Introvert or lonely?

There has been a lot of buzz lately, in newspapers and online, about personality types. Between the excesses of introverted and extroverted there is a plethora of other personalities. Very often we identify with characteristics from both ends of the spectrum.

Woman hiding in a carton boxHowever for me I’m quite clearly on the introverted side of the spectrum and to be honest, I’m pretty pleased about it.

For years I did often wonder about myself. A natural thinker, I’d be caught on many an occasion just staring off into space only to be told off or scolded because people didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I was in fact running everything past my mind. People, places, occasions, conversations. Me doing most of the talking, in my head, because I’d not been able to express myself clearly the first time in that last meeting.

I was a big thinker and found myself wondering why I’d get so utterly drained just being in a social setting. I’d get there all buoyant (even cocky) only to find myself switching off after about 2 hours. Then I realised I was doing it in meetings at work, conferences and even family BBQs. Yet when I was on my own, I felt a real sense of calm and peace within. I could just be me. The time I spent on my own was, and still is, as precious as life itself.

What was going on?

It took a few years for me to finally realise, (with some rather nifty guidance from the internet and a few quiet people I got to converse with over time), that I was a real introvert. I thrive on 1 : 1 interactions, or better still with little or no interaction with people. Yet in a group or in loud settings I could find myself playing the funny, amusing guest that everyone likes to have around, but at my own expense.

It was quite an empowering moment to finally see who I was, and what I was. I’ve read lots of literature on introvert states and personalities and it’s me to a tee, every single time.

And yet so many people I interact with in my daily life find quiet people different, almost disturbing and this should not be the case. Just because someone is quiet, don’t ever expect them to be shy. They just need the right stage, or the right subject and they’ll not stop talking for hours.

We will shy away from the chitter chatter of everyday conversations, instead making way for deep, meaningful, creative endeavours either at the end of our pen or just in our heads. We have no time for needless talk, instead making every word count when it needs to be said. Which in turn makes us the very best of listeners.

We may well be the life and soul of every party, work meeting and restaurant that we ever attend but it doesn’t come without a price. Very often we’ll spend the next day (or two) recovering our limited social batteries in the form of alone time and if you don’t hear from us it’s not because we don’t like you any more, we simply just need that down time.

For other introverts it could be that we find one or two friends enough in our whole world. Everyone else is just too much and that’s okay as well.

Craving time alone

Being alone and feeling lonesome are two completely different spectrums to us. We crave the alone time, never needing anyone’s recognition to spend so much time on our own. We’re not needy, and we don’t mean to be rude by putting you off our lunch engagement for the fifth time in a row. It’s just that, as much as we’d like to see you, the conversation would just take too much out of us right now – but we’re still here for you.

In your office right now you’ll have maybe one, possibly two really introverted people on your floor. You may spot them a mile off because you have never been able to engage them, or when you do engage them you find them far too deep for anything you want to discuss around the water dispenser. They could also be your manager, or your best friend. You may think you know them but they are just trying the best they can to fit into a very loud world weighted towards extroverts.

We are not different to you; we just see the world in a slightly different, rather quiet, way.

About Sophie Cussen

NHS Information Analyst by day and dedicated gardener and chilli grower every spare moment after work. i enjoy taking on new challenges such as jogging. I like writing, hence the blog: The Forget-me-Not Cultivation Blog. Also I love to read (anything I can get my hands on) and take long walks in the countryside with my Jack Russell Terrier and camera. The JRT usually tells me where we’re going! Big into Grow Your Own (GYO), and green energy ideas.