introverted woman in a tutu dress

My mom is really social. She’s probably a “connector,” or whatever. She started all these local groups when I was a kid. She started like ten book clubs and a science club and even a magic club, for kids to do magic tricks. Not even kidding. I could do one magic trick, and it took me WEEKS to learn it. It involved magically tying a rope in a knot, just by moving it around a little in a non-rope-tying-looking fashion. Yeah, I was talented. I did that trick at every meeting of the magic club.

My mom loves to throw parties. My brothers and I always had three birthday parties each, just because she liked them so much. She would bake these enormous, elaborate cakes. Alligators and Darth Vaders and turtles; for me, a cream and lavender castle, with actual spires and tiny windows. I think if she asked me now, though, I’d want Darth Vader, too. I didn’t understand how coolness worked back then.

I never really liked the parties my mom threw for my birthday. When I was a little kid, I was infamous in the family for crying every time people sang happy birthday to me. I think I was just overwhelmed. Like, why are they all singing at me?! What do they want? What am I, some pony that’s supposed to perform a trick now, for their amusement? If there was any compassion in the world, they would just give me my cake and leave me in peace!

My mom was a good sport about my whole, you know, personality. And later I became outgoing and good at my pony tricks and fancied for a brief time that I was hysterically funny and felt that I was on the verge of composing the world’s most hilarious joke, which I then intended to submit to Boy’s Life, since my brothers got that magazine and it had great jokes in it. The joke was going to involve a kid making fun of his dad for being old (it was a boy, because of the target audience). He was going to point out something about his dad’s age by suggesting that the dad had gone for rides on dinosaurs. And then the dad was going to have a witty comeback that would take it home and leave all of the Boy’s Life readers chuckling helplessly on the toilet.



(definitely one of these)

It never really came together.


I grew up and thought I was really great and was very impressed with myself for a number of things, including most of my dark poetry, several of my larger paintings, and my lace up suede moccasin boots, which went up to my knees. I tried to prove to the world that kids who don’t go to school like all of the other kids can still have rockin’ fashion sense. And are very confident, instead of being socially inept and obviously weird and unable to multiply normal numbers.

I can’t really multiply, I’m not gonna lie. But I can socialize, damnit. I can.

I just don’t really always like to.

That is the problem. And it is still a problem today. Especially, I sometimes think, because I am a girl. Woman. Some combination of those. I am currently wearing a pink tutu dress, but my face looks very mature.

The other night, Bear had a friend I’d never met over, and, in my defense, it was the second day of Rosh Hashanah and I had just gotten home after singing in synagogue for a lot of hours, so I was exhausted. They were hanging out and drinking beer and talking about the latest stem cell research or something stereotypically manly (no, but really they were, from the sound of it through the wall), and I was lying in bed watching a Bette Midler movie, which is sometimes all I want to do for what feels like forever. And then I had to come out because I needed the computer charger cord and I made some (hilarious) jokes about how antisocial and lame I was being by hiding in the bedroom. I explained that I was really really tired and otherwise would’ve loved to join in.

And Bear was like, “See? I told you she was antisocial!” In this fond tone, like it was so adorable.

And they both laughed. And his friend was like, “Yeah, Bear was telling me that you’re just like him and never want to go out, so I shouldn’t even try to get you guys together with me and my girlfriend.”

I laughed. “Yup, we’re pretty well matched! But I think I could probably manage to be around your girlfriend for a couple hours, you know, if I had to.”

We all laughed, because we’re all so polite, and then I retreated.

But I was taken aback. I mean, come on! I can do a double date! I love double dates! I love really small groups! They’re my specialty! And also, I’m not antisocial! I’m totally social! I can talk to lots of different people in lots of different settings! I am just like the school kids! I can tie my shoes! I can multiply!

But it was something else, too. I felt like I shouldn’t be “just like Bear.” I felt like that was a failure. A laziness. Because he’s the brilliant, nerdy, lovably distracted, slow-to-speak man. But I am the woman. And it’s different. Especially if the man is like Bear, the woman should be social.

I know, of course the woman shouldn’t be anything. She should be herself. She should embrace her unique qualities. She should be whatever she feels like being. But also, there’s this blueprint in my head, and it has very clear instructions about this. The woman should be social.  If the man is like Bear then she needs to complement him with her clever people-reading and her bright, welcoming conversation.

No she doesn’t. Of course she doesn’t. God, what is this, the fifties? Does she have to make a perfectly browned pot roast, too? No! But someone should, because pot roast is delicious. But no.


(my dad actually makes really good pot roast. source)

So what is the deal with my head?

I don’t know, maybe it’s just that I get this sense, from being alive and stuff, that we are all probably supposed to have great hair and cute skinny jeans and be at least relatively witty. And that being a better woman involves being more social. There are a lot of ways that women are encouraged to be better women. It’s like the message that cosmetic companies sell: be a better woman! Look younger! Be more like the you you want to be! Be more like the you Beyonce already is!

I’m fairly certain Beyonce is extroverted, too.

Throughout my life, there have already been so many things I didn’t do that I felt strongly I should have, but they just sounded so awful to me. Joining activity groups in college. That’s where you meet friends! That’s why I only had like four friends in college! Volunteering. God. What’s wrong with you. You’re improving the world! But I’ll have to stand around and schmooze with so many other volunteers! Choir. Parties. Grad student nights at the local bar. Birthright. My mom is still bitter about that one. I should have gone to all of it! I know! I know! I’m terrible. I should be somewhere right now, actually, I’m pretty sure. I should be out somewhere, doing things. Meeting people. Expanding my world. Clinking glasses. Making witty small talk.

But you know where I am? I’m inside my apartment, with my laptop, writing.

“You need to go out, to have something to write about,” my mom is always telling me, in an effort to trick me into having something that looks a little bit more like a life.

The other night, when the awesome and very social Rachel Hills and my intimidatingly sexy friend Rachel Rabbit White were over here for dinner, and we were having one of the very small gatherings that are my social trademark, we started talking about unschooling, and then after that we were talking about larger writer get-togethers and how fun/not fun at all they are. I was on the not fun at all side, and the Rachels thought they were great. And suddenly I felt that old fear that someone would connect the dots and realize that I am a homeschooling failure. That I am exactly what the world expected me to be when I was growing up and all those adults were constantly asking me, “So, can you socialize?” Like my parents had cut me off from everything a child needed.

And I felt my words begin to tangle in my mouth. I felt so awkward and ungainly and unable to dish pasta from the bowl onto my plate because it would fall on the table. And in that moment my future flashed before my eyes:

Me, being bad at homeschooling my own eventual kids because I don’t know what that looks like without magic club and cultural cooking club and the nature hiking society and the classic literature book group and the popular literature and art group. And I sure as hell am not about to start those things. Me, not fitting in with the other moms, and having food stuck in my teeth. Being talked about by the shiny-haired, slender moms in the neighborhood, like the ones I overheard at the pharmacy the other day: “She’s just not that pretty, you know?” one of them was saying to the other. “She can’t keep it together. Not, you know, like us.” And then she giggled. And the other one giggled. Me, having unruly teenagers who can’t do math, and Bear is like, “You know, math is the most interesting thing in the world, and I am really disappointed that my children haven’t been exposed to it at all… And I’ve also noticed that they can’t tie their shoes.” Me, in a retirement community where no one invites me to play bridge, and worse,  I don’t even want to get invited.


