Introversion is Not a Mental Illness

If, like me, you are an introvert, welcome to the American minority. As such, you probably can relate to being treated as if you are strange or broken. You’re considered antisocial. You are expected to explain yourself. You don’t fit in.

You have probably been accused of being depressed, even when that isn’t necessarily so. Introversion does not always equate to unhappiness. The phrase “social anxiety” gets bandied about by your critics. It’s not an anxiety so much as a preference. You are often misunderstood.

Believe me, I get it. I am so sick of being treated like I’m somehow less than, simply by dint of my position on the Introversion/Extroversion bell curve. I genuinely believe that we all have our place, and every place has value.

Introversion simply means that people suck energy from you, as opposed to energizing you. But why is that description couched in that way? Why does no one say that extroverts need energy from outside themselves, while introverts are much more self-sufficient? Why does no one say that introverts thrive in the quiet beauty of isolation? Why are we not praised for our focus and depth?

And no two people are alike. I wish that were more understood. Just as with gender, it’s about time we figured out that this is not a binary situation. For example, I personally don’t dislike people, even though introverts are often accused of hating mankind in general. I just prefer interacting with small groups that I know well, as opposed to large crowds of strangers. I don’t consider myself to be shy. I have no trouble speaking up or asking questions. I just don’t feel the need to constantly put myself out there. I enjoy observing more than interacting.

And I love time alone, which means my job as a bridgetender is perfect for me. Extroverts don’t last in this job. They just can’t handle it. There really are places for us “quiet types”. They’re just sometimes a bit harder to find.

As a child I was constantly berated because I wasn’t making enough friends. I have friends. But I go for quality, not quantity. I don’t see anything wrong with that. I think it’s cruel to make an introverted child feel as though there’s some score card that is not up to snuff, simply because that child has a richer inner life, and that’s hard for you to see. We don’t need to be fixed. We are fine just the way we are.

There is no shame in thinking of alone time as a gift. It’s not rejection. It’s not a mental illness. You are still capable of love, loyalty, and friendship. And so much more.

I think that the only time we introverts feel free and well-adjusted is when we stop caring what other people think. Unfortunately, those other people are still out there, thinking, and loudly shaping society. The world would be a much nicer place if people learned to listen to the quieter voices as well. We, too, have our stories.

30 Hilarious Thoughts Every Introverted Person Goes Through

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Topographical Introversion

I’m about as introverted as a person can be without curling into a little ball and crawling back inside my mother’s womb. I love to read. Most of the time I’m quite content to be by myself. And while I long for two or three friends in this new city of mine, if I had much more than that I’d probably feel stress.

I’ve also always been drawn to mountains. I feel a great deal of comfort when in a mountainous area. I think it’s because there are lots of nooks and crannies, coves and hollows, valleys and bends. Nature’s womb. It’s as if I’m being embraced by the land. You never hear things on the prairie being described as “cozy”. I love cozy. I feel somehow safer in the mountains. Mountains are the topographical version of introversion.

That makes me wonder if extreme extroverts prefer wide open spaces. But in a way that would be counterintuitive, because those places are typically lonely and isolated. Maybe they’d favor a big city that’s surrounded by wide open spaces. Dallas. Yeah. That might work.

Hey, it’s a theory.

Dallas

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Hibernation

I admit it. I’m an introvert. People don’t energize me, they drain me. I’m not someone who looks forward to parties and large gatherings.

It’s not that I don’t like people. Quite the contrary. I have several dear friends. I just prefer to interact with them one on one, and I agree with Ben Franklin that fish and visitors stink after three days. I’m quite happy to see them go after a certain length of time, but that doesn’t mean I love them any less.

It is much easier to be social and an introvert in the modern era. I can keep in touch via e-mail and facebook and text messages, and I can write this blog. Then, when I want to have some “me time”, all I have to do is log off. It’s the electronic equivalent of “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.”

I am glad I have my dogs. It’s nice to have a heartbeat in the house, someone who is happy to see me when I come home. But I’m fairly certain that if they suddenly were endowed with the ability to speak, or if they stopped feeling the need to sleep 18 hours a day, I’d probably be setting them up in their own bachelor pad on the opposite side of town. Oh, I’d call and chat daily, but I wouldn’t want to spoon with them as much as I do now.

