The Bubbled World of an Introvert
Yes I am an introvert and no, what you think about it doesn't matter. What I have to say is not drawn from articles skimmed over google or from perusing scholarly articles written by psychologists. It is in fact from someone who knows what it is to be an introvert
Introversion is largely misunderstood. This is mainly because the world has understood the mind of an introvert from the perspective of psychologists who themselves are not introverts. We do not let you peek into our minds because, well we're introverts. Here are some facts about us socially awkward beings.
We sit in a corner and are too shy to speak. WRONG!The first myth I'd like to debunk is that introverts sit quietly and never speak to people. This is very wrong. We do not sit quietly in a corner when in a social situation. Here's what we really do: we speak to everyone just like everybody else, but in our minds we're hoping the conversation ends soon so we can go back to our thoughts. When I confess to being an introvert people say "But you're standing here talking to us right now?!". Well yes I am, but I'd rather not be! Introverts do not lock themselves away from the world. They do not isolate their being to a lonely bar stool in the club. They will interact, mingle, laugh and joke around but the underlying fact is, they'd rather not. Extroverts draw energy from social synergy, they get energized by communication. Not introverts. Social interactions drain us of our energy. It is this fact you need to understand, we interact but we'd rather not. We believe energy is limited and choose not to expend it unnecessarily. This does not mean we don't use it at all. We do, but only with people we have truly accepted.
We live in a metaphorical bubbleThe word 'introvert' has a very simple meaning that actually defines us exactly. Coined by Carl Jung, an 'introvert' is a person whose motives and actions are directed inwards. Now this in no way means we are selfish beings concerned with only ourselves. It simply means we enjoy the company of our minds better than anything else. We build a bubble around ourselves, and it is a tiny one. We are most comfortable within this bubble than the giant oyster that is the outside world. We like to contemplate, formulate, argue and make astute observations but all of this only within our minds. For some it's the fear of judgement, for some it's the fear of being noticed, for some it's the fear of being misunderstood and for some it's just a matter of minding one's own business. We would rather explore the world with the best company in the world: Ourselves.
Now this does not mean we are loners. We do make friends, we do enjoy the outdoors, we do indulge in romance, but the list of people we enjoy all of it with is very, very limited.
People do make it into the bubbleWe do not hate people. Some of us even voluntarily talk to everyone around. But we do not form bonds easily. We just relate to very few people and do not like feigning interest just to seem likable. There is a careful screening process that you are going through in our minds. We need to know we can trust you, we need to know our personalities match, we need to know we have common interests. We do all of this with a smile on our face so you don't know it's happening. That being said, introverts are definitely loyal friends once you're accepted into the bubble. They also let loose and have genuine fun when with the people they truly like. We may have a large contact list but there will be only a handful of people we consider our own.
Once we have accepted someone into our bubble, we let our hair down and free up. But remember, it's just as easy to be kicked out of the bubble, as difficult it was to get in. If we feel we are unwanted, we are gone.
The secret behind talkative introvertsNow a lot of you might have come across people who claim to be introverts but seem to be very chatty. I have been accused of the same. People say "you're in no way an introvert, you blabber all the time". Here's the truth behind us excessive talkers: If you pay attention to what we speak, you will realize it is utter gibberish. Irrelevant stories, unintelligible talk, illogical parodies and for most of the time ill timed humor is what resonates from our vocal chords. The reason is very simple really. We suffer from social anxiety yes, but what troubles us more in a gathering is awkward silence. When I'm in a group that isn't speaking, I'm suddenly conscious of the fact that I'm visible to these people. Introverts like being lost in a crowd, not put in the spotlight. We would rather be listening to a bunch of people speak while formulating deep counter arguments in our minds and leaving them there, than have to speak ourselves. But when there is silence, we feel anxious. We want the others to start interacting again so we can retreat unnoticed into our own bubble. It is this anxiety that causes us to start speaking unnecessarily. We will continue to speak until the rest of the group has latched on to one of the mindless baits we have provided and continue the banter. Mind you, we are not manipulating the conversation, this is just a defense mechanism that we have to employ in order to continue enjoying our time out in a group.
That being said, within the right setting and in a circle of people we consider our friends, we are very eloquent and more than willing to share our thoughts and make genuine conversation.
We love to learn and are intent listenersWe love learning and listening to people speak is the greatest way to learn. Every person has a niche, something they are passionate about and have a lot of knowledge on. We love listening to people talk about informative topics because we enjoy soaking up knowledge. This makes us good listeners. But remember, we are the judges of what topics are informative and what aren't, so yea we're picky here as well and different introverts have different areas of interest.
When interested, we give you our complete, undivided attention, make sure we understand everything you have to say and sometimes even let you in on what opinions we have about what you just shared.
We would rather write than speakHere's another accusation that has been doled out on me, especially over a text conversation: "You're not an introvert, we have been texting for days and you have a lot to say."
OK firstly, introverts are not empty in the head people who have nothing to say. On the contrary, our minds have been overclocked since birth and there is in fact an ocean of thoughts and ideas we'd like to discuss, but only with the right people.
Secondly, the reason why we're a tad more open over test messages or email is because we have the option of ending the conversation when we please, and this privilege to walk away allows us to loosen the noose a little. Don't be surprised if you set up a date with an introvert over text messages and a completely different person shows up at dinner(by completely different I mean emotionally and not physically. If it's the latter, run and don't look back).
How to deal with an IntrovertLet me make one thing very clear, the more you chase us, the further away from you we will run. As I've mentioned before, we believe in spending energy only when required because our pool is limited and easily exhausted. When we are badgered with unwanted affection, we feel threatened. Smothering us gives us the signal you're after our energy, we go on the defensive, and before you know it, we are nowhere to be found.
You need to allow an introvert to feel comfortable. You need to have genuine interest, and if you don't why the hell are you around anyway? Once we feel you're OK, we will extend the boundaries of our bubble to envelop you and trust me, you will know when you're in.