(who even wears shoes with laces anymore these days, anyway? source)

And then Rachel Hills asked me if I thought unschooling had worked for me in particular because I am so naturally smart. And I said no, not at all, I don’t think I’m incredibly smart. I think I’m sort of average and that’s why I’m so thankful that I got this crazy chance to feel exceptional and wear ridiculous knee-high moccasins and believe that I was gorgeous even though I was just some goofy kid with a snaggle tooth. And she was all disbelieving in this very flattering way.

And then suddenly it occurred to me that maybe I really am just a normal person who happens to be introverted and also, coincidentally, didn’t go to school as a kid and loves to write and is very, very lucky to get to do that all day, and maybe it’s OK for me to not go to parties with everyone else because after all, I make very good pasta, and I paint very large paintings, even now, and there are so many wonderful stories stuck in the cracks between the supposed to’s.

It occurred to me that I have the potential to be pretty damn good at being myself. Which would be good, I think. It would be great. But first, I’m pretty sure I need to admit who that person is. Not, like, who that person would be if my mom organized my schedule. Or if I was also Beyonce at the same time and had her perfect skin.

I’m trying to hold on to that idea, instead of hoping that Bear’s friend who I just met doesn’t think it’s lame that Bear married this woman who can’t even talk about stem cell research for two minutes like a regular friendly person.Instead of thinking about what might happen when I’m living in a retirement community. I’m never going to live in one anyway. It’s not my thing. I’m going to live in this little cabin in the mountains, with my novelist granddaughter and possibly her potter girlfriend. And I am going to have these adventures that you won’t even believe. Most of them, maybe, inside my head. But some of them in very small groups. And it will be great.


*  *  *

Are you an introverted girl/woman? Is your partner introverted, too? How’s that going?

Unroast: today I love the way I look in yoga pants. Bear thinks they’re scandalous.

Reader cake pic!

This is from Ruby:


She says: This shows my husband’s impatience waiting for me, as he ensures that I eat it to prove it is actually edible. It was delicious. Best cake ever. However, one tier had black sponge. For anyone who’s interested- turns out, black sponge cake gives you very dark green poop. Which we found out via our own experiences and some perturbed texts from guests a couple of days later…

Good to know!


Kate on September 24th 2012 in being different, family, fear, homeschooling, life

58 Responses to “introverted woman in a tutu dress”

  1. lik_11 responded on 24 Sep 2012 at 1:14 pm #

    I am introverted. My husband is introverted- but working on being more sociable. He’s getting good at it, unless I’m around. Then we cling to each other amid the mass of people we don’t know.
    I wish I were more social… and I went to public school… and was involved in more activities than I can remember. President of some of them… but I still can’t walk up to someone, introduce myself, and start a dialogue. My specialty is the random walk-by compliment to strangers- they never knew it was coming or if it even just happened.

  2. Kaye responded on 24 Sep 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    I’m a raging introvert, and at 65 I’m finally trying to own it.

  3. Person responded on 24 Sep 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    I’m an introverted girl, and your piece really struck a chord with me. Until recently, I’ve carried this guilt for not being a social butterfly. I’ve sensed that, while guys seem to have the option of opting out and being the “strong, silent type,” we don’t get that option. We’re either that bright, bundle of sunshine and energy that draws others to us, or we’re that cold, repulsive bitch who’s “antisocial.” There’s no middle ground.

    It’s frustrating when you can’t be on, and the rest of the world glares at you, as if to say, “How dare you for not entertaining me. Don’t you know that’s what women do?”

    The options, it seems, are to fake extroversion, or to just completely disappear. I’ve opted for the latter, because, frankly, I can’t be everyone’s entertainer, mother figure exuding warmth, and perky cheerleader rolled into one person. I’m boring, I’m bland, I’m quiet, and I’m tired of changing for everyone else’s comfort.

  4. STARGAZYRR responded on 24 Sep 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    I swear, I don’t know you manage to get into my head and beautifully articulate the same thoughts that have been raging around my brain like an angry bull in a china shop.

    I am extremely introverted to the point where I actually have anxiety when we’re about to leave the house for a social gathering. My husband isn’t technically an introvert, but he is definitely a homebody who likes to log significant amounts of time on the sofa with his laptop. I have a few friends we’ve made in recent years that we regularly spend time with, and every so often we go out to dinner with some of his work friends and their wives… but I don’t really have many friends. To make me even more isolated, I work from home and correspond with clients mostly through email. I am pretty content with using Facebook to keep in touch with old friends and don’t have much interest in reunions, get-togethers, etc.

    This is something that constantly bothers me. I see crap TV shows like “Sex in the City” and feel like I am lacking because I don’t have a pack of raunchy women to call in the middle of the night and to go drinking with… nevermind the fact that I would rather read home decor blogs online while curled up with my dog. I’ve taken a few classes here and there where I hoped to meet some people that I’d have interests in common with, but being introverted, I mostly keep to myself. Being in a social situation always makes me feel like the awkward new kid in class, too shy to speak up, too self-conscious to draw attention to myself.

    I’m uncomfortable not being social, but not uncomfortable enough to change it apparently.

  5. Chris responded on 24 Sep 2012 at 2:06 pm #

    “It occurred to me that I have the potential to be pretty damn good at being myself. Which would be good, I think. It would be great. But first, I’m pretty sure I need to admit who that person is.”

    This is such a brilliant statement. If only we all, including the introverts among us, even the extreme introverts, could believe this, and own it. If only I could own it myself. I’m 51 and still trying to come to terms with the fact that I really don’t WANT to be social in large groups, thank you.

  6. Sarah S responded on 24 Sep 2012 at 2:17 pm #

    I’m a hermit, my closest friends are hermits, and my boyfriend is long-distance, allowing him to do his social things in his world, while I do my signature small gatherings in mine (1-3 friends+pasta and wine=nirvana). I CAN be social, I just don’t like to be (and I went to public school, so keep wearing your unschooling proudly). :) The most ironic part is that I perform on stage for a living and love it; few in the audience know ME, however, so I can play an extroverted character and keep my introversion private (just the way us introverts like it).

    Isn’t writing kind of the same? You can share and create whatever you’d like, but ultimately YOU control how much of yourself the readers see. Extroversion on your own terms (a beautiful thing, I might add)!

