Taking a break from writing coffee shop reviews, I want to take a moment to write about my experience as an introvert. Introverts are often misunderstood people. There is a misconception that we are stuck up, snobby, unfriendly, shy, and awkward. According to dictionary.com, the definition of an introvert is the following:
a shy, reticent person; a person predominantly concerned with their own thoughts and feelings rather than with external things.
But in reality, being an introvert is far more complicated than that. The best way to identify an introvert/extrovert is by the way they obtain their energy. Extroverts gain their energy in social situations. On the other hand, introverts energize by spending time alone. Other characteristics depend on the individual. I am no psychologist, but I believe people have different levels of introvert-ness. I like to think of myself as 87% introvert.
I am only a bit shy. Since I was little, I loved the thrill and excitement of being on stage. I’ve performed with ballet folklorico, cheerleading, and with my sorority at our semester showcases. A shy person would not have been able to do that. On the other hand, public speaking terrifies me. But that is because I am not a fan of the sound of my voice and (due to English being my second language) I often mispronounce words. Another difference between performing vs public speaking is that you can easily distract yourself in the movements of the choreography. You don’t have to look people in the eye. And when I’ve performed, it’s usually in a group.
I need Small Talk 101. If I don’t talk a lot it is not because I am shy, stuck up, or that I don’t like you. I am just not very good at small talk. I don’t know how to make a conversation about the weather seem interesting or how to respond to certain comments. I have a lot of random thoughts going through my head and I have a lot of strong opinions about certain things, but I don’t share them because I need time to gather my thoughts and compose a clear sentence rather than just rambling to get my point across. I also don’t always like to speak my mind because I get worried about saying awkward or inappropriate things. For instance, one time I was sharing an elevator with a stranger and he says “I always get scared about getting stuck in an elevator.” All I could think to answer was, “oh haha”. What was I supposed to respond to that?! Introverts won’t say anything unless they really have something to say. But get us talking about something we are passionate about and we won’t shut up (in my case, it would be about coffee, politics, tacos or anything Mexico related)!
I get lost in Big Crowds. I am okay with one-on-one conversations because I don’t feel the pressure of making sure I am included in the conversation. I also hate interrupting people and I never know when is the right time for me to share my opinion (I swear, some people never take breathing pauses). When I am surrounded by a large group of people, I tend to get over-powered by the extroverts. Any social situation with more than 5 people makes me anxious and uncomfortable. I feel like I cannot be my true self.
Socializing drains me. I love spending time with my friends and going out. But after having to socialize for several consecutive days, I need to recharge. I get mentally and emotionally exhausted. It’s not that I don’t want to see my friends, I love my friends! I just need time for myself every once in a while. A lot of people don’t understand that.
So in summary, I really don’t hate you, I just don’t know you that well. I am not shy, I just have social anxiety. I am not a loner, I just enjoy spending time by myself sometimes. I am not quiet, I just feel more comfortable with my close, small group of friends. And I don’t think I’m that awkward.