The Accidental Introvert

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Leaving work one day last week, I was feeling particularly drained.  I’m currently working a temporary position as a customer service representative, so naturally I spend the majority of my days talking to people.  And not like a 60% majority, like a 99%-of-my-damn-day majority.

Historically, I’ve never been the type to shy away from social interaction, and my friends and acquaintances know perfectly well that I can be a regular Chatty Cathy if given the chance.  I love to meet new people and gab about anything and everything, which is part of the reason I love travel so much.

I never would have considered that my exhaustion that particular day had anything to do with my social job (even though it’s social-in-a-bad-way) until I stumbled upon an interesting article on one of the (many, many) blogs I follow, A Cup of Jo.

The article is titled Are you an introvert or an extrovert?  Or an ambivert? and it enlightened me to the possibility that, after all these years of thinking I was an extrovert, the truth may actually be the opposite.

I enjoy a good conversation, I make friends pretty easily, and I love a good party.  All signs point to extrovert, right?

But the article begins by smashing the most obvious misconceptions about introverts and extroverts (like mine above)–to be an introvert does not by any stretch mean that you are a loner with no friends or that you can’t bear to be around large groups of people, nor does being an extrovert mean that you can always effortlessly navigate social scenarios.  These facts in and of themselves were interesting to me, and equally fascinating was the method for determining your true ‘orientation.’

The article then proceeds with a series of questions to help you determine where you lie on the introvert-extrovert continuum, with the biggest question to be answered being this: Do you feel energized after spending time with other people, or after spending time alone?

BAM!  That question hit me like a ton of bricks, and it became so obvious to me then–I am a freakin’ introvert.

I love, LOVE being around other people.  My friends and family are very important to me, and I consider time spent with them absolutely invaluable.  But at the end of the day, I have no energy left for conversation, I’d rather be left to my own thoughts, and in some extreme cases, my facial muscles need a serious break from the work of smiling all the time (it’s no secret that I’m really easily amused).

And sure, after a long enough break from people and conversation-making, I’ll crave those interactions again and actively seek them out.  But I do need those breaks to re-energize, and if that is, in fact, the true cornerstone of being an introvert, then slap my ass and call me Shirley–I’m in introvert!

Perhaps this is one of the reasons that solo travel is easy and often preferable to me.  I came to some interesting conclusions about traveling alone after a trip I took to Iguazú Falls back in February, even going so far as to declare that I never wanted to travel solo again (it was a rough day).  Maybe in reality I was just yearning for companionship after spending almost a month by myself.  In any case, my reaction may have been a little dramatic, as I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’ll end up traveling alone again, not just because it can be hard to find friends to travel with, but because I want to.

Of course, the article points out, there is no such thing as a pure introvert or pure extrovert.  We all exhibit some traits of both, but I still think when all is said and done, I fall on the introvert end of the spectrum–I get anxious just thinking about throwing a big Gatsby-esque soirée, and I’d never go out of my way to tell my life story to the cashier at the supermarket–among other things.

If you’re wondering where you might fall or think you already have a good idea, I challenge you to pop over to Jo’s blog and take the quiz.  You may just surprise yourself.

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About Leah Davis

Hey! I'm Leah. I'm a solo traveler letting my heart lead me around the world, one country at a time. I've taught English in Thailand, climbed the Sydney Harbor Bridge, gone skydiving in Argentina, and marveled at the ruins at Machu Picchu (twice!). I love maps, strong coffee, good wine and warm climates. For even more travel talk and inspiration, you can follow my adventures on Twitter or Instagram.
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4 Responses to The Accidental Introvert

  1. Shaun says:

    Interesting perspective. I’ve always classified myself as an introvert just because I’m not super chatty. I have no problems with small talk or being in groups I’m just comfortable on my own.

  2. Blog says:

    It’s so true! I have a Type A, go-getter personality so people assume extrovert right off the bat, but I absolutely need that “me time” to recharge. Great post!

    • lamochilera says:

      A friend of mine pointed out that because the term ‘introvert’ tends to carry a negative connotation, many people fail to identify themselves as one for fear of sounding like a loner…I’m definitely guilty of this! But now I know better!

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