Okay, okay, okay... I am publicly admitting to something that I've not been wanting to admit to myself for a while. I finally told my boyfriend a couple of nights ago, and now I am sharing here.
I am an introvert.
THERE. I said it. And, okay, I realize that most of you think this is the biggest non-deal ever, that it doesn't matter, and what's wrong with being an introvert anyways? (To answer your question: nothing.) My boyfriend's response was, "Yeah. This isn't news. You've been an introvert since I met you [back in 2009]."
So why do I think this is such a big deal?
Because I really, really did not used to be.
Just to clarify: and extrovert is not a "social person" and an introvert is not an "antisocial person." That is a common misconception.
An extrovert is someone who gains energy while among/socializing with people. An extrovert feels empowered while socializing.
An introvert is someone who spends energy while among/socializing with people. An introvert feels drained after long periods of socializing. It's not that an introvert doesn't like to be around people--they do--but they would like to pick and choose how/when they socialize to maximize the energy they will be spending with people.
Here is a lovely comic which explains this which I found on the internet:
(Here is a larger version: botcrawl.com/guide-to-un
An introvert does like being with people, but they also like being on their own in order to recover. I noticed that after work (teaching, tutoring, nannying--all very social people-focused jobs), I just want to be left alone. I want to read articles online, play video games, and not be very social. This was very hard on Boyfriend because he felt that he hadn't seen me all day and would like to spend time with me. I don't mind sitting and watching TV with him, but I would rather just hold hands and do something quiet, not necessarily with a lot of cuddling or talking or anything interactive.
Boyfriend is also an introvert, but his job is very different. He doesn't have to put out as much social energy as I do and, thus, has more to spare when he gets home. I'm pretty much drained of all my social energy, and possibly of all my reserves.
He's learned over the past few months that this is what I need--some "me" time after work, and then I'll be back to normal. After finding all sorts of pictures on the internet, I've learned that the reason I am this way is because I am an introvert. I spend so much energy socializing, working with kids and people, that I just want to shut down at the end of the day and recover.
I didn't used to be this way. I used to be a total extrovert--wanting attention, feeding on the attention people would pay me. I was your classic theater high school kid.
I honestly have no idea what happened. Sometime over college, I changed. Maybe it was because I kept getting hurt by boyfriends/random guys crushing on me, so I decided to keep more to myself to keep safe. Maybe it's something else entirely--I did not notice the change at all. A year ago I would have called myself an introvert, though, looking back, I can clearly see that I wasn't.
So now I know. I'm an introvert. I like people, being with people, working with people...
But sometimes, I just want to be alone.
And that's okay.
So just to clarify: Extroverts aren't "cool people" and introverts aren't "anti-social losers." Extroverts are people who feel best around people, and introverts feel best when they are alone. But introverts do enjoy being around people, and extroverts enjoy being alone sometimes.
In conclusion, some notes on how to care for your introvert/extrovert: