It’s kind of like we’re viewed as aliens sent from another planet.
Obviously, we don’t interact with others much. We hardly say a word to anyone, and to someone who enjoys the company of others often, this puzzles extroverts. Are they antisocial? They might ask themselves. Do they have any friends? Why don’t they talk more? They don’t have to be shy. Why doesn’t she go out with us and have a good time? If I was stuck in the house all day, I’d go insane.
These are the questions I had to answer over and over as I was growing up and in socially-required environments such as family gatherings and job opportunities. I cannot tell you how many times I had to explain myself for something I simply do naturally–actually, I’m so caught up in my own world that I hardly notice that I’m not participating in the group or not interacting in general. If anything, I participate in conversations using my mind without realizing it and forget that I have to actually use my vocal cords.
To answer some of those questions, no, a lot of us are not antisocial. In fact, for many of us, we enjoy our friends a lot–we just have a select few that have earned our trust and have accepted us the way we are. Many introverts may have one, two, three, or even more close friends that share our “eccentric” interests, typically reading, video-games, writing, and/or the sciences. I’m not implying that extroverts don’t like to read, play games, write, perform scientific experiments or et cetera, but those activities are almost always indulged alone for the introvert, while for the extrovert, those activities are used a lot for social gatherings (book clubs, poetry clubs, video/voice chatting with a group of friends while video gaming, chess club, science conventions, etc). However, being an extrovert or an introvert isn’t strictly black-and-white. There are extroverts who enjoy relaxing with a cup of tea while gazing out at nature or watching their favorite show by themselves, while there are introverts that love to entertain at parties and interact with their coworkers daily. It all depends on individual interest, and the main thing that defines an extrovert and an introvert is one crucial thing: how we gain our energy.
Introverts may love being around their closest friends, but after a couple hours talking and engaging in interesting activities with them, they may want a few hours or even days to themselves to kind of replenish their tanks for a future social interaction. Have you ever had a friend who excused themselves to go to the bathroom a lot during a party, or stepped outside to get fresh air a little more often than most at a family gathering? It could be because so much interaction can be overwhelming to someone on the reserved side. If you are an extrovert, think about those times you’ve spent alone in your house or room for long periods of time, and you start to feel lonely or simply drained. This is your energy-reserves being depleted because you need social interaction–you thrive being around others, and without your family and friends, you would be miserable. The truth is the opposite for an introvert–if we don’t get our “alone time” to self-reflect and enjoy our solo activities, we start to feel miserable, too.
Don’t get me wrong–if you leave an introvert alone for too long, we will get lonely, too. And there are extroverts who will eventually want to spend some time to self-reflect after a great outing or a highly stimulating social event. We are all human despite our alien-like tendencies on both sides of the coin (introverts don’t quite understand extroverts, either).
Remember: introverts mainly open up to those we can trust, and you don’t always have to make the first move to become our friend. In fact, we may come up to you instead–although we are quite the silent beings at first-impression, you might not be able to stop us from talking once we’ve warmed up to you.
Perhaps all the time we spend in silence and self-reflection make us save all the talking for the times that matter: with the friends that make us feel welcome in a world that doesn’t quite understand us.