Live Through This

Better Off Alone

How I stopped longing to belong.

Illustration by Kendra

Illustration by Kendra

Not that long ago, I was invited to a friend’s housewarming party. I knew I wasn’t going to know anybody other than the hostess. Still, I was happy to be asked and I wanted to go, so I did. But after an hour of making awkward small talk with a few guests about Mission of Burma, who were going to be playing on campus a few weeks later, I felt a pull toward the door and my solitary walk home. I was ready to leave, anxious to get back to my dorm room, where I could read Gone Girl and maybe watch a movie.

Almost every party and social gathering is like this—I want to be there, but once I arrive, I’m typically at a loss, mystified by the ease and energy with which everybody else makes conversation. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to think that the way I connect with people is different from how most people connect with one another. My friends want to go to the movies and get dinner and hang out together all the time, it seems like, whereas I’m always drifting on the fringe, content to tag along on these occasions, but never one to agitate for them. But they’re having so much fun! They seem so excited to be spending hours in each other’s company, dancing or talking about school and crushes and life. And I never am. There’s something wrong with that, isn’t there?

I asked myself this question a lot. In high school, I never cared about going to parties as much as my friends did. I spent my freshman homecoming dance in the art room, hanging with my BFF, rather than grinding away to “Paper Planes” on the dance floor with my classmates. Every year, the cast party for the school musical would roll around, and I would force myself to attend. I loved working on the production with the other students, and I thought that I should socialize and celebrate some more, but I didn’t really want to. My classmates seemed to fit together like an awesome jigsaw puzzle, and I somehow didn’t.

This wasn’t how I pictured high school would be. In middle school, I fantasized about finding a big group of cool friends à la Skins (minus all the drugs) to sit at a lunch table with and talk about Gregg Araki and New Order. This was, I thought, what it was supposed to be like, and what I was supposed to want. In reality, though, I was happy for the few good friends that I had. I went to backyard barbeques and concerts, but I would have rather stayed at home, and sometimes being in those situations made me feel more painfully aware of my disposition.

But lots of us feel awkward and alienated in high school! I figured college would be different (because everyone kept telling me that college would be different). But when I started at a university in New York last fall, it took about two seconds for me to feel pressured to socialize. During Welcome Week there were group circles to be sat in, introductions to be made, and various outings around the city that demanded our presence. I found it exhausting. “Why don’t you go out more?” people would ask me. “Why won’t you come to this bar after the show?” I felt ashamed to say, “Because I don’t feel like it.” When I caught up with friends from high school over the holiday break, I realized they were finding their place on athletic teams and at the school paper and totally thrilled about it. I went back to college feeling like I had a problem.

Then one day I happened to come across a blog that linked to an article in Psychology Today. The author was explaining the difference between introverts and extroverts, and how extroverts are stimulated by company and gain energy as the night goes on, whereas introverts are often overwhelmed in similar situations. And it hit me: I’m an introvert. (“DUH!” screams the world, but I wasn’t so informed.) It was reassuring to read something that basically said I wasn’t a loser. The article explained that it’s not that introverts don’t like other people, it’s just that socializing isn’t necessarily a huge source of our happiness. We take pleasure in solitary activities. For us, sometimes even ordinary everyday questions like “How are you?” can cause a tiresome amount of consideration.

As I got further into my first year of college, I didn’t feel like such a recluse anymore. I still went out sometimes, but I stopped worrying about how I’d be perceived if I didn’t. It’s tough, because I think the world values extroverts, and I can see why. People are drawn to outgoing people: They lead class discussions, they find their footing in unfamiliar situations, they make good impressions on job interviews, Facebook wants them to upload the photos of every party/dinner/bris they’ve ever been to and tag, tag, tag away.

But I’m starting to feel lucky that I’m comfortable being by myself. There are advantages to feeling like you don’t need to be around people, but instead choose to be around them. I don’t struggle with solitude. A weekend without plans doesn’t bore me or make me panic that I’m not popular enough. I’ll go to MoMa or walk around the city or write this Rookie essay. Spending so much time alone has actually helped me define who I am. It led me to start a blog. It allowed me to read many amazing books. It helped me decide what I want, free from the expectations or ideas of other people. It’s impossible not to compare myself with other people sometimes, and to want to be more like them. I can admit that, just like I can admit that I’m happiest when I’m alone. ♦

62 Comments

  • Sophie ❤ June 4th, 2013 8:11 PM

    This is AMAZING! I totally agree- sometimes, you are happier when you are alone. People may think you’re lonely, but sometimes you just like to be alone without being lonely.
    Great job, I LIVED/LOVED this!
    -Sophie

    http://plainlysophie.com

  • GlitterKitty June 4th, 2013 8:14 PM

    I love this so much. I feel exactly like this sometimes. I feel like no one really understands me and like I just wasn’t cut out for the “fun teenage life”. I get so tired when I go out and just wish I stayed home. Pretty much exactly what Hazel described here.

