As defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of an introvert is someone who is a shy, reticent person. The opposite is an extrovert, which is described as an outgoing, gregarious and unreserved person.
Over the course of our lives, we learn the meaning of these words, and we see displays of them all around us. We put ourselves into boxes based on who we think we are. If we like to sit inside and read quietly by ourselves, then we give ourselves the title of “introvert.” When we enjoy going to parties and being the center of attention, then we aptly name ourselves an “extrovert.”
From there, we can read books, articles, and take personality quizzes, all for the sake of enlightening our understanding of ourselves. We look for answers to questions like the type of career we should pursue, or the kind of person we should be romantically involved in.
But what if you can’t seem to identify with only one?
Now I’m not saying everyone in the world is one or the other; nothing is that plain and simple. But for the most part, you can easily categorize people under which side of the spectrum they most closely resemble. For me, I’ve always been characterized as an extrovert. I was still chosen to be the leader or speaker for group projects. While on the dance team, I was usually elected co-captain or captain. I always tried out for school plays, and I loved going to new places and meeting new people. Even as an adult, I blend in well at social gatherings, and I can usually find something in common with anyone.
Over the years, I’ve thought of myself as this type of person. If asked to describe my personality, I would always state that I’m an extrovert. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed that I have habits and feelings that are entirely counter-intuitive to the definition of an extrovert.
After long periods of social interaction, I always feel the need to retreat to myself. Even though I adore and love my close friends dearly, I often find myself ignoring their calls because I just don’t feel like conversing. Some of the most enjoyable days I’ve had have been spent alone, going for a run, gardening, and cooking myself a nice meal while I listen to my favorite Podcasts.
So even though I do well in a social gathering and my nature is typically outgoing, I often find my most inner peace and happiness when I’m alone or with one person only. I know I’m not the only one out there that feels this way.
So to my friends and loved ones, this letter is for you:
I like to make jokes at parties that get people laughing. I love to sit and chat with you, catching up on everything life has thrown our way. Enjoying the warm feeling of having others around makes me smile. Helping others, going to social gatherings, sharing stories, experiencing new places with others have always been things that I’ve enjoyed. But I need you to know that that isn’t the only side of me.
So when I don’t answer your phone call, and I text saying I’ll call later, it isn’t because I don’t cherish you or respect our bond. I’m not sad or upset when we go out, and instead of tearing up the dance floor I sit at the bar enjoying a conversation with someone new. When we’re riding in the car together, and I’m not speaking, it isn’t because I’m mad.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that while I have a deep love for social connection – as all humans do – I also find the most solace and peace when I get to have time alone. Don’t take it personally and don’t worry about me.
I know there are others out there that feel this way too. Let’s embrace our outgoing nature, but let’s also not forget to nurture ourselves and the inner peace that we always crave.
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About the Author: Madalyn is a Florida-born girl who has spent the last four years working and basking in the Caribbean sun. Even though she grew up dancing professionally, she is often called a “bull in a china shop” for her clumsy ways. A true lover of the outdoors and new places, Madalyn is always up for an adventure. She has a vast taste for different types of music, often getting caught dancing wherever she is. Writing has always been a passion for Madalyn, and she’s made it her personal life mission to spread the love through words by detailing the eccentricities, from the unconventional to the mundane, of a 20-something just trying to figure out this life, one adventure at a time.