  7. skye responded on 24 Sep 2012 at 2:23 pm #

    I’m so glad you wrote this! I hope you write more about the trials of being an introvert. I like your perspective.
    I recently ended a job at a startup where the management favored extroversion to the point of discrimination against introverts. The company “culture” there was basically that of a frat house. I watched the management turn down job applicants because they lacked the right energy, or weren’t lively enough even though they were otherwise highly qualified. I myself am quiet. I prefer to think of myself as reserved, especially around people I don’t trust (which, of course, included the assholes I worked with there). My manager said to me, “you’re an introvert, right? You can change that, you know. You can work really hard and change that about yourself.” I felt like throwing my whisky soda in his face (we were at a company event at a bar) but I just smiled and said, “really.” What a douche, you know? And I’m seeing more and more of this favoritism toward extroverts in the workplace. I think “personality discrimination” should be a real thing that should be penalized.

    People have described me as a “quiet leader,” mysterious, cold, reticent, gentle, peaceful, calming, unreadable. I’m trying to love the picture of me that creates instead of constantly fighting it.
    Lots of successful, amazing people are introverts, as I’m sure you know. This article on Obama made me happy:

  8. V responded on 24 Sep 2012 at 2:24 pm #

    Oh my God, are you sure you didn’t get inspired by my mind to write this?! :D
    I’ve always been an introvert, and I used to worry so much about it! I thought it was lame that I didn’t like hanging out with huge groups of people and didn’t feel comfortable being the center of attention all the time. I also didn’t do lots of things that I’d like to do, like wear fashionable clothes or talk to a guy I liked because I thought that “people like me weren’t supposed to do these things”. But then my perspective started to change. I think the biggest thing that helped me with this was the realization that my introversion does not define me; it’s just one of the many, many parts of my personality. I also noticed many wonderful, talented people are actually introverts, and that didn’t stop them from leading a happy, successful life. Actually, my main inspiration, who really helped me accept my introversion was the example you used as being extroverted, Beyonce. She’s my favorite singer, and it’s been said lots of times by her and those who know her that she’s very shy. And not only her, but there are many other shy people who describe themselves as introverted and they’re actually awesome. Now, even though I definitely have some bad days when I wish I was more outgoing, I generally accept and embrace my introversion, as another part of me that I love because, well, it’s a part of me.

  9. Amanda responded on 24 Sep 2012 at 2:31 pm #

    Yes to all of this! I am an introvert who went to public school and suffered through it. I did not know then what the problem was, why I couldn’t get excited about the same things as my friends…I just thought I was broken in some way. I still do honestly, just not as often. Gah!

    It feels like the world is made for extroverts. The introverts are at home! Or the bookstore! Online! Where I would really rather be!

    I am married to a fellow introvert and we unschool our kids. I worry all the time that I am not doing a good enough job of getting them out into the world with other people. Somehow I have taken this on as my job as the Woman/mom?
    We do lots of fun exploring…we just tend to do it on our own. My kids are incredibly happy, curious, wonderful people who have a few very close friends…They love books, the internet, games, taking things apart, and Star Wars. So maybe I should just embrace our little family of introverts and stop beating myself up about it?!

    It’s hard to just surrender to the introversion when it feels like extroversion is a skill required for shiny! happy! success! and I want all the best for my kids.

  10. Lisa responded on 24 Sep 2012 at 2:40 pm #

    I was very anti-social as a child. All I did was write and hide in my room. I never liked other kids as I was mature for my age and was generally annoyed by most people. By age 12 my parents asked me to choose between playing a sport or going to boarding school. I didn’t understand why. I later found out it was due to the fact that I was so anti-social that they were worried I’d become a non-functioning hermit (or worse, a serial killer). Believe it or not, I am very social now. Not sure if it was the sport I chose (ringuette) or because I just grew up and found my niche of nerdy friends like myself. Although I can be social and am very good at it, I also see many signs of my reclusive behavior that never left me. I seem to have the best of both worlds in my adulthood. My partner is the same. He can switch on the social stuff when he has to but hide away when it is no longer needed. Most people would describe me as an extrovert but I still believe that I am more of an introvert even though no one can tell. :)

  11. Katrina Blanchalle responded on 24 Sep 2012 at 2:48 pm #

    It’s interesting that you associate many of your “faults” with homeschooling – I associate mine with traumatic school experiences!
    I’m an introvert, in fact I consistently score on the furthest possible extreme of whatever intro-extro testing continuum is being used. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that introversion is a normal, healthy personality type for DECADES. With the extremely unhelpful reinforcement from my then-husband, in my 20s and 30s I thought I needed to get over it, so I forced myself to be outgoing, have parties, attend parties, converse with people, etc. I ended up with numerous chronic illnesses originating from my hidden social anxiety.
    Now, finally, I’m perfectly happy in my own little world at home, my friends and family are trained to understand that I like to be alone, and I have an understanding partner. He is somewhere in the middle: perfectly comfortable in big crowds or at home alone.
    I suggest that you stop beating yourself up now, so you don’t waste a lot of years.
    P.s. Has anyone mentioned that you are very beautiful, tutu woman?

  12. Sarah responded on 24 Sep 2012 at 2:56 pm #

    Thanks for this wonderful article! You are a great writer and I love the quirky, honest, fun manner in which you share your life in this blog.

    Yay, another homeschooler! My younger brother and I were homeschooled from kindergarten to high school (i.e. we didn’t set foot in a traditional classroom ’til college). Hmm, do you have a post about how you were homeschooled? (I should just go look for it, huh? Haha laziness.) There is really such a wide spectrum of homeschooling styles—my parents were pretty laid back, which my brother and I loved. I think that the homeschooling style employed should match the personality of the child—and I think ours worked well because my brother and I are both on the introverted side.

    We worked with a correspondence school (we would send in yearly curricula, year-end reports and occasional progress reports and after grade 12 received HS diplomas from the school). From K-8th grade, we had a book of worksheets for a variety of subjects, and each day we had assignment from there. Other than that, we had very little structure and we learned however we wanted (we loved reading all kinds of books because our mom was an avid reader).

    In high school, instead of having an all-purpose workbook for each year, we purchased high-school and college-level books and software for specific subjects (e.g. Algebra, American History, Anatomy, etc.) Our mom and dad would spend some time each week tutoring us in their specialty subjects (Mom did humanities and social sciences, Dad did science and math). Other than that, we were again free to study as we wished!

    I know there are many who would think that our method of homeschooling was crazy (no tests, no meet-ups, no clubs or volunteering), but it was lovely and it certainly did not leave my brother and I ill-equipped for college (we both enjoy college immensely and receive high grades and honors). I might even argue that homeschooling in such a way is in some cases more beneficial for college prep, because it gets kids used to being responsible for their own education.

    But yes…The “socializing” question. “Don’t you miss out on having friends?” I’ve always found questions of this nature very annoying. It’s not like school is the only place you can make friends! Also, “Are you homeschooling because you’re a ____________?” (Insert nouns such as juvenile delinquent/genius/Mormon here.)

