“Party at my house next Saturday! I invited everyone!” That was my friend, as excited as could 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’d 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.
I swore to myself that this time would be different. It took me a whole week to prepare for the party. I did internet research on different ways to make small talk and start a conversation. I imagined myself dancing around, talking to strangers, and laughing loudly.
I would make myself have fun and be like everyone else. I was going to enjoy this freaking event.
An Introvert’s Nightmare
Well, I didn’t. Everyone was there, in their element, and I stayed in a corner of the living room watching everything with my eyes wide open, almost scared.
Later in the night, an extroverted friend who always loved to stand out and make me feel like an alien approached me. She pointed out to the people around me that I wasn’t enjoying myself.
Yes, I was enjoying myself, I contested, but I generally 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’d always felt like I wasn’t good enough. That I was not on the same level as other women my age. This “having fun” thing always made me feel inferior. I thought men would like other women 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 synonymous with dull. And now, here was this “friend” with a big smile on her face who was making me feel self-conscious — and seemingly enjoying it.
I felt miserable. Again. A failure. I was embarrassed that I’d spent time looking for information on how to act “normal” — as if there were a guide out there on how to genuinely have fun.
It’s Called Introversion
Many years later, I learned about introversion, and I realized that feeling dissatisfied in a crowded room was not a disorder. I learned that I don’t have to love parties in order to be normal.
What is normal, after all? To be like everyone else? 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 a lot of people to have fun; I can spend time by myself and enjoy it; and I can go to deep places in my heart and mind that are only known by those who take the time to look carefully.
When you embrace your introversion, the voice that craves approval says goodbye. You simply don’t need it anymore.
Learning about introversion helped me understand that I was not “wrong.” I didn’t have a problem — except if I kept choosing activities that didn’t make me feel good.
As an introvert, I can be as fun as any other person, but in a different way. I love quiet Saturday nights at home. Even when 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 okay.
Of course, like all introverts, 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’m more in control of my time. I leave the party when I want to, satisfied that I’ve fulfilled my purpose. I’m conscious of the fact that I’m at the event because I want to be — not because I need to prove anything to myself or someone else.
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‘Don’t You Get Bored Because You Don’t Go Out?’
Every once in a while, someone asks me, “Don’t you get bored because you don’t go out much?” 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. And when I’m with my closest friends, I can be as loud as any extrovert and laugh as if there were no tomorrow. But you have to be close to me to witness that.
It’s not “boring” to live a quieter, calmer life — it’s perfectly okay.
Introverts, not all people are going to understand you, and it’s 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 there’s nothing wrong with that.