    But then some of the time I’m exactly the opposite. I’m so excited about everything and want to see my friends all the time. Last weekend I went to a school dance with pretty low expectations. My initial thought when I heard about it was “go” so I decided I needed to put myself out there and try. I figured worst case scenario was that I would just go home after an hour and the ticket was only $5 anyways. But I ended up having a lot of fun.

    It made me think a lot because I had a miserable time at my school’s semi formal a few months earlier, which is pretty much just a fancier dance with dinner. But I went to both with the same idea: it’s better to be there and not have fun than stay home and regret it. Now I don’t know what to do and I’m right back where I started. Still confused and I still don’t really know who I am. But I guess that’s kind of the definition of being a teenager.

    • Jolinnn June 5th, 2013 3:24 PM

      I understand you in respect to not being cut out for teenage life. Sometimes I think, why can’t I just skip it? I just fit better for adult life, I guess…

  • alienbabe June 4th, 2013 8:30 PM

    It’s weird how much this relates to me, I love it!

    http://sweetandsourstyle.blogspot.com/

  • nizmocat June 4th, 2013 8:34 PM

    This resonates with me so much, especially the bit where you said even a simple “how are you” involves a lot of consideration. I used to always tell myself that I should talk to people more, like making friends was as simple as asking about their weekend. Now, I’ve become more accepting of my quietness, as I am so much more comfortable sitting by myself listening to music or frantically texting my friends about how I awkward I feel than forcing myself to talk to people who I don’t even like.

    http://myperpetualperplexities.blogspot.co.nz/

  • Sydney Penrose June 4th, 2013 8:47 PM

    I can relate to this in almost every way possible. I do love my friends and their company but I also really enjoy spending time alone or doing something more stimulating than partying or going to the movie theater. Sometimes chosen solitude is good for you.

    http://sydtheunicorn.blogspot.com/

  • mmorsmordree June 4th, 2013 8:48 PM

    I love this so much. As an introvert. Id rather stay at home in my room and blog/read/dance on my own than go to some party. (I don’t even know if I’m going to my own prom.) To be quite honest I’d rather listen to someone else talk about their weekend than listen to myself talk about how I spent the weekend shut in room. Speaking of shut ins I’ve noticed that they get a bad rep. A couple months ago I overheard a girl in my class call her sister “emo” because she spends all her time in her room. That kind of struck me cause I’m a shut in but I don’t consider myself “emo” I’m just introverted and I’d rather spend time with myself. That doesn’t mean I don’t like to socialize with other people I just don’t like excessive amounts of it and just because someone is introverted doesn’t make them “emo”. I think people should just try to learn the difference between introverts and extroverts. I think this Ted Talk is an excellent start on learning the difference:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0KYU2j0TM4

  • StellaBerlin June 4th, 2013 8:58 PM

    Oh my god I feel so connected to this. I always think that there’s something wrong with me because its so hard to relate with the people around me. I’m in middle school, and even when I’m with those who I think should be cool, I have nothing to talk to. I don’t dislike being the one in the back reading at weird dances and stuff, but sometimes I feel like I should be a part of it. And then I remember how uninteresting middle school actually is and I realize how much I actually don’t want to be part of the gossiping of whoever about whoever and whatever blah blah blah. I don’t know whether I choose to be an introvert sometimes or whether I truly am.

  • Manda June 4th, 2013 9:03 PM

    This really hits me because I’m going to university next year. I’m on a Facebook page for incoming freshman, and after reading everybody’s introductions and eagerness for frosh week partying etc., I’m beginning to feel lonelier and lonelier. It’s as though I’ll be the only person who prefers Friday nights to be spent alone with a good book or listening to music or movies (of which I seem to have nothing in common with my soon-to-be classmates). I guess I’ll find people with more interests similar to mine when I head off in September.

  • Kat June 4th, 2013 9:45 PM

    Anyone who likes this essay should check out “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain. I read it a few months ago and have felt so much more confident about myself and my skills ever since.

