Friendship & Introverts

Hi, I am an Introvert. Have a burger!

When you have viewed the “I” word within the entry’s title, tell me honestly–were you shuddering, even at the slightest twitch or pressure felt in, maybe, your eyeballs, throat, or nerves?

If “no” was your answer, then I applaud your love, or acceptance, of introverts–especially if you are one.  If you said “yes,” however, then I’m not surprised.

I proudly fall into the slight minority of introverts living in the U.S., yet I too was wincing about this psychological trait.  We introverts feel forced to adapt in this dominantly extroverted world, in workplaces and relationships increasingly demanding for immediate answers to reach results, pronto.

Before I get into my story on how I have accepted my energy state, let’s reiterate the this forewarning and clarity by stating, from now until eternity, that…

Introverted people do not [always] mean they are shy!

Nor does it mean rude, snobby, uninteresting, misanthropic, “broken,” or intentionally lonely–which I believe is a different vocabulary from “alone.”  I have beautiful, not-shy-at-all friends who are introverted, that it would be painstakingly difficult to detect that they were, due to their astute sociability.  I know other buddies who may not wear the congeniality crown, but with basic understanding that we have our own, unique perspectives I discovered that they bestow profound intellects and admirable quirks.  And unfortunately I have caught extroverts displaying these aforementioned negative qualities that many introverts are falsely accused of.

However, the exception to this rule is that not only I am introverted, I am also unabashedly shy (hence the brackets).

The harsh truth I had to upkeep in the past was that I used to be ashamed about my introversion.  Born a Filipino American, I was raised by a culture that intransigently emphasizes large families and social activity–two of the many examples of extroversion.  To connect–or conform–with these values, whether in a Filipino party or a typical birthday celebration, I would most often join in slightly uncomfortably, because of fear of being judged as the polar end: loner, recluse, hermit, future crazy dog lady (I’m allergic to cats).  This scary entity raised its bump gigantically when I realized that the gift of gab–a seemingly highly prized attribute in Pinoy culture–isn’t in my own blood.

This fear, in part, had entailed the basis of my shyness.

This is by no means against my own heritage.  As I grew into the 20-something era, one of these external Pinoy activities I delved into enthusiastically molded the present me–but I ain’t telling you what it is.  It’s that slight tummy ache I’ve had to combat through when I had been forced to go against my true identity, rather than what I feel happier in–which, for the record, is different from playing safe.  In my experience, if you “keep to yourself,” or you don’t participate at even the smallest social scheme, you–and I–would be labeled, in Filipino acronym, as KJ, aka a killjoy.

If you were called that, your mind might have blurted out as a negative, antisocial connotation. Frankly and unfortunately, it still holds true in today’s cacophonous society.

From what I recalled in childhood, with almost every social interaction I would then somehow naturally retreat into some type of protected bubble, where I stayed longer than the opposite duration.  In this solitude I had either played Pokemon on Gameboy Color or had used AOL (which was off the charts in the late 90’s) when granted permission from my godfather/Ninong.  There, I strangely feel much more at ease whenever I’m in this security zone, but I have hated feeling too trapped in it.

So to my past nuanced, maturing mind, what had bugged me for years was, “Why am I considered introverted, and yet, I do love people–even when I’m not in the mood to talk?” Confounding, ya?!

For over a decade’s worth I’ve been reading a countless array of articles and webpages, taking numerous personality quizzes (both for amusement and professional, serious manner), and watching Youtube vids about introversion to now culminate my reasons why introversion is just as an amazing trait as extroversion.

We introverts can be just as much fun & as sociable as the seemingly pure extroverts.
Extroverts relishing their party animal?  Carry on, my outgoing friend!  That’s to some of us who relish some reading time, or nonstop, deep conversations with their close friend in a coffeehouse–yep, introverts can be talkative.  But when we are plugged into a social activity that intrigues us, the degree of our fully charged energy within will depend on who and how many people we are participating with before our personal time to retreat in solitude to internally refuel.  In other words, some have this energy of an hour capacity, while some can run around until they must sleep!

