I said in my about page that I’m very introverted. This has always been a defining characteristic of my personality, but I don’t think it’s one a lot of people understand if they aren’t the same way. It isn’t that I dislike being around other people (although, if I’m being honest, I sometimes do feel that way — except for a small number of close friends). For me, the significant aspect of being introverted is simply that being around other people, especially in social situations, causes me to expend energy. For extroverts, they actually gain energy and feel re-charged by being around other people. Social situations are nourishing for them, but highly taxing for introverts like me.
This fact causes me to wonder: according to science, energy can neither be created nor destroyed. So the energy I expend within the closed system of a party must go somewhere. Likewise, the energy the extroverts gain must come from somewhere. Surely this means that the extroverts must be sucking the energy out of the introverts like emotional vampires! American society tends to reward extrovert behavior while marginalizing introvert behavior, but perhaps if this dark and sinister (and clearly very scientific) truth came to light we’d have to rethink things.
All joking aside, the most important thing for me to know in times of stress is that in order to refuel myself mentally and emotionally, I have to have time alone. It is an absolute must. Whether it is spending an hour or two in front of the television or with a good book or going out for a solo run, I have to make time for myself. At this time of the year — the beginning of the holiday season and the busy end of the University semester — when I find myself absolutely bone-tired exhausted and looking for a place to hide, I know it’s time for some quality solitude.
That’s something I’d always sort of intuited about myself, but oh what a great relief it was to read that this is a known and agreed upon fact of the introvert-extrovert continuum. My own personality, according to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (INTJ), may be almost freakishly rare, but there’s nothing wrong with my freakishness. I’ve gone through years of people telling me to “open up” and “get out more,” but now I have science on my side when I say that’s the exact opposite of what I need to do to feel good.
While all my extroverted friends may think it seems lame or sad to be spending the evening alone, it really isn’t, for me. So when I repeatedly turn down social invitations, please don’t be offended. Having a few hours alone is just what I need to be able to operate at full capacity in the classroom and the office the next day. It isn’t that I don’t love you, you sick emotional vampires!
This all brings me to the following point: blogging is the perfect compromise for me. I get to live mainly within my own weird interior world while also interacting with others — namely you there. You there with the face! Look at me being all interactive and engaging with you!
Tonight I am going to settle in at home, watch the Civil War game (GO DUCKS!) and have a glass of wine while my brain re-charges. If you want to continue the conversation, though, please post a reply in the comments below. I’d love to know: are you an introvert or extrovert? How do you deal with social situations vs. alone time?