  • aliabi June 4th, 2013 9:48 PM

    http://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts.html

    This TED talk really connects to this article! I’m conflicted about whether I prefer social gatherings or myself right now, trying to figure it out and this kind of thing helps. Thanks for the essay!

  • anton June 4th, 2013 9:54 PM

    Hazel, have you read Quiet by Susan Cain? It explains introversion beautifully and also how and why society is obsessed with extrovertes peoplw.

    I grappled with my introversion for a long and I’m finally just figuring out that I don’t need to go out too often and socialize. You just have to figure out what sails your boat.

    • wallflower152 June 5th, 2013 10:01 AM

      I was gonna mention this! I am an introvert and it has been on my reading list since I heard about it. I think the subtitle is The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. Like you said it’s about how our society is built for extroverts and talks about how we need to value introverts more cuz we have a lot to offer even if we’re not social.

  • ksofiaa June 4th, 2013 9:59 PM

    I LOVED this essay and now I totally understand why I am the way I am, so thank you for posting this :D

  • whatnaomiloves June 4th, 2013 10:05 PM

    Thank you for this, Hazel, and for the wonderful article.
    IT ALL MAKES SENSE NOW!

  • spudzine June 4th, 2013 10:07 PM

    INTROVERSION FTW! I think I have been an introvert for as long as I can remeber, because doing exciting things instead of meeting exciting people seems to have always been a thing for me. I mean, I’m so confident in my unconventional opinions to the point where people seem tohate me for having them. But I really don’t care. It’s not even like I’m saying that to appear confident, it’s that I havethe literal inability to not care, which can get me into trouble.

    http://spudzine.tumblr.com/
    http://emotwins.tumblr.com/
    http://rockogirl.tumblr.com/

  • laulot June 4th, 2013 10:25 PM

    I loved this article! I also go to university in New York City and have struggled with some of the same insecurities over my preference for solitude over group activities. Last summer, I read “Quiet” by Susan Cain and it increased my confidence in myself exponentially. Interestingly, it has enabled me to come out of my shell more because I’m less insecure about who I am at my core. I think it’s important for introverts to push themselves to socialize in certain situations, but to always remember that doing things alone is fine too.

  • avisanti June 4th, 2013 11:45 PM

    This is exactly what I need to read right now :)

  • hungrylimbs June 5th, 2013 12:07 AM

    It’s like Rookie reads my mind or something! I just began exploring this topic myself after two particular incidents that puzzled me like crazy! I was invited to two shows for amazing bands (Two Door Cinema, Bloc Party) and when I got there and the music started going, only 2 songs in and I felt like I was going to pass out.

    It didn’t make much sense — I knew I wasn’t dehydrated. I drank (and still had) a bunch of water with me and ate beforehand, but there I was feeling like I’ve been jumping around for 3 hours instead of 10 minutes. I heard about introverts and Highly Sensitive People (HSP) on a particular TedxTalks called The Power of Introverts and realized that I was a HSP introvert and being in the pit was just way to overstimulating for my senses.

    It also explains why I feel so physically exhausted after a simple day out with my best friends. It’s good for introverts to retreat to a place by themselves and recharge. To all other introverts, you are not alone and there’s nothing wrong with you! c: The world needs us, just as much as they need extraverts.

  • Nao June 5th, 2013 12:40 AM

    Just AWESOME.
    Thank you so much Hazel this is just what I really need now.
    I’m glad to know that there are some people feel in the same way.

  • Glenny June 5th, 2013 2:03 AM

    Yes! Quiet by Susan Cain is definitely a great read, and that TED talk sums a lot of it up.
    I did find, however, that after listening to Cain’a audiobook (I’m lazy. Ahem.) I saw myself as an introvert so much that I boxed myself in. I put myself in an artificial category based on all that I knew about being an introvert, to the point where I failed to recognize that I actually did sometimes have the desire to go out, or sometimes I could gain energy by having a conversation with someone.
    For some reason, I allowed that idea of myself (as a super highly-sensitive, creative introvert) to overcome my actual self, which is complex and, as Cain explains in the TED talk and the book, not entirely extroverted and not entirely introverted. Although it is important to acknowledge what makes us who we are and what the implications of our characters mean, I think that it’s also important to intentionally work not to categorize our selves.
    An important TED talk about identity and understanding ourselves (and the lack of self) solidified this for me, and I think it’s worth watching for everyone trying to understand themselves!: http://www.ted.com/talks/thandie_newton_embracing_otherness_embracing_myself.html

    Love this, Hazel!

