eyes.
Alone is a place I can hear myself think. I remember ducking in bathrooms during parties to recharge my ‘people meter’ only to find 2 or 3 introverts all finding shelter in the same hiding spot. There, we acknowledge each other knowingly as we collect our thoughts and recall the conversations we’ve had shouting over blasting music and voices in a room overflowing with people.
In a way, being an introvert is a funny spot to be in. You walk with these points of contradictions: of wanting to truly encounter people and live but having to communicate to do so, of being able to speak in front of thousands of people only to be a bundle of nerves when asked to spend time with just one, or seeking opportunities to empathize but finding it hard to get past the awkwardness of small talk.
At the gist of it, perhaps one can look at this as a chance to be brave. After all, sharing your inner world takes practice but the good news is that we will encounter those who can constantly bring us out of ourselves. Stepping outside would allow you to meet others who would see you beyond the failing and the awkwardness. More so to the point that they would eventually be your companions in figuring out this big bad world together.
Let’s all try to be brave every day.
Written by Anne Mimille Guzman, a current WYA Headquarters’ intern from the Philippines.