I’ve always been a loner. It’s something that made me incredibly self-conscious when I was younger. Whilst groups of friends would go out and hit busy, noisy clubs I would prefer to stay home on my own. I just had a better time, and despite the fact I felt judged for it, I liked to spend time alone. I enjoyed my own company, and I didn’t feel like I was missing out one iota.
But over time I was hit with stereotypical phrases: You’re boring. You never go out. You’re so anti-social. All you ever do is stay at home. These words made me feel as though I was boring, I was anti-social and there was something wrong with me for not doing these things. But these words didn’t magically make me want to go to a crowded club and pay $15 a cocktail. So you know what I did? I stopped listening to what people said, or caring about what they thought. I was content in the way I lived my life and so I continued to do what made me happy and I stayed away from those people.
But there is still so much misconception with it comes to wanting to be alone. There’s a huge difference between being a loner and being lonely. Introverted types that find comfort in being alone aren’t lonely. We’re happy people. We don’t choose to spend time alone because we’re unhappy souls who shun human contact. It also has nothing to do with shyness. People often think that if you like to be alone than you’re either depressed or shy.
Here are 8 things you should know about introverts.
1. They like people
The first thing that people assume if you like to spend time alone is that you hate all of humanity. That’s simply not true. I love people and enjoy meeting new people. I can hold a conversation with a stranger; I worked in retail for almost ten years and I never once struggled with the social aspect.
I can embrace new people. But when it comes down to the crunch, I feel just as comfortable with a selected group of friends as I would sitting alone in a café. It’s not that I necessarily crave the solitude; I don’t go out with friends and wish to be alone. But I’m just as comfortable spending time alone.
2. They PREFER QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
Being an introvert doesn’t mean having no friends. It means having genuine friends. My friendship circle is quite small but I maintain relationships with those people in it. When I was younger it would be frustrating for people when I didn’t respond to messages or commit to making plans. Yet as I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed meaningful friendships that I invest the time and effort into on a regular basis.
I struggled more when I worked in retail. I was suddenly surrounded by crowds of new people and often people would, after getting to know me, confide that their first impression of me was wrong. They thought that I was standoffish and rude, but the reality is that I don’t crave friends. I have friends. So I didn’t treat every new person I met as a potential friend; they were simply a work colleague. It takes a lot for me to trust a person, yet when I do, I’m very open and I give my all to maintaining that friendship. I’m a very good judge of character and consider it a huge compliment when someone invests their trust in me, too.
3. They’re open-minded
People that are quiet or reserved are quite often labelled as being judgemental. However, most of the time, this simply isn’t the case. In fact, I consider myself to be incredibly open-minded. Nothing shocks me and I’m always open to new ideas and thoughts. I’ve met quite a few outgoing people who were the complete opposite, so whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, how you react really depends more on who you are as a person as opposed to how you choose to spend your time.
4. They’RE EASILY OVER-STIMULATED
You’ll find that people who are introverts are sensitive to noise. For me I’m a sufferer of misophonia so noise itself is something that can at times be torturous. If I’m around too many people and there are various conversations taking place I grow agitated and get the typical fight or flight sensation. The same with noises such as people who eat loudly or breathe heavily. Some days I’m more distracted than on others; often I wont even notice the noise, or if I do, it’s tolerable. At its worst, it feels like nails on a chalkboard—unbearable.
Loud noises can also become painful. If I’m walking along the road and a car speeds past, the sudden loud noise of their car can make me jump and feel momentarily angry. The same with music. If I have no control over the volume of music or the television, I often grow uncomfortable.
Those that prefer solitude often have a default brain pathway that is different to those who enjoy more of a social scene. This means introverted people can quickly become overwhelmed by too much intensity, chaos and noise. Quite often we will be compelled to withdraw to a quiet room where we can find a moment of sanctuary from the over-stimulation that we feel.
5. THEY’RE GREAT LISTENERS
People are often quick to make assumptions that an introvert isn’t interested in what you have to say, and is therefore a bad listener, when the contrary is true. As an introvert, I find that I often listen more than I talk. I like to hear people speak and tell stories, more so than I do telling them. I process a lot in my head, as opposed to out loud, so I may not always talk aloud but that doesn’t mean I’m not listening. In fact I like to encourage people to talk things through and pride myself on my ability to help them find resolutions.
6. They’RE NOT NEUROTIC
There’s often a misconception that introverted people are neurotic. Those words associated with being neurotic are often moody, anxious, worrisome, fearful and depressed; these are words you’d also use to describe a person that was lonely. There is a vast difference. Being an introvert doesn’t mean that you’re plagued with anxiety or that you’re depressed. In fact, introverted people are at peace with their inner selves, and it can grow tiresome being labelled something that you know you’re not.
To understand the difference between an introvert and a neurotic personality is to put it into a situation where the difference is obvious. Imagine being asked for drinks after work. This is the difference in thinking between the two:
Neurotic: They probably just feel sorry for me. I’m sure they don’t like me.
Introverted: That’s a sweet offer, but I’d much rather just go home.
7. TheY ENJOY SOLITUDE
As an introvert, your idea of a good time is most likely something that other people may deem boring. But you enjoy your hobbies and interests, and investing time in them. I’m a huge fan of reading and I also love to watch films, both of which I prefer to do alone. I like to savor them without distractions. I feel recharged and happy after watching a really good film, or spending a few hours curled up reading.
That’s not to say that an introverted person wants to be alone all the time. I work from home so often, by the time my family starts coming home from work, I grow restless and unfocused until they’re home. I’m a huge family person and I love being surrounded by my family and interacting with them. Some of my favorite moments are family gatherings; I never hesitate whether or not to go. For me, family time is the best type of therapy, and any chance to surround myself with them all, I grab on to it.
The thing you’ll learn about an introvert is that, after a long day of social activity, they will likely want to retreat to a quiet place. After a family outing or being out with a friend, I like to come home and to chill in my bedroom and have a little me time. It’s the perfect balance for me.
8. TheY’re OUTGOING
Enjoying solitude doesn’t mean you lack the fun gene. I think the one thing that my friends’ find most frustrating is the fact that I don’t want to go out more, because when I do, I have so much fun. I have a good sense of humor and love to laugh as well as make people laugh, so the fact I’m not overtly social is confusing for some. I’ve often been described as an outgoing person, which can seem contradictory to being an introvert, but the fact of the matter is that the two don’t necessarily link. I like to spend time alone, yes. I like to have fun, yes. I still go out; I still do things. It’s about finding activities that you enjoy. I would never place myself in a nightclub packed with people because I simply don’t enjoy it. But I would take a trip to the cinema or go for a nice meal with a friend because for me, that is enjoyable, and though it may not be a regular occurrence, when I do do it, I enjoy myself tremendously.
“A little hibernation is good for the mind.” – Michaela Chung
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