    So I totally get what you’re saying here about how we homeschoolers often feel that have something to prove about how we can socialize. I think my bro and I do alright—we can definitely strike up a conversation at parties. Of course though, we try not to get invited to parties in the first place because it’s not the most fun thing for us :) (Lying in bed watching a Bette Midler movie sounds pretty chill!)

    It’s not something I’m ashamed of, most of the time. But there are moments after I’ve told someone that I was homeschooled that I’m afraid they are thinking “that explains a lot…” That I’m making homescoolers look bad. So thank you kindly for this article—it will help homeschoolers and introverts everywhere sigh a breath of relief and accept themselves!

    P.S. Yay also for introverted couples! My boyfriend went to public school but is probably more introverted than I am. I am pretty certain that we will be indoors watching DVDs on our honeymoon if we even have one…!

  13. TropicalChrome responded on 24 Sep 2012 at 3:02 pm #

    Like most of the commenters, I’m a serious introvert. I used to work for a man who was the most skilled socializer I know – I used to watch him work professional functions like a pro. I finally asked him “how do you do it?” His answer surprised me – he really was an introvert, but he realized these functions were part of his job, so he taught himself how to make them work. I’d never thought of it that way before, but once I figured out that this was a learnable skill, I figured I could learn it.

    I still far prefer small gatherings, I really don’t like large parties, they exhaust me. But acknowledging that and planning for the downtime I’m going to need to recover makes them a lot easier.

    I also was raised by a mother (and grandmother) who were social butterflies. Who loved people and gatherings and going out and interacting. Once, when they were both still alive, my grandmother and mother were going on and on about “oh, don’t you just love meeting new people and talking to them and finding out all about them?” I just looked them in the eye and said “well, no”. They looked at me like I’d grown a second head. They Just Didn’t Get It, which was one of the many reasons my childhood was difficult.

  14. Maja H responded on 24 Sep 2012 at 3:28 pm #

    @Person: Oh my god, YES! I’ve cursed that fact so many times, that there’s no version of “strong, silent type” for us. We can be “mysterious” I suppose, but I feel like it is implied that you have to be sexy to pull off “mysterious”, like some sort of silent yet smoldering piece of eye-candy.

    On topic: I’m a big introvert, and so is my boyfriend. We live together with our toy poodle in an apartment that I like to imagine is the glorious grown-up version of a pillow fort where all we do is eat, sleep, read, watch TV-series and play video games. We almost never have people over and that is fine – being social at work is usually enough for the both of us. We have friends, of course, but we live in our own little bubble where our hermit-like nature is perfectly fine.

    I function perfectly well socially most of the time, but 9-5 is enough for me. I’d like to be a weirdo recluse for the remaining 16 hours, thank you very much.

    I actually wrote a blog post the other day about my introversion: :)

  15. Lydia responded on 24 Sep 2012 at 5:01 pm #

    (I only recently came across ETDC and am already a total lurker.
    Brooklyn-transplant writer/artist/feminist/introverts unite!!!)

    Every single post I’ve read truly resonates with me, this one in particular. Why are women made to feel bad about so many of our decisions, proclivities, natural characteristics? Isn’t the pervasive guilt strange? Aren’t all of the ‘shoulds’ exhausting?

    I am introverted and my partner is extroverted…I understand that feeling of trying to fit into some imagined formula of compatibility as a couple; “if he is this way, she should be that way.” It took me several years to realize that every couple is unique and every individual has many personalities- it’s okay to inhabit a different version of oneself in private than in public. My boyfriend of 3 years is still amazed when we go out that I am shy in large groups but a total goof at home, and new friends are often surprised to see my nerdy, serious side after having met me while my “social” self was turned on. No one outside of any relationship can ever know what goes on in private, and there are infinite ways for 2 people to complement and enrich each other.

    The notion that the only ‘should’ that ‘should’ matter is becoming good at being ourselves is so freeing, thank you for that lovely thought!

  16. Rapunzel responded on 24 Sep 2012 at 5:03 pm #

    Totally introverted. My husband isn’t really. He’s a good people-person, can get along with just about anybody, and is good at joking around and getting people to laugh. Sometimes I just think…hmph. Wish it felt that easy to me. In social situations where it feels like I’ve got stegosaurus plates growing out of my back with all the anxiety, he’s just cool and smooth (or at least has the confidence to *think* he’s cool and smooth!).

    I’ve been trying to rev myself up and go to an activity called Pickleball. Ever heard of it? I never had until recently. Apparently people gather and play it every Tuesday at one of the school gyms just for fun, and I’m trying to get the guts to take hubby and go. It looks like so much fun! But when I looked up videos for it, all you can really find are a bunch of seniors playing the sport…which makes me think it might be all old people–which isn’t bad–it’d just be…weird? I’m super nervous about it, if you can’t tell!

  17. beaujolais responded on 24 Sep 2012 at 5:25 pm #

    It’s difficult to be an introvert! Especially if someone(s) in your life have shamed you for it, a parent, teachers, other kids, society in general. And I agree, especially if you’re female, because you’re supposed to be gracious and smooth and accommodating and talkative.

    It’s gotten to the point that I hate being told I am “nice” (even if it’s a genuine compliment), and one of my biggest social fears is someone thinking I have no personality (whenever I hear that said about anyone, I bristle). Of course, I am the biggest talkative goof to my (very) small inner circle.

    If we work so hard at body acceptance, shouldn’t we accept who we are on the inside too? Sometimes I think of it as an internal dysmorphic disorder, where I see myself as just the most awkward stupid thing, but actually seem to come across ok. I am really trying hard to see it as something I do not want to change about myself. To use extroverted qualities as a toolkit, not to change who I am. Just like accepting what my body is and does.

  18. Kristina responded on 24 Sep 2012 at 5:42 pm #

    Kate, Kate Kate… it is so flippin hard to make friends as a married couple. Can i get an amen? Couple dating, married-double-dating, is so HARD. It’s nerve-racking. I don’t have any friends and it literally took me ONE entire year to get to know this other married couple and get to the point where I felt comfortable enough to be myself around them. Seriously…a whole year of my life I wasted on worrying about how doofy I am and whether they could accept me. As fate would have it, I feel close enough to this other married couple to call them a friend and now they are moving out of state. I am an introvert, awkward, lacking social skills. I sweat like a crazy person…who wants to be friends with a sweater? (haha, that’s funny). Married-double-dating is almost like going on a blind-date, as in the fact that we are kind of interviewing the other couple to see if they would fit into our married life. It’s totally werid…I have been married one year and it is the most daunting task to find new friends.

  19. teegan responded on 24 Sep 2012 at 6:00 pm #

    hubby and i are not hardcore introverts. we do like spending time with other people. we do like throwing parties and dinner parties at our home. we come from huge families that we love spending time with.
    but i’ll echo Kristina – it often feels IMPOSSIBLE to make friends as a married couple. especially a young married couple, since most people my age i know aren’t even in relationships, let alone legally binding ones. we’ve lived in massachusetts for just over two years, and we’re still working at making it out of the ‘acquaintance’ phase with most people we would like to be friends.
    of course, i’ve also noticed since moving here how many times i’ve had this conversation:
    person: we should hang out some time!
    me: okay, cool. i’m free at x, y, and z times.
    person: awesome. let me check my schedule!
    and then nothing.
    all the damn time.

