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From the Introvert's Mouth

One Student's picture

I use a different definition of introvert/extrovert. In the class discussion, the dichotomy used seemed to be one of shyness/confidence. For me, it's more a question of social energy. As an introvert, I not only enjoy spending time alone, but I need a certain amount of time by myself, to rest and recover from socializing. Too much exhausts me, literally makes me tired. I strongly prefer to hang out with no more than three or four friends at a time, as well, otherwise I start to shut down socially. And when I don't feel like talking, I really really don't feel like talking. I don't have many friends, and this continues to be a source of insecurity for me, even though I'm never lonely or lack support or whatnot. I turn in on myself, in thought and emotion. My own mind is one of my favorite place to be.

But I'm assertive, and I'm not shy about speaking up in class, and basically I'm comfortable doing it (though it's always a risk, of course, it's never entirely effortless). And while classes sometimes leave me socially tired, they don't overhwelm or annoy me like a crowded dining hall or a noisy party might. On the whole, I enjoy class discussions, and they often leave me feeling energized, though sometimes in an anxious way (i.e. too much energy to be comfortable, too many ideas).

And let me add as an aside: being an introvert gave me far more grief than not-being-straight ever did. I did the "what's wrong with me, why aren't I like everyone else?" thing for years because I socialize differently. Then my best friend sent me an article about the introverted personality type (she's an introvert, too). It was just like those accounts people tell of when they heard the word 'lesbian', or 'Asperger's': finally, a name to put to one's difference. I was aware of homosexuality from a young age (my mother is friends with a gay couple, and they're totally her token gay friends, but I've known them as long as I can remember), but there was no one in my immediate family or in my elementary school who read nearly as much as me, for example, or who had a word for *why* I liked to read so much.

None of which addresses any of the issues raised in class. Which is why it's here.

PS In the wikipedia article (, the term 'ambiversion' is used. I could adopt this, to cover my extroversion in certain social situations, but I like being an introvert, and I live in my head so much and so happily that I think my occasional extroversion is more an exception. Especially when I consider that I tend to be extroverted in situations where there is a meeting of minds: not just any discussion catches my attention enough that I'll join in a conversation with a large number of people. Furthermore, the classroom structures social energy in a way which makes it easer to ... keep my head, or my footing, or whatever.