  • amyhodkin June 5th, 2013 2:13 AM

    After founding out that I was an introvert I didn’t take it well. I didnt want to be one. But after realising that maybe It is wired into me and I can’t change I’ve decided to try and accept it. I have a boyfriend who fortunately understands (he is the loud outgoing one,) a small but close group of friends and I really like how I think and how I come up with ideas and somehow I think I have an advantage because I listen more than anything. Talking is such a drag sometimes however I am going to uni next year and I’m determined to meet new people.

    I have bad and good days. Some I am happy to accept it and others I just curl up in a ball crying asking why me?

    x

  • elliecp June 5th, 2013 2:21 AM

    I totally get this. I always wonder why other people seem to be able to socialise so much better, and why I always want to just be at home instead of the discomfort of social gatherings etc. such a good article ^_^

    http://roseandvintage.blogspot.com/

  • cathyfromtaiwan June 5th, 2013 2:39 AM

    Hi, I am a 17-year-old girl from Taiwan and I feel exactly the same way.
    They look so happy hanging out and throwing parties that i think I want to join them but every time I am actually socializing, it scares me and all I want to do is run away. I started to question myself if I have problems because I prefer staying in my room reading, thinking, or having fun by myself/a few close friends. (You know, it is said that humans need socializing but I don’t feel like that way…)
    And then I read about introverts and extroverts. Most of my problems are solved :D Just like your story. Thank you for this article. I love it :) Happy introverted!

  • prouddaydreamer June 5th, 2013 3:09 AM

    I relate to this all the way to reading Gone Girl. That article in Psychology Today basically saved my life, and this article is a great reminder of the fact I’m an introvert and that this is perfectly fine!

  • Elizabete June 5th, 2013 4:17 AM

    Aww, so many introverts here!

    I am one of the group too and have been rather proud of it for my whole life and thankfully have never seen it as a problem. However lately I have started to feel lonely, maybe because I am a total introvert and don’t have any friends and spend all my time with mom, ugh. I want to be the introvert who has that one good friend or boyfriend/girlfriend, one is enough, but pleeease. ;_;

    http://melodyfairitale.wordpress.com

  • Saana V June 5th, 2013 4:35 AM

    My friends and family have always “bullied” me with going out and talking to people.
    When I realized that I could visit the library instead of staying home and still not needing to talk to people my life got easier. Well, before my brother started to tell me to get a library friend “You know, that kind of nerdy guy or something that you could talk about books and seem less pathetic”

    And in the library i discovered that i am an introvert (thank you books) and this one time in the dinner table i took it up. My family (expect my brother) understood and now i can be who i am. And even my brother has began to understand me and this one day he came to my room where i was reading a book and said “I want your life. It’s so peaceful and you are so content with being alone and reading a book and living your life being all.. zen. Man, I’d be so happy being you”

  • aikaendi June 5th, 2013 5:29 AM

    I’m relating so much to this! I’m also an introvert (100% even, according to mbti), and even if I love my friends, I just can’t hang out with them all the time.

    Being an introvert is great though, because we don’t ever need to rely on the world around us. We’re independent! Isn’t that a great trait?

    http://aikaendi.blogg.se

  • rlalonde77 June 5th, 2013 8:16 AM

    You should read Quite. The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking!

  • KatGirl June 5th, 2013 9:06 AM

    This is amazing, so relatable. I like to be with other people, just not every frikkin’ minute of my life. Thank you, Hazel.
    :D

  • wallflower152 June 5th, 2013 10:32 AM

    Thank you Hazel and the commenters, introverts unite! I have always been an introvert to the point where I feel and act like a different person around people I feel uncomfortable with. From elementary through college I just want what seems to come so easy to everyone else. I want to be able to interact with people cuz I feel like I would fit in great if I could just get over my shyness. In high school I finally started getting out of my shell a little bit. I had a group of friends that were cool but I didn’t really fit in so I started just mimicking their behavior to fit in and it seemed to work, everyone was like “Sarah I remember when you used to be shy” etc, etc. I felt like I was being fake at the time and looking back I regret doing it cuz it didn’t bring me the happiness and fulfillment that it seems to bring others and I think I’d have been happier spending lunch in the library. In college I was in a study group that became friends and we would hang out every weekend. I really liked them but I dreaded hanging out with them for some reason, now I realize that was introversion. I still struggle with it, I see things like “Friend Crush” on Rookie and I want that so bad but it’s hard when you can’t even strike up a convo with someone who looks cool. But I am finally starting to learn that I feel most like myself while alone reading, biking, general exploring, sewing, crocheting, crafting, etc. And I am finally starting to be ok with that cuz in the end it’s myself that I have to live with and be happy with and I think I am pretty awesome. <3

  • Flavia June 5th, 2013 11:18 AM

    great article!! :)

  • thelilacparadox June 5th, 2013 11:39 AM

    I totally understand this! I’ve been going to a ton of open houses lately, and all I can think about is leaving as soon as possible, not because I don’t like the people or anything, just because I don’t really feel like trying to socialize.

