Hi, my name is Olivia, and I’m an introvert. What does that mean? Here’s what the dictionary has to say about that:
in – tro – vert (noun) a shy, reticent person. (adjective) another term for introverted. Derived in the 17th century from the Latin introvertere, or “to turn from the inside.”
Did that help? No? Yeah, me either. Like most of today’s hot-button topics, “introvert” is something of a hot potato: It gets thrown around a lot, but we rarely pause to dicuss into what it actually means. Even me, someone whose spent the past 18 years as an introvert (and probably just broke the record for how many times to use that word in a single intro), is just barely scratching the surface of what being introverted implies for the rest of my being. What I can say, however, is that being an introvert has an indelible impact on my day-to-day existence, from how I interact with others to how I feel about myself. Which is why I’m sitting here, writing the first post in The Introvert Diaries, a monthly-ish series in which I will share my experiences, realizations, and advice about introverted living. Through these posts, I hope to give a more human quality to that noun we’ve all been using. In other words, I’m holding on to the hot potato.
Like most beginnings, entry no. 1 is meant to introduce the series and get down to the basics of my introverted experience. Before we dive in, however, I want to clarify that my experiences are just that: mine and mine alone. I cannot speak for everyone, introverted or otherwise, nor do I intend to do so. Cool? Cool. So let’s get started.
. . .
In the picture above, you see me, an introvert. To hear most experts explain it, to be “introverted” means that your derive energy from time alone as opposed to interactions with others. In my case, that definition pretty much holds true. I am most at ease when in the company of my bestest buddies, aka me, myself, and I. I am easily exhausted by social situations, and need to regroup with a (ideally) proportional amount of solitude. Today, for example, I am taking “time off” after a chaotic couple days of work and a night out with family. For me, this practice embodies a term I’m trying to embrace in my everyday life, and will continue to come up throughout the Introvert Diaries: b – a – l – a – n – c – e.
But here’s where we run into the biggest misconception about introverted living, or the idea that introversion = social anxiety. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might’ve picked up on my mentions of my own struggles with carious social stresses. For a long time, I believed that my introverted ways were a negative symptom of my daily battle, and derided myself accordingly. It was only after some much-needed research that I realized that my introversion was not a bad habit that needed fixing, but is actually one of the truest, most ingrained facts of my personality. For more on this part of my experience, stay tuned for a more in-depth post about my introversion and social anxiety and how and where they do/do not correlate.
With that clarification (no doubt that first of many) out of the way, back to real talk, or what it looks like when my introversion gets the better of me. As I mentioned above, I’m finding that the key to life in all areas is balance and listening with your inner voice— the nice one, that is. I say the “nice one,” because all too often it’s the not-so-nice voice who shouts louder. In the context of being introverted, my not-so-nice voice likes to berate me for taking breaks, for not using every free minute to reach out to a friend and have plans every night after work. Lately I’ve been a lot more focused on finding the sweet spot between when to push myself and when to rest, mostly because I really, really don’t like how I feel and act when my social energy hits rock bottom. Without getting too far into it, socially depleted Olivia is kinda nasty. She cries a lot, says stuff she doesn’t mean, and is in general a depressing human to be around. Obviously, those vibes are the last thing I want to put out in the world, so like I said, balance, balance, balance.
I don’t want to write too much and totally inundate this intro with too much information, so I’m going to sign off here. There’s so much more I want to explore and share, though, so you can expect new “entries” every month or so. In the future, I’ll be diving deeper into socializing as an introvert, what the heck is up with “alone time,” introverted living in college, and more! As always, if there are any specific topics you’d like to see addressed drop them in the comments or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
That’s it for today, readers. This introvert is off to enjoy some “me time.” 😉