  20. Mara responded on 24 Sep 2012 at 6:34 pm #

    Okay, well, I’m definitely an introvert. Always have been, and I used to get really frustrated when I was forced into a social situation.
    I never blamed myself for being that way, though. I just assumed everyone else was nuts. XP

  21. Caroline responded on 24 Sep 2012 at 6:58 pm #

    YEAH GIRL! Rock that tutu, i knew you could do it ;)

  22. katilda responded on 24 Sep 2012 at 7:30 pm #

    haha, oh my gosh. So incredibly timely. I am definitely suffering from adult-onset introversion. I used to love being the life of the party and couldn’t miss any social gatherings because WHAT IF IT’S AMAZING AND I’M NOT THERE….and suddenly lately I’ve turned into this girl who treasures my alone time and just wants to sit at home and read The Hobbit? When did I turn into my dad? Well, it’s gone and happened. I just started dating this guy and he is VERY social. Funny enough, we’re dating long distance so it kind of works…we can talk on the phone and then he can go out and see people and I can get off the phone with him and just enjoy my alone time. I’m actually questioning whether this will work if we ever live in the same place, but you know…I won’t worry about crossing that bridge until if/when I come to it! In the meantime…The Hobbit.

  23. Rachel responded on 24 Sep 2012 at 7:37 pm #

    I’m an introvert, but am good enough at faking being an extrovert that no one believes me when I say I’m an introvert. I can do the social thing when I have to, or sometimes when I want to, but then I have to go home and recuperate on my own. I frequently avoid social situations in favour of curling up at home. My boyfriend is the same, and sometimes we have to talk each other into doing things that we rationally know that we will enjoy when emotionally we both just want to stay home.

    However, I came from an entire family of introverts and so I’ve never felt that there was anything WRONG with it. When my mum retired she told me that she knew she had to make an effort to join things or, without the general socialization of work, she’d never talk to anyone at all. I told my dad what she said and his response was, “What would be the problem with that?” I’m perfectly okay avoiding large social functions most of the time. No secret guilt or shame. “Solitary” just means “independent”. I am independently awesome.

    Also, you are gorgeous. I think we kind of look alike. Well, actually, not at all. But we’re sort of the same shape and size, and it’s a good one. Your arms and breasts and neck are all perfectly lovely sizes. This is the first picture I’ve seen of you, and it really lays waste to all of the critical things you write about your body.

  24. skye responded on 24 Sep 2012 at 9:12 pm #

    @beaujolais, yes, all of this! I completely agree, personality acceptance is just as important as body acceptance. I feel like I’m okay now with my body, but I can be terribly hard on myself when it comes to my personality. I, too, dislike being called “nice” and can’t stand it when people are criticized for their personalities. I feel like it just takes a bit longer to get to know us introverts, and our personalities are overlooked when flashier, louder personalities are in the room. People don’t have the time, just like people don’t have the time for a lot of valuable things these days. Our society seems to favor extroverts more and more, but it wasn’t always that way. I have nothing against extroverts, and am in fact about to marry one. It’s funny, people label him immediately, too–as someone hilarious and easy to talk to; people have separately nicknamed him “happy”–but when we get home from parties he always feels like no one really got to know him.

    My question is, how do you use extroverted qualities as a toolkit? In some situations, I simply can’t act like I’m having a good time. I find that overbearing, old-fashioned (read: sexist) men, especially, cause me close up when I’m in their presence. I just can’t pretend to like them. I wish I could fake it to make it, as they say.

  25. Kate responded on 24 Sep 2012 at 9:22 pm #

    @Sarah S.

    This is so interesting. I also perform on stage (although in a religious setting, so it’s not really supposed to be a performance…), and my personality there is totally extroverted (it has to be!). But that’s different.

    I like what you said about keeping introversion private. That makes sense to me. Although, of course, I’m outing myself here :p

  26. Kate responded on 24 Sep 2012 at 9:27 pm #

    Of course the piece was by Susan Cain! I loved her book, and think it’s so important to point out that introversion doesn’t mean “I HATE PEOPLE.” Because that’s a popular misconception. Most people who meet me have no idea I’m an introvert, like Rachel said above.
    I’ve heard so many people mention the type of workplace discrimination you’re talking about and I find it really upsetting. I’m so so sorry this happened to you. Bear is even more introverted than I am, and once someone at his job gave him a book that had a title like “Learn How To Make People Like You!” or something. It was all about how you need to change all of your body language and natural reactions in order to convince people that you’re actually super cool. I was so offended.

  27. Kate responded on 24 Sep 2012 at 9:30 pm #

    It was you!! Sorry I’d forgotten! I’m so glad you read this, because I totally bought that dress because of you (this is what thrift stores are for, of course), and I have finally gotten brave enough to wear it out of the house (once). So thank you for challenging me!

  28. Kate responded on 24 Sep 2012 at 9:34 pm #

    @Kristina and teegan
    I hear you!! And yes, funny about being a sweater :-) (Bear sweats SO MUCH, btw. SO MUCH. Like, through his shirt if there’s even a little sun…but I think that’s another thing…)
    I’ve noticed, and this is going to sound mean and terrible, that often the woman is very cool and then the man is just, well, not. At all. And then that’s it. No more double dating with them. We finally have another married couple we hang out with though, for pretty much the first time! Thank god! And a few of my other friends have great boyfriends, so that’s good…But this is really the first year that people have been in serious relationships consistently. Up until recently, most of my friends were single.

  29. Kate responded on 24 Sep 2012 at 9:35 pm #

    YES. And I was trying to figure out a way to tie those things together and then totally failed. So thank you for being better at this than I am! Beautifully put.

  30. Kate responded on 24 Sep 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    LOVED this: “In social situations where it feels like I’ve got stegosaurus plates growing out of my back with all the anxiety…”
    Also, what’s Pickleball? It sounds fun.

  31. Kate responded on 24 Sep 2012 at 9:40 pm #

    Hi! Thanks for this awesome, awesome comment.
    The “should”s are truly exhausting. The complexity is the norm, but it’s just so hard for the world to admit it. Probably in part because there’s so much more money to be made the other way! Does your boyfriend like that you’re introverted? Do you like his extroversion? Sometimes I think having an extroverted partner would make life a little easier in some ways :-)

  32. Kate responded on 24 Sep 2012 at 9:42 pm #

    @Maja H
    I loved your line about the glorious grown-up version of a pillow fort. That immediately gave me this warm, happy feeling, like YES! That’s exactly what I want!!
    Thanks for sharing the link!

