“Love is essential, gregariousness is optional.”
~ Susan Cain
I’m an introvert. I know because I took an online test 🙂 I say that very tongue-in-cheek because I have always known I was an introvert, but the validation was nice and the test kind of fun. When I read the traits of most introverts, I saw myself clearly. Am I more sociable and gregarious around people I know well? Check. Do I tend to be more reserved and quiet in large groups or around unfamiliar people? Double check. Would I rather observe than participate…. Well, you get the picture.
What I did not realize is extroverts outnumber introverts three to one and we can often be thought of as shy, aloof and arrogant. Really? I grant you I tend to be private about most things and in large groups I am more of an observer than a participant, but that doesn’t mean I am arrogant or aloof (the jury is still out on the shy part). Admittedly I don’t have a large circle of friends, because knowing a lot of people has never held much attraction for me. Those I count as friends I hold dear though. I try to nourish those relationships because they are important to me.
I’m not anti-social, but given a choice I will always gravitate towards a one-to-one conversation rather than a party with a lot of people. I can become quite animated if I am interested in the subject at hand and relish a meaningful or even light, fun conversation with friends. Spending time alone doesn’t bother me and by the end of a long work day I am sometime relieved to have a quiet sanctuary at home where I can recharge.
Not surprising is the tendency for us introverts to seek out professions where we can work independently, jobs that don’t demand much social interaction that cause us to expend a lot of energy. Where an extrovert thrives in a social setting and may feel recharged afterwards, the opposite is true for us. Meetings for my day job can leave me drained and irritable some days. I rarely stick around to chat afterwards.
Maybe that is why I love to write? Here is a profession where I can delve deep into something that doesn’t require I expend emotional energy to satisfy social norms but can funnel my observations, thoughts, feelings and impressions through my characters. Instead of feeling drained and weary, I feel recharged and energized. Why is that? I’m not really sure other than it is a quieter pursuit.
I can spend hours reading a good book and not even notice the passage of time. Give me a hot cup of tea, a comfortable couch and a book and I am in bliss. When I eventually surface again to the real world I feel more centered and content.
So, the upshot of all of this is if you see me in a social setting – I am the one close to the corner, quietly sipping a drink and occasionally venturing into an interesting conversation – don’t think I am being a snob. I may be enjoying myself immensely. Most likely I am observing the interactions I see and thinking about how that tall, striking man laughing down at his companion can be described in my next book 🙂 When it all becomes a little too much for me I will unobtrusively slip away.
Oh, if you are wondering if you are an extrovert or an introvert you can take the test here: http://www.thepowerofintroverts.com/quiet-quiz-are-you-an-introvert/