We introverts value our alone time as much as extroverts value their inner social butterfly.
Here’s the answer to this burning question, on why certain introverts would either leave the party very early (if they didn’t reason out as heading to another festival), absconding the party without saying “goodbye,” see their hesitation before they needed to bounce, or don’t attend at all. It’s not because they’re deep down anti-social–how absolutely rubbish!  It’s because they’re more at ease preparing for the outside, energy-eating world when we are recharging in solitude.  Some will take days to revive, and I don’t see anything wrong with that.  Extroverts, on the other hand, need to recharge by socializing, which is why you’ll notice a friend (or yourself) being the life of the party.  Analogously, solitude is our sleeping; lack of this & we’ll either control our crabbiness the best we can. or face the juggernaut.

We introverts care about our output like extroverts obtaining info from the spot.
Wonder why some of these I’s appear to have difficulty opening up, besides maybe a keen awareness of feeling judged?  We need to be certain that we expend our words wisely; for instance, when we’re up against questions that seek brisk responses.  Simply put, we think before we speak.  This is why emailing, texting, and writing are our favorite modes of communication.  Like the universal law of conservation, when excess is converted to heat: energy given is both energy taken and wasted.

We introverts become irked from a certain phrase, similar how extroverts react to a particular statement.
Telling us to “come out of our shell” is the same pet peeve as telling extroverts to “stop being an attention #$&^@.”

We introverts also detest rudeness as equally as how extroverts view rudeness.
Please do not take our “quiet response” as boorish, especially if we’re being asked a particular question at somewhere uncomfortable, like social media in general.  For me, I don’t necessarily believe that an extrovert’s cutthroat, super blunt honesty is rude.  Nonetheless, whatever spectrum you fall into, a perfect example of what both of us perceive as rude as being cut in line or from the freeway lane.

We introverts appreciate quietness just as much as extroverts thrive in literal, high volume.
It can additionally be applicable in terms of the work we’re employing.  I notice that some extroverts are proficient at work when they’re fully surrounded with people, and some introverts excel their ability when they have their door completely shut.  But keep in mind that when roles are switched, they can be true, too, depending on their mood.  When I feel too cramped in my own bedroom while typing, I love to spend a few hours in a coffeehouse, regardless of guest concentration–though digressing, I would mind if free wifi is unstable.

We introverts heavily value small but meaningful relationships, like how extroverts value tons of interaction.
“Nice weather we’re having.”  That is an automatic, bitter end of story to many introverts per events we’ve actually attended.  I have actually spoken this sentence before, and I learned that I headed nowhere but awkwardness.  Even though some small talk is fine with me, I am so much more interested in who you are. Not about the Polar Vortex, not about your mom’s cat.  I want to know you.  By simply revealing your authenticity, even at acquaintance or weirdness level, that to me is already worthwhile.  Then on, I’ll be downright comfortable connecting with you–hence using my energy aptly.

We introverts AND extroverts feel insulted when we’re not being listened.
Doesn’t matter what type either of us are in.  While talking, interruption–particularly when we briefly pause–or utter narcissism leave no point in hearing the other side, if the suspect really cared.  If you want someone who will listen to you for unbeknownst reasons, that’s what genuine introverts are awesome at.

I could continue on, but for now I’ll condense this post, conserving my hardwired energy for perhaps another entry.  Most importantly, my findings are not meant for searching and categorizing the people in your life who’s an introvert or extrovert.  We simply need to be more understanding when we want the best communication, both emotionally and rationally, among our own social situation, whether at work or at a reunion.

As for me, my current energy state, now that I appear to adapt lovingly in this public moment, would be give or take 30% extroverted.  Depending on a social circumstance, though, I can transiently and easily bounce to the 50/50 ambivert.

Just one more warning from all my fellow introverts and myself: we will not be tolerant if our introversion will be toyed around, frowned upon, or be taken advantage of. We have our own special artillery somewhere in our sleeves, and we have the right to not tell you.

And my internally recharging friend, if you’re still under a personally ashamed feeling about your temperament, remember that I’ve been in your shoes.  When you feel ready, take those quiet, foot-forwarding steps to appreciate the Yin from the Yang.

Most essentially, no matter what type you are, keep doing what you EXCEL passionately (for the good!), and be proud of that gift.

“Solitude matters, and to some people, it’s the air they breathe.” -Susan Cain

***Bonus! If you want to see an overview of introverts, check out this site: http://introvertspring.com/15-introvert-myths-infograhic/.  If you want to take a pretty short-and-sweet personality quiz, a good page to start is this: http://www.blogthings.com/whatsyourpersonalitytypequiz/ (Note: do not overthink these simple questions!)

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