Friday, August 9, 2013

The Social Introvert

"How do you recharge?"

I was confused by his question. "What?"

"Are you energized by people or do you have to find alone time to recharge?"

It was the first time someone had put it that way. "Oh. Definitely alone time."

"Then you're more introverted than you think."

I was painfully shy as a kid -- and I mean it was painful for both me and the people around me. I didn't talk to my teachers till halfway through second grade. Friendly strangers made me cry. In public, it was my more outgoing little sister that grabbed attention. As is often the case, I did get more comfortable over time, but then something would change and I would dive right back into my shell.

College was a different story. I, awkward and nerdy, resolved to make friends immediately in this strange new place ... and I found it to be suprisingly easy among these people who happened to be so much more like me than my high school classmates had been. Suddenly, there were plenty of places to go and people to talk to, and I left my shell in the dust behind me.

As much as I loved my new surroundings and friends, though, I kept finding excuses to wander off alone. I'd hunker down in the library for hours, explore downtown Rapid on foot, or wander the bookstore on the other side of town. By the time I got back to school, I was always ready for a crowd again.

One night at a committee meeting of some kind, we took a personality quiz ... and mine had me baffled. It had me listed as an introvert, a label I thought I had shaken. In my confusion, the leader clarified for me.

It wasn't about how outgoing or shy a person was, he said. It was about whether being in a group energized you -- or drained you. And me? I loved being in groups and talking to strangers, but eventually I needed to escape the crowds or I'd lose my mind.

Then one day, I got a job that plunged me directly into a crowd five out of seven days a week and talking to strangers and telling stories to anyone who wants to hear them. And at the end of the day, I get to go back to my quiet house and hang out with myself.

For the most part, this sustains my introverted self. But after awhile, the well runs dry and it's time for drastic measures. Maybe something like a semi-solo road trip so I can get back to being me.

Something a bit like this...

Yeah ... Yeah. I like that.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

Talk about hitting the highlights!! Enjoy your trip.