Adventures of an introvert in an extroverted world
Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 16:09
Is your ideal night spent amidst a room busting alive with chatting, mingling and music or curled up in your footie ‘jammies with a beloved book and cat purring on your lap? I chose the latter scenario.
My name is Tessa and I am an introvert. Being an introvert in an extroverted world can be like swimming against the current. It’s been nearly one hundred years since famed personality psychologist Carl Jung explained the difference between extroverts and introverts. Yet the two types often misunderstand each other.
Also, there remains a gravitational force in our culture tugging us towards extroversion. Extroverts are the movers, shakers, the politicians, celebrities and socialites of the world. Extroversion is encouraged and considered the norm. People constantly crave to be connected through social media, texting, or if adventurous, even in person. Meanwhile, introverts can be considered cool, aloof or downright rude for declining invitations to parties or not wanting to engage in small talk.
For extroverts, people are the spark plugs that ignite their fiber of their beings. Many people thrive and flourish at parties or social gatherings, if you are fancy. Others like me spend the entire night of the aforementioned social gatherings plotting a quiet, careful escape.
Back in my “youth,” I was an expert at slithering out of social situations when overwhelmed. The next day my friends would inquire as to where I disappeared to. My other trademark introvert/ passive aggressive move was dubbed the “look of death” by a former roommate. A textbook extrovert, he would burst into my room un-announced wanting to catch up and hang out. After a busy day of school and working, I had overdosed on people and would allegedly shoot my infamous “look of death.”
It is embarrassingly hilarious to reflect upon and think about how much I did not accept myself so I would use passive aggressive or isolationist tactics to get in my prized alone time. These days I have learned to accept my introversion and that I thrive better in small social situations.
Obviously not all situations can be avoided and part of life is learning to be flexible and adaptable in different situations. For example, I cannot really call up my cousin and say, “So I guess I’m not going to your wedding. I know it’s your special day, I’m just not in a people mood.” That would be ridiculous. It is all about striking a balance.
Now I generally do not attend large gatherings unless entirely necessary, or else I may leave early. I usually get questions with my early departure, such as, “Oh you are leaving already?” or better yet, “What else do you have to do?” I smile, duck out without a shred of guilt because I feel completely deflated even when I enjoyed myself. I simply need to take refuge within my thoughts, a book, writing or playing bass without having to worry about others.
Famed introverted “Peanuts” cartoonist Charles Shultz explained it best in one of his comic strips, which is hanging on my fridge. In the comic, Snoopy is lying atop his doghouse thinking, “I’ve become allergic to people.” I am not shy. I do not hate people. I just get an allergy if I spend too much time with them and the only antidote is quiet alone time, footie ‘jammies and all.
Tessa is a senior majoring in English.