There’s been a flurry of discussion around introversion/extroversion of late, and some of this can, in part, be attributed to Susan Cain’s TED talk about the power of introverts. The definition of introversion has moved away from being, loosely, “people who like to be alone”, to one that focuses more on how fast social situations drain your energy. I don’t know that I agree with either definition, and I don’t really want to put forward my own definition so that other people can tell me how inexplicably wrong it is. Honestly – and I know this sounds a tad too cheesy – if you are an introvert, you probably know you are one, and you have your own little personal definition of what that means to you, whether it conforms to what other people are saying or not.

When it comes down to it, I am, and have always been, a quiet person. I’ve never found a great way to explain this, but thankfully Tim Minchin exists, and he wrote this song which basically encompasses everything that I feel about being a quiet person. Patrick Rothfuss also does a pretty good job in the prologue to The Name of the Wind. Here’s a link, but actually go out and buy his book because it’s amazing and you should support authors.

Anyway. I don’t get outwardly angry very often, and my first instinct when something goes completely and utterly wrong is to stand extremely still and remain extremely calm. I like sitting outside on my balcony/landing and watching the world go by. I used to take my time walking home (this is before I entered the world of vehicular freedom) because I loved how peaceful it was, how the only sounds you could hear were of the leaves rustling in the trees, and how the stars winked at you when you weren’t even looking at them.

I’ve always preferred to write down my thoughts instead of expressing them out loud. I’ve become better at the whole speaking thing, especially in new situations and when I’m meeting new people, but I’m pretty confident my best work happens when I have a keyboard underneath my fingers or a pen in my hand. The words just seem to move a different way when I’m writing – they’re more lyrical, more fluid. To me, they have more meaning.

That being said (ha), I can be loud outside of my little apartment, and that’s probably the usual impression people get of me when they meet me for the first few times. When I’m out, I am, quite often, narky and sarcastic, and sometimes even outspoken. I’d like to think that it’s just part of my whimsical charm, but it’s honestly more of a defense mechanism. I lived through being that awkward child – the one who didn’t really speak until spoken to, the one who preferred to sit in the library and read while everyone chit-chatted around them. But kids will always be kids, and when I was at school, being “quiet” and having your head stuck in a book meant that you were different. There were, of course, plenty of other things going on at the time as well, but it is a short road from “different” to “ostracised”.

So somehow I cultivated this persona – one where I’d always speak my mind, but would always be willing to learn something new; one where I was willing to mock others and myself at the same time, all in the one sentence. It’s why I often describe myself as a “loud introvert”. Again – you may beg to differ on my terminology, and that’s fine, but that’s what I’m going with for now.

In many ways, I understand where the “energy” definition comes from. I work almost every day, and if I’ve had a big day of working, plus socialising, and maybe even uni, the last thing I want to do is go out and have dinner and talk to someone else. I just want to sit at home and “recharge”, but I never think of it that way. I guess I think of it as needing everything to be quiet for a while, so I can have time to read, or to collect my thoughts. In other words, everyone just needs to shut up for a bit so I can sort myself out.

Even though the tide feels like it’s slowly turning when it comes to people associating introversion with haughtiness and being closed off and vice versa, the cynic in me still thinks there’s a long way to go. I think it’s human nature to make such attributions, and that’s completely fine, as long as you don’t paint everyone with the same brush (and this goes for extroverts too).

I feel like this post has just gone round and round in circles a little, and maybe it has. But its origin came from a surprisingly large number of people telling me I couldn’t ever possibly be an introvert, that I’m just thinking about it wrong. I used to argue with them, but I’ve found that there’s no real point any more. People will believe what they want about you, and sometimes you just can’t change that. I’ll leave it here for now, mainly because I need to wash my makeup brushes, but also because I’m sure I’ll have more to say on this as time goes on.

Much love! (And thanks for reading, if you got all the way down here!)

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