I used to think maybe that made me antisocial. I once typed “introvert” into Google and it defined an introvert as someone who is shy, quiet and self-centered. And THAT is exactly why I denied myself of who I was for so long. I can be quiet, but I don’t consider myself shy. I really like to think I’m not any more self-centered than your average college student.
It took me a long time and some considerable research to realize that Google is wrong! (Gasp!) An introvert isn’t someone who’s shy and self-centered. Sure, they CAN be shy and/or self-centered, but that has nothing to do with the introverted part of them. I can see what Google was trying to get at with that definition, as introverts are people who cherish alone time. (NOT the same thing as self-centered, though).
After spending time with friends and being around people for a few days straight, I found myself becoming grumpier and grumpier and just exhausted. As in, two hour nap every day or I can’t function. So a few nights ago, I set aside a couple hours for myself to “recharge”. And this is actually what it is. Introverts are drained by being around others. This doesn’t mean they don’t like people. It just means it takes a lot out of them.
This of course does not mean that I want to be alone at all times. As a music education major and future teacher, I love being around people. However, I also love myself and giving myself what I need. Nor does this mean that I am constantly feeling lonely. Many introverts know that they are more likely to feel alone in a room full of people than when in their room alone. I can always turn inward for comfort and familiarity.
Never should an introvert let someone convince them that the necessity of alone time is a hindrance to living one’s life. Chances are, you’re more likely to enjoy your life outside of alone time when you do get that time to reflect. You will be a happier, healthier you if you listen that voice telling you it’s time to recharge.
Here’s what I do in this valued time:
- Actually just sit and stare into space. I allow myself uninterrupted time to think. I’ll review the day, analyze conversations I had, think about what I’ve done to be productive, think about my plans for the near and far future, etc. I think about funny things and laugh out loud alone and I refuse to be ashamed of that.
- BE productive! Guess what I did two nights ago in my alone time? Swept the garage, unloaded/loaded the dishwasher, watered the plants, played with the dogs, folded/put away clean laundry, made and ate dinner myself, and wrote five pages in my journal. I also use this time to sing and discover new stations on Pandora.
- Run or exercise in another way. I always consider running part of my alone time. I usually run on a treadmill with headphones on. Another reason I love running is because it’s a time where I can be active and simultaneously be alone with my thoughts.
- Read or write. It’s an escape. Not because I’m living vicariously through fiction because I can’t handle the troubles of my own world. It just gives my mind a rest when the thoughts become overbearing. In fact, a lot of what I read recently are biographies and nonfiction articles.
I greatly encourage ALL kinds of people to get to know more about themselves through alone time. Try putting your phone away for a while. It might surprise you what you will learn when you’re left to your thoughts and nothing else. Let yourself feel all the feelings. The more you know about yourself, the happier you will absolutely be.