For years, I believed I gravitated toward extroversion. During high school, I tended to be loud and vocal about my opinions. My circle of friends included people from all groups and I liked the hum of incessant chatter in the morning when we congregated before the class bell rang. I adopted this philosophy in college. My political science classes required expressing opinions in a roomful of my peers as well as in-depth conversations in groups. This emphasis on outgoing and energetic behavior appeared in law school in very brief bursts, but I started feeling irritated and drained after some of these encounters. I attributed this departure to just the rigors of law school, not realizing that there was more to my uneasiness.
In the last few years, I made an interesting discovery about myself: I really am an introvert. It seems almost shocking to see these words in bold, but it is a revelation that offers a tidal wave of comfort. Unearthing this truth came in small increments. Part of my discovery came with reading Susan Cain’s book Quiet , where in the first few pages you can take a quiz determining whether you are an introvert, extrovert, or a combination of the two. This quiz proved eye-opening. Always believing I gravitated toward extroversion, my answers to almost every question leaned toward introversion.
I started paying more attention to different places where I felt comfortable and uncomfortable. In the last few years, I steered away from small talk in large group settings. There is too much stimulation, in terms of the number of people, the banal chatter, and the uncomfortable feeling that I am really not learning much about the person I am conversing with, other than a few pieces of minutiae. I realize these type of conversations are necessary in all our lives, but I tend to like smaller settings where there is some give and take in the dialogue. I strive to work toward making some kind of connection. There are times when I berated this behavior as being too intense, but now I realize it is part of my marriage to introversion.
These characteristics come up in other places too. I generally detest over scheduling. The quiet time at home is essential. Downtime at home is time that I covet. If a continuum of days pass where I do not get a chance to read, write, or sit in the quiet, I feel irritated and annoyed. The other half of this conundrum is that I also crave social activity as well. Girl’s night, coffee with friends, and dinner dates are all sources of enjoyment. These are only fun if I squeezed in my downtime.
Just recently I announced how much I related to the article profiled in the Huffington Post, 23 Signs You’re Secretly An Introvert, with some friends at dinner. I read it and nodded my head several times and announced to them how much it spoke to me. The other part that added to my confession was what I did not confess at dinner: The sheer joy of learning something new about yourself.