Identity,  Introversion

I’m Not an Introvert Because I’m Socially Awkward, I’m Socially Awkward Because I’m an Introvert

What came first: the chicken or the egg? I will make no attempts to answer this deeply philosophical question, but I can tell you that my life has made a lot more sense since I realized that my natural aversion to social interaction stemmed from being an introvert. My general discomfort in social settings began in sixth grade, quite literally over night. I remember I used to love being the center of attention, but I blinked and woke up one morning with pimples, rainbow colored braces, bright purple glasses and a raging case of social awkwardness. I can’t say if these unfortunate occurrences are related or merely coincidental, but it was a lot for my 11-year-old self to handle.

Introvert Alert

Two and a half long years took care of the braces, Neutrogena neutralized the assault on my skin and sensible brown glasses replaced my purple pair, but nothing has cured my dread for social situations. It had never occurred to me growing up that a perfectly logical, normal explanation could be the cause of my awkwardness, but my first year of college was eye-opening. I had of course heard the terms “introvert” and “extrovert” being thrown around before, but it wasn’t until I took a comprehensive online personality test and was dubbed an introvert by 84% that I associated myself with the term. I started a blog for my magazine class sophomore year and decided to focus on all things introversion, which created the perfect opportunity for me to learn why I am the way that I am.

During my research, I stumbled upon a lot of “signs you’re an introvert” articles. A recent article, “8 Signs You’re an Introvert” on Verywell Mind’s website, sums up the gist of it: people drain your energy (check), too much stimulation distracts your focus (check), you’re self-aware (check) and you enjoy alone time (check). When I take these things into consideration, it is easy for me realize how my introversion makes me uncomfortable in social situations. I often feel unable to focus when I am surrounded by people, and large gatherings definitely have a draining effect. Pair that with the fact that I’m very self-aware, and it’s easy to see how I am constantly second guessing myself around other people. I never understood why I would rather be alone or with a small group of close friends than be part of a large crowd, so I would feel isolated in social situations, like something was wrong with me for not being able to enjoy myself like other people seemed to.

Now that I am in touch with my introversion thanks to my research, it has been easier for me to navigate the social high waters because I now know that there is a perfectly logical explanation for my discomfort: I am an introvert, along with around 50% of the rest of the population according to most studies. This doesn’t mean I was born without social graces or that I am destined to live alone with my cats for the rest of my life; it simply means it requires more effort for me to remain present and focused in large groups. Knowing this, I have been able to feel more comfortable around people by planning ahead to make sure I have enough alone time before or after socialization so that I can recharge and be back at my best. I wouldn’t go as far as to say I am a social butterfly, but I am content to remain a caterpillar who is at least trying her best to flourish.

 

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