I started working at my first-ever office job in March of 2019. During a typical week, I would go into the office for three days and work from home for two. I enjoyed working in an office, mostly because it was the definition of success and of being a true adult after college. My coworkers were all very close friends with one another, and I enjoyed the lightheartedness in the air that came with the camaraderie. Unfortunately, I don’t think I ever truly made my way into that circle of friends (I’m talking best-friends-outside-of-work level friends) for many reasons. I believe that the overarching reason is because they all shared common interests that I could not have cared less about.
For example, one of my coworkers’ favorite topics to talk about amongst each other was astrology. This isn’t necessarily a friendship-ender, but I wasn’t about to pretend to think astrology is fun just to fit in. I also wasn’t about to ruin the mood by going off on a tirade about why astrology is pseudoscience and it is an impediment to real science. So for most conversations, I would just sit quietly (or put in headphones to drown out the inanity).
At the same time, I felt that I still liked these people and didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to make friends. But how do I do that? For most of their conversations about fitness and beauty, I literally didn’t have anything to add. And when I did, I didn’t want to seem overeager to insert myself into a conversation that I was not invited into. (This was most of them.) I ended up attending a handful of happy hours and lunches, but it was mostly because I felt that I couldn’t complain about not making friends if I didn’t at least try.
Then in March 2020—actually, on the exact day that I was hired on as a full-time employee after being a contractor—we all switched to working from home. Our jobs have all been fully remote since, and I haven’t seen any of the aforementioned people. Outside of work-related conversations, I haven’t talked to any of them. When people ask me if I’m glad I’m working from home, I’ve mostly said that I’m just happy to not have to listen to their inane conversations about Mercury retrograde anymore. This is when I’d be called an introvert. It’s not wrong, but I realized this week that it wouldn’t be right to just paint someone an introvert and blame their social issues on that.
As I’ve said, my introversion at work wasn’t just because I didn’t like my coworkers, but trying to find where I fit in with them was such a constant chore and source of stress that I didn’t have the energy for it. I’m sure that even an extrovert can run into those same issues of not fitting in, but perhaps they would have more motivation to fight for a place in the group. Not me, though—I’m happier by myself anyways.
No matter what my Myers-Briggs says, or what my zodiac sign may or may not tell you, I’ve been an introvert for my whole life. I think everyone in my entire family is an introvert as well. This shared quality would manifest itself in that our favorite nights were always when we could each bring a book to the dinner table, quietly read as we ate, and not utter a word.
I was a little more outgoing in high school and college in my specific friend groups, but my memories of being an introvert in college were mostly, not surprisingly, due to being isolated as an atheist in a self-described “Christian bubble”. I remember the loneliness I would feel in my senior year every time I got the email from my RA that the entire hall was meeting for bible study that night in the lounge. The only people I knew on my hall were my roommates. And the only time that everyone else got together was for bible study. I’d spend those nights reading atheist books alone in my room.
This pattern has continued on through the years. Even before the pandemic, I was staying home and reading because I couldn’t find anyone else with the same passions that I had. I know that people don’t have to be atheists, or into science, or against astrology, to “qualify” as my friend, but I don’t think it is strange to wish that I had more in common with the people around me, and vice versa. The things I love most—reading, writing, playing video games, cuddling my cat—all take place by myself. I don’t have to worry about the anxiety I feel when trying to fit in, wondering if someone likes me, or being interrupted in conversation. (It tends to happen a lot.)
I find it fascinating that being introverted is not a one-size-fits-all trait, and we are all introverts to some extent and for different reasons. Some of us are shy, some of us haven’t found the right group of people, and some, like me, truly are just happier alone, at home, where they are comfortable and they can be their authentic selves.
12 thoughts on “Why I Am an Introvert”
I do not know exactly what the Myers-Briggs profile tells you, but they do use words a bit … loosely. On the introvert-extrovert axis, they aren’t referring to the psychological states as much as information processing preferences. I, for example, am a flaming extrovert according to M-B. This means that I process information by talking and participating. I need to hear myself to think, as it were. M-B introverts are people who take in information and need some time to mull it over before talking about it.
Having said all of that, your post kind of reinforces your point. Introverts are people who turn inward (almost a literal translation) and are preoccupied with their own thoughts and feelings and minimize their contact with other people. Sound like you?
Well, think about this … this post is bridging the gap between introverts (you) and extroverts (me). Such a service to society! (I do tend to think that maybe we do a bit too much navel gazing … but it is fun, don’t you think?)
It’s interesting that you worded that like that, because I do need to do a lot of thinking on my own, but I also sometimes figure things out best by talking my husband’s ear off or writing a blog post about something. However, neither of those are super social. I think this reinforces my idea that no one is entire one thing or the other.
Congratulations there are a lot of us quiet ones out here!
Nothing wrong with being an introvert (as I tell myself regularly). Thanks for the link to an explanation of Mercury Retrograde – I thought it was a Queen tribute band.
Yes, it was definitely something I had heard of for a long time before learning what it was. I thought it was something about mercury the substance, maybe being influenced by the tides. But this makes a lot more sense haha
Always enjoy reading your posts. You hit the nail on the head. The question should be, “are we being our authentic selves?” and if not, why not? That brings up a whole other series of questions. I’ve noticed that introspection and reflection are not native to everyone. The imperative to be accepted is pretty strong and I think drives lots of people’s behavior. Keep on doing and sharing what you love, Rebekah!
Thank you so much! And I agree!
I’m an introvert, as are my daughters. My older daughter made an interesting observation about introversion:
Both introverts and extroverts can enjoy the company of other people. For an extrovert, socializing is energizing, and helps them de-stress. But for an introvert, socializing is mentally draining, even when it’s fun. After enough socializing, I’m out of spoons, and need to be by myself for awhile to re-charge.
I’ve also been in the position of having co-workers who have conversations that I can’t really join in to. It was a small office, only four of us, and my bosses would get chatting about religion, and I’d pretty much have to clam up. I needed us to have a good working relationship, any anything I would say honestly would risk ticking them off. Better to just say nothing. Awkward, but safer.
Yes to everything. Awkward, but safer. Better to just say nothing. I’m not going to go against my own beliefs, but I also won’t just shout, “You guys are all stupid!” And then I end up on my own. But recently I have come across the idea of replacing the idea of FOMO (fear of missing out) with JOMO (joy of missing out) which I take as a peace and solace, being fulfilled by being on your own. I like it.
You have written your feelings beautifully. I agree it’s really exhausting to always fit in some kind of group. I get tired of it and had given up on fitting in for a long time. Good write up .
Thank you so much!
Very insightful post and likely not that different from what many other introverts have experienced!