  33. Kate responded on 24 Sep 2012 at 9:46 pm #

    God, I’m sorry that you were forced to try to change your personality like that. That sounds MISERABLE and of course you suffered as a result. Sometimes I’m shocked by how much pressure so many people put on us to be more outgoing, all the time. It’s ridiculous and uneducated.

    On another note, I don’t think I blame homeschooling for my faults so much as feel pressure not to have those faults because I’m afraid other people will blame them on homeschooling. When you’re any sort of weird, minority, something people don’t really understand, they always assume that whatever it is that’s different or bad about you is the fault of that thing that makes you different. I always knew that if I failed at something people would say,”Oh, well, it’s because she was a homeschooled…she never got the opportunities kids are supposed to get…” As people grow more educated about homeschooling, I feel less pressure to be totally awesome in every way!

  34. Kate responded on 24 Sep 2012 at 9:47 pm #

    @Katrina and Rachel
    thanks for the compliments on the photo! I don’t think it’s really a good one at all, which is part of the reason I shared that one, because I wasn’t trying to be like “CHECK ME OUT!!!” but that’s cool that you like the way I look. Every time someone says something like this about a photo of me where I am not crazy about the way I look it makes me think about how funny the way beauty works is, and how little I know about the way I actually look. Go figure.

  35. Jenn responded on 24 Sep 2012 at 10:22 pm #

    I’m a huge extrovert (backstory: my dad is also a huge extrovert, and he’s earned the nickname “the Mayor” because he doesn’t go ANYWHERE without talking and making friends with everyone), and I get so much energy from talking and hanging out with people. BUT. I also love to stay home. Our home and our family are some of our favorite people to spend time with. Going out to parties is kind of like socializing on Facebook: not very authentic and often kind of annoying.

  36. Lauren responded on 25 Sep 2012 at 1:34 am #

    @TropicalChrome – I love this idea of ‘learning’ to socialise in big groups when it’s necessary, it certainly makes it seem a more achieveable challenge.

    I never would have called myself an introvert as a child or teen, but I think mainly because I didn’t want to. I wanted to be the life of the party, the one that everyone knew…but that’s just not me. I got a nice ‘salmon to the face’ awakening about this the other day, when I accompanied a boy to a big fundraising night run by an organisation he is a part of. We walked in, I gulped at the number of people in the room, he saw some people he knew while I was waiting in line for drinks and went to say hello. Next thing I know, I was grabbing onto his arm and in a totally serious voice hissing to him, “Don’t leave me alone!”

    I guess that’s not the action of someone hugely extroverted and Beyonce like!

    I don’t want to change the way I socialise. I like my small groups and my close relationships. But I do want to be able to go to a gathering, have the person I’m with talk to someone else and not spend the entire time fretting about what I’m doing in this group of people. And I think that level of being comfortable and confident will come from exactly what you said, Kate, being able to be the real you, and not the ‘should be’ you that you think the world actually wants.

    Bravo on a great article!

  37. Dane responded on 25 Sep 2012 at 1:37 am #

    I’m not really sure what I am. I need time alone to recharge and have enough energy to deal with the day, but I like parties and people and apparently I’m loud or obnoxious or something. I get told I have a “big personality”, whatever that’s supposed to mean, so I guess I’m a sociable introvert? I definitely lose energy after being around a lot of people but it’s a refreshing kind of energy loss. I don’t have a partner so I can’t comment on the second question.

  38. Sari responded on 25 Sep 2012 at 2:18 am #

    @Sarah S — you aren’t from Ohio, are you?

  39. Alex responded on 25 Sep 2012 at 5:01 am #

    I used to cry during happy birthday too! Nice to know I wasn’t the only one, I sure felt like it at the time, that was when I started believing in my little body that there was something wrong with me. 25 years later and still untangling that belief…dumb birthdays :) )

  40. Hannah Alyse responded on 25 Sep 2012 at 7:53 am #

    I’m a closet introvert. I’m considered really funny in person (I’m not bragging, it sucks) and am always “on” when around people, the total party girl. In secret though, I’m a homebody! I adore a night in reading over almost any social function. My best relationship was with a guy who was super calm. He was always commenting on how energetic I was, but when I was with him, I could be still. I’d never been around someone who had such a calming effect on me before :) When people asked why we were together because we were polar opposites, I said its because I could sit still with him in silence for hours.

    Also, it’s almost impossible to embarrass me and in high school a class sang happy birthday to me and I froze blushing. They all cracked up and the teacher said “Wow, I never thought I’d see the day Hannah didn’t love attention or blushed!” I don’t know why that song always humiliates me!! :)

    Love your writing!!

  41. Alpana Trivedi responded on 25 Sep 2012 at 8:51 am #

    Hello, Kate. On my first birthday, I know I cried because my mom had pictures to prove it. I didn’t like people and I didn’t like crowds. It’s funny, now I’m very extroverted and people just wish I’d shut up. LOL

  42. Ash responded on 25 Sep 2012 at 10:42 am #

    Being close friends with introverts, I find pretty difficult. I tend to take things personally, so if they don’t want to hang out with me, I start wondering what I did. Then I start wondering if their lives are unhealthy and if I should try to help. Then I wonder if they have any other friends, and if they’re okay with that, and what does it mean if they don’t care if they don’t have friends, does that basically make them un-empathetic or something, and…yeah. I basically don’t understand people who can hole up in a corner with one other person and never come out, forever.

    I also have to ask the obligatory question and say, maybe your homeschooling is partly responsible? I do think everyone should, at some point, have to learn how to work with large groups, and school is a great place to do that. Unless you tailor your entire life to being off on your own, you will be expected to at least interact with, say, packs of coworkers. When I was homeschooled as a kid, all my friends forgot me because they were seeing each other every day and I was at home. I was a pretty lonely kid, so I came up with a bunch of ways to deal with being by myself. I lost out on future friends because I had gotten so used to being alone and preferred to stay in on the weekends, and I regret that to this day.

  43. Jennifer responded on 25 Sep 2012 at 11:54 am #

    I am an introvert. Totally, 100%. Social situations give me huge anxiety. I avoid talking to people I don’t know at all costs, and I get all panicked and tongue-tied and stupid if someone I don’t know DOES happen to talk to me. Stranger-danger, right? Geez. I don’t know why I am this way, it is just the way I have always been, as long as I can remember. Here’s an example for you: my husband and I share a laundry room with our upstairs neighbors. They are nice enough people, they always say hello to me when they see me, and my husband has chatted with them on occasion. But when I need to do laundry, there is this moment of panic: what if they are in there doing laundry too? What will I talk to them about? I figure that it would just be unbearably awkward, so I always stand by the door and listen for them, and if I hear them in the laundry room I retreat to our apartment and wait for them to leave. THEN I do my laundry in peace, but still cursing myself for being such a crazy person.

    My husband tends toward antisocial-ness, rather than introversion. Most of the time he’s just as happy or happier to stay home and watch a movie or whatever, rather than going out. But he can fake being social like a genius. I wish I could do that.

