Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Quintessential Introvert

I started writing this blog post in the extemp prep room at the Santa Clara University Invitational tournament as I wait two hours for the next round to start. Extemp is a solitary event in speech and debate, where the speaker isn't even in the same room as the other competitors at the same time. I am far away from the noisy Benson Center and also a distance away from other people in the prep room. For some this might be a punishment, being so far away from other people for such a long period of time, but I'm ok with it. In fact, I enjoy it. I am an introvert.

I've been wanting to do this post for a very long time. This blog is called "The Quintessential Introvert" because it is a phrase that describes who I am as a person more than anything else. I am often told by friends that I am one of the most introverted people they know. For the most part, I like being an introvert. Being an introvert simply means that I derive energy from being alone. I can socialize with people, but I need recharge time to replenish my energy afterwards, otherwise I get very frustrated. I can speak to a large audience, but I can't make extended small talk to save my life. In the last year, I feel like my experiences with depression "purified" my introversion, and also helped me accept it as a part of myself. I speak for myself with these explanations, but hopefully fellow introverts can relate and have a clearer understanding of what it means to be an introvert.

Firstly, like many things, introversion and extroversion is a spectrum, much like gender or orientation spectrums. Someone might be more towards the middle and not care about the intro/extroversion spectrum at all, and that's ok. Personally, I don't like labelling myself according to a lot of spectrums because having to conform to the perceptions of a label can be very confusing and limiting, but on the I/E spectrum, I fall so heavily towards the "Introvert" side that it has become a defining part of my personality.

There are a lot of misconceptions about introverts. I won't go into all of them – there are plenty of easily accessible articles that do – but one that really annoys me is that introverts don't like people. This comes from the fact that small talk is very awkward for an introvert, and as a result, introverts can seem cold and unfriendly when you ask them, "How was your day?" Nevertheless, this does not mean that introverts don't like being around people. I still enjoy being invited out with my friends, but there's just a certain amount of it that I can take before I get drained. An introvert is a great listener, but in a three way conversation, an introvert may prefer to simply listen while the other two talk, which can feel awkward for other people. An introvert might not see the need to contribute to a conversation, because they don't have anything particularly deep and meaningful to mention. Introverts are more likely to prefer authentic and sincere conversation on a topic they are interested in, with a person they trust and has an equal interest in such topics. Idle chit chat is boring to an introvert, but introverts will be very involved in a topic of discussion that they are passionate about.

On the Myers-Briggs type indicator (MBTI) I am an INTJ. I would be lying if I said I didn't care at all about the special rare unicorn aspect of it. Female INTJs are only 0.8% of the population, which is pretty cool, but there are also some downsides. I cannot retain a lot of friends at once, so to the ones who I do have close personal relationships with, I can get very "clingy." Also, because I have no patience for unnecessary social constructs, I have really bad social skills, and mess up a lot of communication because people think I am disinterested. Unless I make a very conscientious effort at adding emotion and interest to my words, I risk coming across as cold.

That being said, a lot of the time, I do get annoyed at everyone, and would prefer not to talk to them. But then again, I do like having people to talk about when it comes to interesting topics, but then because I can't talk to people to get to know them, I don't have a lot of people to talk to. It's not that I don't talk to people because I think they're "dumb," but rather, I don't find it worth it to pursue a relationship with someone unless they have interesting thoughts to offer. Then again, it's quite rare to find a person who does; if it were completely up to me, and I didn't have any friends I felt obligated to keep connections with, I would be wholly nonverbal. However the ideal lifestyle/relationship is just one friend relationship with a mutual deep sense of understanding, trust, and loyalty. Though most of my friends at the moment are very extroverted, I would like to eventually achieve just one introvert friend (I think, I don't know how that would be, because I've never been friends with someone as introverted as I am).

Sometimes, we just like to be in a world alone.

If you have an introvert friend, please be kind and take care of them! They might seem aloof at first, but once you get to know them, they can be wonderful friends! This article explains it much better than I could.

There are tons of nice comics that explain introversion, but I like this one a lot:

This post isn't as great as I thought it would be (a lot lot lot of nonsense rambling, but oh well, I was tired). ◊

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