Monday, November 7, 2011

Feature Post: Being an Introvert

I have decided that this post deserves re-posting due to the truth of the content as it applies to myself. I know a lot of people, though they have never directly said it to my face, have wondered if I'm rude, shy or just generally a quiet person. Honestly no, I'm not.

I can be loud, raucous and an overall nice person. I just have to be in my ideal situation for this to be the case. The post below is by a girl I don't know personally, but was able to put into words exactly what I have struggled to do for so long. In other words she nailed it right on the head.

My good friend Jordan posted this on her blog where I was able to read it and "borrow" it (thank you). I hope you take the time to read this, as it will help explain why I am the way I am, and I hope you will better understand me as a person and others like me:

I am twenty-three years old. When most people think of twenty-three year olds, they think of social butterflies - people who are happy to go out on the weekends and meet tons of new people; who thrive on going to parties and expanding their social circle.

That is not me.

I've never really had an easy time making friends - I was never able to explain why, but I hated being surrounded by people I didn't know, I hated making "small talk" and forced niceties, and I hated the feeling I got when I didn't know what to expect going into a situation. What was worst about this whole situation is that I started to hate myself for not being like everyone else - for lacking that charm that most girls seemed to have naturally. I managed to get by in school because I kept similar friends through my years there, but as you can imagine, this was a NIGHTMARE when I started college. The first year of college is basically a frenzy to meet and make friends with as many people as you can, and I just knew that it was going to be difficult for me.

What I learned later is that I am, by nature, an introvert. And that's OK. A lot of people assume that introverts are terribly shy and lacking social skills, but that's not the case. Most people are extroverts and thrive on the energy from others- they are happiest when surrounded by people. Introverts are exactly the opposite - we get most of our energy and motivation from ourselves.

This makes life really hard sometimes, but the older I get, here are the things I've learned:

Being an introvert does not mean that I'm shy - I am more than happy to meet new people and carry on conversations. The difference is that I MUCH prefer to meet people one on one, or in small groups. Large groups or crowded places really, really overwhelm me and cause me a lot of anxiety. I feel so great after a night out with a small group, but I feel literally sick to my stomach entering a room with a lot of people.

I need time by myself to recharge - while going out and being around people energizes most people, it physically drains me. While I can go out and have fun at a bar or club, I usually spend next day by myself, taking time to relax and work on projects for myself. 

Say yes to things outside your comfort zone, but don't feel bad about saying no if you know you will be miserable - I have had such good times going to parties and events that I felt really nervous about. Things that I expected to be nerve-racking turned out to be great experiences. However, there have been some times when, for example a party I was invited to was full of people I knew I would feel awkward running in to. I felt bad about not going, but I know that it wouldn't have turned out well.

Explaining these thing to people help - since most people haven't been through it, it helps to explain things. Most of my friends have been super understanding when I tell them about these things. I definitely have run into a few instances where people have been a little bit rude or condescending about it, but in general, it's been fine. 

If you have friend who are introverts:
-Don't take it personally if they decline social invitation. It doesn't mean they don't want to hang out with you. It just means they aren't comfortable hanging out in that situation.
-Make time to spend with them one on one. It's the best way of getting to know an introvert.
-Introduce them to people you think they might click with - sometimes meeting people is really difficult, and having that bridge makes things a little easier. DON'T make it obvious, or force it though, because that makes things 100x worse.

If you are an introvert yourself:
-Try saying yes to new things. You might end up having a better time than you thought!
-Make more of an effort to meet new people. Try talking to that nice girl at the coffee shop or that guy that says hi at the concert. They might end up being a new friend!
-Get involved in groups that make it easier to meet people.

After all of my nervousness about my first year of college, I ended up meeting some of my very best friend there. I went out, I had fun, and I got involved in lots of different things that allowed me to meet lots of different people and I had the best time. It can be done. :)

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

Thank you Chelsea for posting this in the first place. From Love, Chelsea Lauren: Honesty Time - On Being An Introvert

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