  44. Gracey responded on 25 Sep 2012 at 1:07 pm #

    What a great thread! I just wanted to point out that being extroverted doesn’t necessarily mean that you have confidence or great self esteem. I’m an extrovert but struggle with crappy self esteem. Difference between me and an introvert is that I feel *better* for going out and meeting people and socialising. While an introvert will feel better alone, when I am alone too much I disappear into a black pit of doubt.

    Extroversion- it’s not that I think I’m great, it’s that I think other people are great!

  45. ModernSauce responded on 25 Sep 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    “Be more like the you Beyonce already is!”

    Ahahahahaha! It’s like you know my innermost desires. I was under the impression that Beyonce was actually introverted which is why she has her Sasha Fierce stage persona and why I, a fellow introvert, liked her too. Maybe too much…?!

    I definitely have to psyche myself up for venturing outside my lovely cocoon sometimes and though it doesn’t come naturally to me I usually am glad I found the moxie. Or found my inner Sasha Fierce. ; )

  46. Amanda responded on 25 Sep 2012 at 3:22 pm #

    I’m a major introvert, and my husband is a people-person. Go figure. I try to get out some, and I do (belly dancing is a blast!), but all in all I feel more tired than not when surrounded by people with zero break. This weekend I had social events both Friday and Saturday night, was baking all day Sunday, and by the time Monday rolled around all I could think was “Weekend? What weekend?” I’d had fun, yes (and for my baking it was two cakes — well, three after I declared one “too damaged to display” and sacrificed it to my family’s gaping maws — yay!), but I was just flat-out exhausted from a near lack of solitude. I have to recharge.

    As for pot roast, my pressure cooker is my best friend. It’s not “perfect” oven-style pot roast, but the taste is out of this world and it’s pretty much foolproof. Feel free to shoot me an email if you’d like details :)

  47. em responded on 25 Sep 2012 at 4:53 pm #

    The best thing in my LIFE has been in my late 20′s when I finally came comfortably and with acceptance fully into my introverted self.

    Some people, not knowing better, seem almost to think you have to do social things in order to have something to talk about. Like we owe the world stories of our parties and friends and funny social stories of our busy busy life with a dozen friends daily.

    We introverts are fully people too. Our lives, our internal worlds, our experiences of time and presence, even when alone in our apartments yet another day typing away on our laptops or painting or knitting or praying or reading and everything that we do, this is all worthy life, exactly as full and as meaningful as if we’d been running around after a handful of people and activities that day.

    I was never an introvert with anxiety. I LOVE people truly; they just exhaust me, inexplicably. I love quiet and solitude, just as much, and it gives me life. I used to try SO HARD to fill my life and my time with the kinds of things, the social life things, that other people seemed to find so valuable. It was like being forced to clean my plate of food I didn’t want.

    (I guess it really did feel like, as a skinny kid, being pressured constantly to eat more, being looked at as if you are lacking and not enough, being expected to take in moremoremore when you are perfectly satisfied and happy just as you are!)

    I can imagine it’s complicated and challenging to be an introvert with one or both of your parents being quite different! My parents were painfully shy children who grew into the anxiety type of introverts, and so my cheerful, friendly introversion was actually a help to the family in some ways. :-)

  48. Sheryl responded on 25 Sep 2012 at 8:59 pm #

    Another raging introvert here chiming in. I think I had a rather atypical introverted experience, in that as a child I was super comfortable with that aspect of myself and I didn’t see anything wrong with it. As I hit more high school and university ages though, I definitely developed a bit of a complex about my introversion, and I thought the “right” way to be was extroverted, and that there was something wrong with me because I prefered to spend time alone. This got worse in my first couple of jobs out of university where the companies I worked for treated extroversion as a job requirement.

    I’ve started to come more to terms with my introversion, and I have a better understanding of it. I even like my introversion, much of the time. I’m starting to learn that people skills are just that: skills, and while some people are naturally talented at dealing with others I’m just … not. It is something I can develop though, and I’m learning how to turn the people side of me on in situations where it’s important (don’t be bitchy at work, being present when visiting with friends, etc). I still have my wall, the point where I am so peopled out that even one more second around others will make me start to cry because I just can’t take it but I’ve been becoming much more comfortable with myself.

    One of the hardest things for me is maintaining friendships as an introvert, just in balancing who I want to keep in my life, and how many friendships I can juggle at a given time and how I divide my time up therein. My more extroverted friends are often driven crazy by my introversion and I’ve had one break up with me because she just couldn’t get her head around the fact that I just did not have the same amount of emotional energy to devote to my friendships as she did hers. When one or two social outings a week is pushing the limits of my social time it’s hard to figure out how to divvy that up between friends and to explain to them that it’s not that I don’t like them, I just don’t have the same social energy they do.

  49. Charise responded on 26 Sep 2012 at 2:36 pm #

    I am an outgoing introvert. I love throwing parties, I love hanging out with friends, I am even a pretty good public speaker and jump at leadership roles. But being out in large groups, or running events, or meeting new people … oh man, I get a bit anxious and SO. EXHAUSTED. People don’t believe I am an introvert because I talk a lot/loud/fast, but I need so much down time to feel recharged.

    My husband is, luckily, a lot like me – we both like going out, being social, and entertaining, and he can be a bit of an attention seeker (former thespian ;) ), but we both need the same balance of hanging out at home with a movie or even retreating to our own separate spaces in the house for a night.

    One thing I’ve struggled with is that I’ve realized I do much better hanging out with 1-3 friends, and it seems my social circles here are at a place we only get together for BIG things (the weddings, birthdays, or just-because parties), and it’s harder for anyone to make time to hang out casually. That’s where I get my intimacy from, so I miss it (and the closer friendships I’d have that way)!

  50. Zane responded on 26 Sep 2012 at 10:46 pm #

    I am not introverted but my husband is. Very much. And my seven-year-old daughter is extremely introverted—to the point that she is having a hard time going to school. I stumbled upon your blog through a homeschooling blog that referenced your “I Was Homeschooled” article (|main5|dl3|sec1_lnk5|36523).

    Discovering your space here and reading your perspective as an introverted woman, I would love to learn more about your experience being homeschooled. I feel similar to the way your mother did—that I want to homeschool my daughters because I like being with them. But my daughter number one is extremely introverted and I’m worried that I won’t be able to “push” her enough at home. I know. Silly thoughts. But, tell me, were you the oldest? Or were your brothers older than you? I’m just wondering if that makes a difference. . .

    In the meantime, I’ll keep reading your articles. I’m so glad I stumbled upon your writing. Warm Regards.

  51. Liz Rebecca responded on 26 Sep 2012 at 11:26 pm #

    I loved this. I’m actually an extremely extroverted person, who really feels like being, and needs to be introverted at this stage of her life.

