I spent a better part of my life wondering why I didn’t fit in, why I didn’t have many friends, why I found it hard to socialize. I thought at first it was because I was shy. Then I thought maybe it’s because I was boring and don’t have the personality that people easily respond to. For a time I blamed it on our being poor. It’s funny looking back, I have no idea why, because I had friends who were worse off than I was who had a lot more friends than I did.
I was not the talkative kid in the earlier years of my life, my sister who’s a year younger than I am earned that title. I was certainly not a social butterfly in high school, and spent those four years with little to no meaningful interaction with other people my age, save for my best friend Marissa. It didn’t come as a surprise when I did not fare better in college. You could count the number of actual friends I have back then with one hand.
Then I discovered the Internet. I was amazed by the information I was able to get by spending a few hours online. I forwarded funny emails, scoured forums and made myself a Friendster account (later a Facebook account, which I hated at first because why wouldn’t Facebook let me change my background ). Then I stumbled upon personality quizzes. It was fun for me, although not always entirely accurate. But a common result stood out, that I’m an – you guessed it – “introvert”.
Now, if I’m going to put a label for myself, I’d like to know as much about the term as I can, to make sure that it’s 100% me. So I researched the shit out of introversion, and by the end of it all I was able to accept that I indeed have the temperament of an introvert. Not an extrovert or an ambivert. I’m an introvert through and through.
It took a while to get to the point where I am comfortable with my introversion. When I finally embraced the fact that I don’t have social anxiety, that I am not antisocial, that I’m not shy, that I’m not in fact unlikeable, and most importantly, that it is okay to not want to be with other people all the time, I felt a huge weight being lifted off my shoulders. Curiously, I was able to open up more to people, now that I know that it’s not that I’m having trouble opening up to anyone, it’s just that I have to carefully pick who I open up to. I was also able to spend a bit more time with others, when I accepted that I’m not tired of dealing with people, I just need time to reenergize after.
So now it’s something I openly admit. I am an introvert. That’s me, that’s how I am wired. I still love all the extroverts and ambiverts in my life, now more than ever, because I finally understand too that that’s who they are.