“Party next at my house next Saturday! I invited everyone!” That was my friend, as excited as can be, letting us know about her birthday celebration. When I heard those words, I imagined the whole scene: drinks, snacks, music, and people talking loudly and laughing as if there were no tomorrow.
The few times that I had attended parties like that (always motivated by the need to prove something), I got dizzy, bored, tired, and irritated. Voices in my head despairingly begged me to get out of there as soon as possible. I hated when that happened. It was a reminder that being me was “wrong” and that my level of fun was practically nil.
This time it had to be different. It took me a whole week to prepare for the party. I did Internet research on different ways to start a conversation. I imagined myself dancing around, talking to strangers, and laughing loudly. I swore I would make myself have fun and be like the rest. I was going to enjoy this freaking event.
Well, I didn’t. Everybody was there, in their element, and I stayed in a corner of the living room watching everyone with my eyes wide open, almost scared.
Later in the night, a friend who always loved to stand out and make me feel like an alien approached me. She pointed out to as many people as possible that I wasn’t enjoying myself. I responded that I was, but I don’t enjoy places with this much noise. Stupid. Why did I say that? She answered: “I do. And when I get older, I want to remember that when I was young I knew how to have fun.”
Her words hurt me so much. I had always thought that I wasn’t good enough. That I was not at the level of the other girls. This “having fun” thing always made me feel inferior. I thought guys would like other girls more than me because they had something I didn’t: they were happy and had fun.
I, on the other hand, was always quiet, and “quiet” seemed to be a synonym for dull. And now, here was this girl with a big smile who was making me feel self-conscious—and enjoying it.
I felt miserable. Again. A failure. I was embarrassed that I had taken my time to look for information on how to act “normal”—as if there was a guide out there on how to genuinely have fun.
It’s Called Introversion
Many years later, I realized that feeling dissatisfied in a crowded room was not a disorder. I learned that I didn’t have to love parties in order to be normal. What is normal, after all? To be like the rest? To follow the herd?
When I finally realized I was normal in my own way, I stopped being so hard on myself. I learned that introverts have many things to be grateful for: I don’t have to surrounded myself with many people to have fun; I can spend time by myself and enjoy it; and I can go to those deep places in my heart that are only known by those who take the time to look carefully.
When you accept your introversion, the voice that craves approval says goodbye. You don’t need it anymore.
I understood that I was not “wrong.” I didn’t have a problem—except if I kept choosing activities that didn’t make me feel good.
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I can be as fun as any other person, but in a different way. I love Saturday nights at home. Even if someone invites me to the most amazing party, I will thank that person for the invitation, but I will probably decline.
And yes, that’s ok.
I have to watch that I don’t stagnate in my comfort zone. I do attend get-togethers when it’s important for me to go, like events related to work (when it’s necessary for me to be polite) or the special occasion of a dear friend. The difference is now I am more in control of my time. I leave the party when I want to, satisfied that I have fulfilled my purpose. I’m conscious of the fact that I am at the event because I want to be, not because I need to prove anything to myself.
“Don’t You Get Bored Because You Don’t Go Out?”
When people asked me that question, I used to feel ashamed of being a “boring,” twenty-something who liked staying home. Now, I have an answer for them:
I do go out. I just prefer quieter places. When I’m with my closest friends, I also can be loud and laugh as if there were no tomorrow. But you have to be close to me to witness that.
I don’t get bored—and I am perfectly okay.
Not all people are going to understand you, and it’s perfectly okay if they don’t. The important thing is that you learn to feel good about yourself. Know what works for you. Don’t try to be like others, try to be like you. Listen to yourself and love your preferences, your choices, your ways. You are an introvert, and that’s perfect.
And if I don’t accept most invitations to noisy places, it doesn’t mean I’m arrogant or I don’t like you. It’s not about you. It’s about me. I’m an introvert, that’s it.