I am an introvert.
It is interesting to me that many people don't seem to understand the true meaning of that classification.
Let's start with what it doesn't mean.
- It doesn't mean that I don't like people. I like people a lot.
- It doesn't mean that I am not social. I am quite sociable and enjoy social events.
- It doesn't mean that I am a quiet wallflower. I am often loud and jovial.
While there are, of course, introverts who may prefer solitude over the company of others most of the time, consciously avoid social events and would act rather silent and removed if they were forced to attend a social gathering, that is not the very definition of introverted.
Introvert: (n) Person who retreats mentally
My interpretation is that extroverts are rejuvenated by the vitality of others, while introverts are drained by it. Instead, introverts acquire their strength from solitude.
I enjoy people very much. Well, people that I enjoy- I enjoy very much. But I need alone time.
I go beyond being content in my own company to requiring it. Solitude for me is an oasis. An opportunity for me to just be.
We humans are a social bunch. We tend to thrive in communities and acquire a "group mentality." There is safety in numbers and fear of the outliers. It is this unease around the recluse that sets off an assumed association between a want for privacy and nefarious thoughts.
While there are certainly warning signs of mental anguish that include voluntary extreme isolation, an introvert wanting to recuperate in solitude is not that.
My personal experience has been that since I fit many people's expectation of an extrovert by being generally outgoing, people sometimes struggle with understanding that after having been vivacious and (yes, sometimes) brash, that I may need to retreat into solitude without thinking that it is somehow a negative reflection upon them. I tend to be very sensitive to other people's energies and can come home drained after a day spent enveloped in the activity of a large group.
This is not a bad thing. I don't mind it at all. Given space and opportunity, I will happily revive and repeat.
But I need that time.
Without it, I struggle. I get depleted. My health suffers. And honestly, I'm a bit tired of having to defend it.
Some people easily get it. They, too, are introverts and understand completely. But to my extroverted comrades who take offense or have concern: please know that it is not personal, that it is not problematic, and that I do not expect you to seek the same method of comfort.
We introverts do not insist that everyone appreciate the pleasure of solitude as we do, though we may like to promote its benefits, but we do ask that we be granted the space to do so.
It really is what is best for all of us.