The Introvert Lifestyle

Yesterday I met up with my best friend to go out and run some errands. One of the first things he asked me when I walked through the door was what I had done the day before on my birthday. My reply was very simple… “Nothing”.

My friend was aghast. “You didn’t see ANYONE on your birthday?!” he said with genuine surprise. Being an extreme “people-person”, my friend couldn’t understand why on earth anyone wouldn’t be around a million people on their birthday. In fact, though he didn’t say it I knew it, he thought that act was borderline depressant. Honestly though, I don’t see it that way.

The truth is that I’m an introvert. I found this out after some introspection following reading this article that my sister posted on her facebook. I’ve always known to some extent this was true because I don’t feel particularly different either way if I’m around a large group of people or by myself. I’d prefer to be by myself, not because of a tendency to brood or a necessity to feel sorry for myself, but when I’m alone I do some very productive things.

For instance on my birthday I slept in late, treated myself to a good lunch, cleaned my apartment, went grocery shopping and spent a relaxing night working on some of my writing and software development projects. To me, that was an absolutely perfect day. I couldn’t have gotten those things done if I had my entire click of friends around me singing happy birthday (we had actually done that already the day before). When I explained this to my friend, who is a far to the scale extrovert, he was horrified. When I explained it to his wife, who is more middle of the spectrum, when we all had dinner she shook her head in approval. I love my friends dearly, but I don’t always want to be around them.

In fact, as described in the article, I find most interaction with people to be draining. I by no means am socially inept, as most people I know will tell, but spending the time around people being “on” takes a lot out of me. The rule of thumb described in the article of 2 hours of alone time for every hour with people seems about right to me. Even a large extended family reunion is something that after participating in for a number of hours leaves me wanting to just go home and go to sleep. This however does not apply to my immediate family, who I never seem to get tired of being around.

The crux of this is that yes, I like to be alone. Is it all of the time? No, not at all, just most of the time. But remember that just because someone wants to be alone doesn’t mean that they are depressed or angry or socially inept, it could simply be that they bigger and better things on their mind. Personally I enjoy a good streak of productivity, not just as it relates to work but to my other interests as well, interests that don’t always benefit from a constant stream of people vying for attention.

I think the last section of the article sums it all up best:

How can I let the introvert in my life know that I support him and respect his choice? First, recognize that it’s not a choice. It’s not a lifestyle. It’s an orientation.

Second, when you see an introvert lost in thought, don’t say “What’s the matter?” or “Are you all right?”

Third, don’t say anything else, either.

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