Katherine Hepburn had a good point when she said a happy marriage would be one where the spouses were to “live nearby and visit often.” Unfortunately it would be hard to find someone who would be willing to agree to that, which is probably one of the many reasons I’ve never been married.

I actually enjoy my own company. I can entertain myself for hours on end. Some of my fondest memories of vacations have been the ones where I’ve rented a cabin in the middle of nowhere, and stayed there for a week, just me and my dogs, a good pair of hiking boots and a stack of books. Bliss.

Perhaps I was a bear in another life. The thought of crawling into a den and hibernating for months on end appeals to me greatly. But in this life I’ll just have to settle for hot baths and curling up in bed with a good book.

bear

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Changing My Favorite Color

When I was little, if you asked me to choose a favorite color I would have said purple without hesitation. Purple, purple, purple. Everything around me had to be purple if possible. I didn’t care if it was a pastel or a dark rich shade, as long as it was purple.

Then, sometime around age 10, I began to get a more refined sense of color, and realized I didn’t really like just any purple. No. Lavender was my color, and that has been the case until very recently. A female who likes lavender. How cliché.

But in the past year I have been going through some changes that have caused me to get to know myself on a much deeper level, and all of a sudden a pale washed out lavender isn’t for me. No. I am a lilac woman. I think I have been all along. I just didn’t have the courage to own it.

But I suspect my life is about to be flipped upside down, and frankly, I’d welcome that. Things haven’t been ideal of late. So I started to cast about for ways to jump start some changes.

I began thinking about color. What if your color choice is based on your personality? But which comes first? Does your personality dictate your color choice, or does color influence who you are? I do notice that certain colors bring out certain feelings in me.

Recently I got a new laptop and had a choice of colors. I could have chosen purple, but I chose red. For some reason I really had to have red. And that surprised me because I’ve never liked red. I don’t wear red, and it’s not a big part of my life. Red actually makes me uncomfortable. It’s way too “out there” for quiet little me.

And I’ve been noticing yellow a lot recently. Yellow makes me smile. I think I need more yellow in my life. Again, this is a color I’ve always avoided. Not only because I look jaundiced when I wear it, but also because it’s a bit too perky, a bit too upbeat. Ironically I just realized it’s exactly opposite purple on the color wheel, too. Interesting.

In the process of writing this entry, I came across this website: http://www.empower-yourself-with-color-psychology.com and it talks about the various personality traits that are associated with certain colors. Sure enough, the description for purple fits me to a T. It’s actually kind of eerie. All but two comments about purple people, for better or for worse, match me perfectly.

The website also mentions some other interesting theories. It says:

“If you have changed your personality color, or favorite color, try to identify the circumstances surrounding your life at that time as your new favorite will reflect qualities you need to attract into your life to help you deal with those circumstances.”

“The colors you dislike can tell you a lot about yourself as well, often reflecting your weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Your most disliked color will relate to areas in your life that need to be given attention or past hurts that need to be healed. It is a good idea to try to incorporate a small amount of your disliked colors into your life by using them in clothing or underwear or in your home, to help balance your energies. Rejecting whole colors can create imbalances in your life.”

So next I looked at their descriptions of yellow and red, to find out what I need from them.

From yellow I need enthusiasm for life, confidence and optimism. It also brings clear thinking and quick decision making. Being drawn to yellow means I have a deep need for logical order. Amen to that. My dislike of yellow up to this point means that I’ve been unable to cope with change, and am not impulsive or spontaneous. Again, right on target.

Red is the color of extroversion and optimism. I could use both qualities. If I’m drawn to red right now it means I have a need for fulfillment and satisfaction and I want to experience life through the five senses. Yes! Yes! Yes! My aversion to it up to now means that I’ve been under stress and couldn’t cope with the excitement and high energy that red generates. It also means I find anger a difficult emotion to handle. God, yes.

It also says that if you dislike red, “You may want more excitement, energy and passion in your life but are afraid, for some reason, or lack the self-confidence, to get involved and open yourself to the possibilities red can bring to you.” And “You may have suffered rejection or defeat at an early age and don’t believe you can ever win.” Well, holy crap.

Okay, that’s it. I’m bringing more red and yellow into my life. Yes, I’m sure I’ll always be inherently lilac, but what would it hurt if I added a little contrast to my world?

Pillow Fight at Nathan Philips Square in Toronto. May 12, 2007.

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