Introversion (& Why I Blog)

I said in my about page that I’m very introverted.  This has always been a defining characteristic of my personality, but I don’t think it’s one a lot of people understand if they aren’t the same way.  It isn’t that I dislike being around other people (although, if I’m being honest, I sometimes do feel that way — except for a small number of close friends).  For me, the significant aspect of being introverted is simply that being around other people, especially in social situations, causes me to expend energy.  For extroverts, they actually gain energy and feel re-charged by being around other people.  Social situations are nourishing for them, but highly taxing for introverts like me.

This fact causes me to wonder: according to science, energy can neither be created nor destroyed. So the energy I expend within the closed system of a party must go somewhere.  Likewise, the energy the extroverts gain must come from somewhere.  Surely this means that the extroverts must be sucking the energy out of the introverts like emotional vampires! American society tends to reward extrovert behavior while marginalizing introvert behavior, but perhaps if this dark and sinister (and clearly very scientific) truth came to light we’d have to rethink things.

All joking aside, the most important thing for me to know in times of stress is that in order to refuel myself mentally and emotionally, I have to have time alone.  It is an absolute must. Whether it is spending an hour or two in front of the television or with a good book or going out for a solo run, I have to make time for myself. At this time of the year — the beginning of the holiday season and the busy end of the University semester — when I find myself absolutely bone-tired exhausted and looking for a place to hide, I know it’s time for some quality solitude.

That’s something I’d always sort of intuited about myself, but oh what a great relief it was to read that this is a known and agreed upon fact of the introvert-extrovert continuum.  My own personality, according to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (INTJ), may be almost freakishly rare, but there’s nothing wrong with my freakishness. I’ve gone through years of people telling me to “open up” and “get out more,” but now I have science on my side when I say that’s the exact opposite of what I need to do to feel good.

While all my extroverted friends may think it seems lame or sad to be spending the evening alone, it really isn’t, for me.  So when I repeatedly turn down social invitations, please don’t be offended. Having a few hours alone is just what I need to be able to operate at full capacity in the classroom and the office the next day. It isn’t that I don’t love you, you sick emotional vampires!

This all brings me to the following point: blogging is the perfect compromise for me.  I get to live mainly within my own weird interior world while also interacting with others — namely you there. You there with the face! Look at me being all interactive and engaging with you!

Tonight I am going to settle in at home, watch the Civil War game (GO DUCKS!) and have a glass of wine while my brain re-charges.  If you want to continue the conversation, though, please post a reply in the comments below.  I’d love to know: are you an introvert or extrovert? How do you deal with social situations vs. alone time?

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13 thoughts on “Introversion (& Why I Blog)

  1. clarabella December 3, 2009 / 1:09 pm

    Funny, I never think of you as being introverted, but perhaps that’s because I am sucking up all your energy! Hey, if I’m an emotional vampire, I should at least get to be a little sparkly, right? Oh well. I KNOW I’m an extrovert, but I need alone time too, especially these days with the kid and all. But I do love a good night out & I do get charged up around other people. Interesting.
    Since Philly is an introvert, I have become adapt at the “letting alone time,” as I call it. It took me years, honestly, not to get my feelings hurt when he just wanted to be alone. Now that we live together (and he’ll never TRULY be alone again, bwahahaha), I know not to take it personally. Hmm, that makes me wonder if I’m sucking unhealthy amounts of energy from Philly. Let me know when those scientists get back to you about this theory. Maybe that’s why he’s so exhausted most of the time.

  2. clarabella December 3, 2009 / 1:10 pm

    That should be “adept” not “adapt.” Obv.

  3. Kate December 3, 2009 / 1:11 pm

    I’m just testing leaving a comment here. It’s annoying to have to use the short post excerpt instead of posting the entire thing on the front page, but the special area for the first post is too small — if I put the entire post up there, it overflows its area. SUPER annoying. May have to switch to a less buggy theme if I can’t fix it.

  4. Kate December 3, 2009 / 2:46 pm

    Holy crap, I think the theme is fixed! I just have to shrink the font size on the blog title, which I will do at home where I can use a better CSS editor.

    If no more bugs turn up, I can keep using it. This cheers me, because it is so pretty!

    C – I think the reason you never think of me as being introverted is that you’re one of the select group of close friends that I don’t find it mentally taxing to be around. What I was reading today about this says that we introverted weirdos always have a small group of people like that, and everyone else — the vast majority — are not part of it. So you are special!

  5. Kate December 3, 2009 / 2:47 pm

    Crappity crap. I THOUGHT I fixed the theme — the top post was displaying perfectly, but the comment “submit” button somehow vanished. I will have to try editing again. Why can’t people just build beautiful, free themes that work perfectly? Grumble.

  6. Kate December 3, 2009 / 5:21 pm

    WHO IS MY BITCH? COMMENTS.PHP IS MY BITCH.

  7. Timothy December 5, 2009 / 12:36 pm

    COMMENTS.PHP is a worthy adversary.

    Regarding introverts in America, a friend of mine puts it thusly: America – where the introverts are extroverts and the extroverts are performance artists.

  8. TimT December 5, 2009 / 3:22 pm

    I think they’re made us do those tests at school. I ended up with the label creative introvert which I reluctantly conceded sounded a bit like me. Is it any wonder I took up blogging?

  9. Kate December 5, 2009 / 3:53 pm

    Timothy – “Performance artists” – indeed! I like that line.

    Tim T – I think “Creative Introvert” suits you just fine. I’d call that a compliment.

  10. MC Etcher December 5, 2009 / 5:16 pm

    I’m an INTJ too! My wife is an INFJ and we get along very well despite/because of this.

    I wonder if extroverted people seem to be energized by being in a crowd situation because they aren’t happy alone – so getting to let out all their pent up need to socialize is actually where the rush comes from.

    I would be perfectly happy in some distant arctic weather station, just the good lady wife, plus the kitty cat and I.

  11. Molly December 7, 2009 / 8:36 am

    I guess I’m an introvert! I always associated introversion with shyness, and I’m not particularly shy so though I’ve taken a few of those quizzes that assign four letters to one’s personality, I never paid much attention. But the needing alone time, the finding social activities exhausting (I’m never so excited as when I have a weekend completely blank on my calendar), the having a small group of people that are an exception to the exhaustingness: it all describes me perfectly.

    Hmmm…maybe I should blog.

  12. Kate December 7, 2009 / 9:48 pm

    MC – I think a distant arctic weather station sounds about perfect.

    M – Sounds like you’re an introvert all right! You should start a blog. It’s the perfect introvert hobby, I think.

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