    I just moved to DC…and EVERYONE is 20something and takes themselves too seriously and is hyperproductive, and of course, obsessed with networking. I have countless emails of happy hour invites, brunch gatherings, football watch parties for my alma mater (GO CANES!), intl. club something or other…not to mention everything that surrounds a typical, small, grad school cohort. It’s frankly too much…and with a full time job and grad school on my plate, I need to digest, and to breathe…but mostly I’m SO enthralled by everything I’m learning that I could literally stay in my cozy basement for 72 hours just reading for class, and it would be bliss. Point of this all is that it’s also going to be interesting to relate to my friends, who know me as this extreme extrovert, that I’m going through some changes, and that I’m loving it. Coping with that in a city of people that are just like the “normal” me is going to be a challenge.

    But posts like this one help me feel ok about it!

  52. raquel responded on 27 Sep 2012 at 10:37 am #

    Holy crap, @Liz Rebecca — I TOTALLY know what you mean! I live in DC too, and sooo feel you with everyone being way too jazzed with all the networking/happy houring/productivity! It can be SUPER overwhelming if you’re on the quieter, I-just-wanna-cuddle-up-with-a-book side!

  53. Kate responded on 28 Sep 2012 at 12:06 am #

    I’m the oldest. I think unschooling is awesome for introverts, because we don’t get automatically labeled the way kids sometimes are in school. But then, I tend to think unschooling is generally awesome :-)
    My mom, by the way, was offended by this post. She told me that people are going to get the wrong idea about me and think that I don’t like socializing at all. In case there was any confusion, I spend a lot of time with close friends, but I have never enjoyed being in large groups. When I was your daughter’s age I was shy around my peers, if I’m remembering correctly, but at home I was loud and theatric. Being homeschooled allowed me to feel like both of those parts of my personality were who I was, instead of just one. It also allowed me schedule my own time with friends and alone, and I think that was really helpful. I don’t think you need to worry about “pushing” your daughter. Kids like to push themselves, when they’re given the chance! And I have never believed that everyone needs lots and lots of casual friends– some people thrive with just a few close ones.
    OK, sorry, I feel like I’m delivering a speech now. But I’m too tired to make this more subtle. Thanks for commenting!

  54. Zane responded on 28 Sep 2012 at 11:02 am #

    No worries about the speech. I love to hear your perspective. I could keep asking you questions forever—maybe I should do that in an email? Thanks for responding!

  55. Kaylene responded on 29 Sep 2012 at 10:38 am #

    I am introverted. I love my alone time and I feel drained and stressed when I don’t get any. My favourite things in the world to do are things like curling up and playing a game, or reading, or drawing. I’m perfectly capable of being social, but given the choice between a night out or a night in, I’d take the night in every time.

    This always seems to surprise people I meet, because when I am around people I love being the centre of attention. I’m a singer. I love the stage. I speak loudly and quickly and I’m a lively participant in conversation. The way I dress and the way I look also grab attention. (I’m a clothes and makeup nut and I’ve rocked a pixie cut for years but recently buzzed it – you inspired me to do that actually, and I love it!)

    I struggled for a long time with the introvert/extrovert labels because neither one seemed to fit me properly. Am I an extrovert who just doesn’t like to get out much? Or am I an extremely flamboyant introvert who loves showing off? Neither one really fit. Everyone assumes that because I sing I must be extroverted, because how else could I get up on stage? And how else could I be so vocal and talkative and look so striking? But that isn’t how I see it. Stage-confidence aside, an extrovert loves spending lots of time around other people, and I like spending most of my time by myself.

    I’ve come to terms with the idea that I can enjoy being colourful and loud and attention-grabbing and not be ashamed of the fact that I prefer my own company. That while I love my friends, I don’t need to see them every other day. While I enjoy social gatherings, I don’t want to go to one every weekend. I think the introvert/extrovert labels are poorly defined and narrow and there’s probably a lot of people who are shoehorned into one box when deep down, they really belong in the other.

    (Case in point, one of my closest friends is a quiet, unassuming girl who organises almost all our social stuff and is always out doing things with friends every weekend. She thrives on human interaction. Put her next to me and people assume that I’m the extrovert and she’s the introvert when it’s actually the other way around!)

  56. Rosanne responded on 01 Oct 2012 at 5:53 am #

    This post and all the comments are heavenly! I just spent the entire weekend by myself, thinking, reading, cycling, watching tv, and I feel so much better than I did on Friday. I clearly needed it and I enjoyed it, but I still felt like I should be spending time with someone else every other hour or so. Strange how that works.
    I remember when I first starting doubting if something was wrong with me for not enjoying social stuff enough. I was 15 and my brother, who is four years younger than me, had to literally take me by the hand and drag me to the ping pong table at the camp site where we had been staying for a few days. All the other kids were hanging out there every day and why wasn’t I joining the fun!? I stayed and hung around with them and later that day this girl said, very loudly – she clearly was an extrovert ;) : “Hey I totally thought you were a bitch but you’re actually pretty nice.” I didn’t know what to think then, but by now I know: sometimes I just make a better second impression than a first and, depending on the situation, I can work with that.

  57. Jazzberry responded on 15 Nov 2012 at 9:12 am #

    Bit late in discovering this post, but just wanted to say that I loved it. I find the whole introvert/extrovert thing really interesting. From the outside, people would probably say that I’m an extrovert, but I think in reality I am a SELECTIVE INTROVERT. Give me my BF or closest girlfriends or my family and I’m relaxed, confident and outgoing, but I really can’t be bothered with social situations where you have to make dull, formulaic small talk with complete strangers you already know you don’t find interesting just for the sake of avoiding the uncomfortable silences. I can’t be bothered. Life’s too short. I’d rather be at home curled up with a book or my dog and a good boxset.

    I’m 28 now and this has been a bit of an epiphany for me – I come from a family of extroverts and have always thought of myself of one. Being an introvert, for me, equals feeling like the oddball. I think there is also a social pressure to be extroverted. My parents and brothers have action-packed lives that involve loads of travelling, socialising and sport. When they call and ask what I’m doing at the weekend I suddenly like I need to reel out a list of exciting, important activities just to keep up. If I tell them I’m going to be mainly taking the dog on nice walks, writing, or cooking, it’s usually met with the same reaction I’d expect if I’d told them I was going to spend it slapping myself repeatedly in the face with a wet fish. ‘Oh, right, OK. Well, whatever floats your boat. ANYway, did I tell you so-and-so’s going sky-lacrosse-boarding in Guatemala?’

    I need to stop letting it bother me. Luckily my BF is of the same ilk (possibly even more selective) so it works pretty well for us.

    Love the blog. Keep it up!

  58. Isobel responded on 13 Jun 2013 at 6:15 am #

    I’m an introvert and I was home schooled and then went to a public school for the last few years of high school. I’m greatful I went through both because being homeschooled taught me to be comfortable with myself but high school taught me to be comfortable with others. I’m not the social butterfly but I am the person people seem to ask for an honest opinion and I’m proud of it.