    Extraverts unite!

  • thelilacparadox June 5th, 2013 11:39 AM

    MASSIVE TYPO ALERT. Introverts unite not extraverts. Please don’t hurt me.

  • Ally_O June 5th, 2013 12:11 PM

    This is so relevant to me!! I am also an introvert and people act like if you’re not an extrovert there’s something wrong with you, especially my mom. She gets mad at me for not going out and socializing all the time because she thinks that’s what a normal high school student should do. But I’ve known from a young age that I like to be alone and do activities by myself. I like to hang out with people only when I truly like them, and I don’t have a very good group of friends at my school. I’m hoping that when I get to college I’ll be able to find people I get along with better who I can hang out with more.

  • queenofnothing June 5th, 2013 1:17 PM

    Thanks for this article! It’s so important not to feel like a weirdo being an introvert. I’ve always preferred spending my free time alone or with closest friends. In the middle school I was feeling pretty ok with it, maybe because my friends understood me. But in high school everything changed, suddenly I started to feel alienated and so, so lonely. People in my class were partying, drinking and hanging out together and I was dreaming about doing the same thing and enjoying this, but what I really liked was sitting at home with a book or good movie. I will never enjoy big parties and meeting 20 new people in one evening, it’s just not my thing. And now I’m trying to accept this. This article really helped.

    • Jolinnn June 5th, 2013 3:35 PM

      Oh, you really summed up everything I feel – it’s so frustrating to really want something, but not being able to do something other than sitting next and watching! I am able to enjoy an evening when it’s just me and a few friends, but the more people there are the more uncomfortable I get.

  • glitter riot June 5th, 2013 1:21 PM

    Wow, I didn’t think anyone else felt like this!? I do enjoy going out and spending time with people, but only with my close group of friends. When i’m in large groups of people, most of the time we aren’t really talking about anything interesting, just sort of fooling around and being dumb. I do enjoy meeting people, but only on a one on one basis and I enjoy getting to know them on an individual level. Most of the time i’m actually bored at parties because the people there aren’t having interesting conversation, rather just drinking and playing beer pong, which is cool once in awhile but I prefer going out and actually doing something, such as concerts, museums, poetry readings etc. I know i’m an introvert, but I never saw that as an excuse to not do anything. I always push myself to go out if the opportunity arises and although it does tire me out, I do appreciate the experience whether it was good or bad.

  • Jolinnn June 5th, 2013 3:22 PM

    This touched me immensely. I am thinking and worrying over exact these matters. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  • Rose June 5th, 2013 5:31 PM

    Hazel, we might be soul sisters.

  • pinnedtothepage June 5th, 2013 6:27 PM

    as they say, “company’s ok. solitude is bliss.”

  • forgetwendy June 5th, 2013 9:35 PM

    It’s nice to know that I’m not alone on this. There was a time when I wanted to be more outgoing like my peers and ‘get out of my shell’ as they say. I wanted to have the confidence to go up to somebody, anybody, and have a simple conversation. Make new friends, y’know? But there was always something holding me back. Me. I was basically trying to change my entire personality. I wasn’t meant to be an extrovert, I was meant to be myself which happens to be a person who enjoys staying in and watching tv shows and movies. I knew this from an early age yet here I was trying to change who I am. Recently, I’ve decided to stop trying to force myself into something I wasn’t and be the happiest person I could be. I still feel uncomfortable at large social gatherings and I don’t have many friends, but that’s who I am and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

    Thank you so much, Hazel!

  • Milala June 5th, 2013 10:57 PM

    This speaks right to my soul. It has always been obvious to me that I am an introvert (or at least Shy, before I knew the technical term) but it really does take time to admit to oneself that one does not enjoy being around people as much as “fun” people do. I’m 22 and it only just hit me this year, because you do go through high school thinking Well I just hate these people. But then as you move on to college and it doesn’t get any better, you begin to wonder. I’ve always had the hardest time being the center of attention or having people over at my house. I would just flee the scene, go to my room, even if it was just my friends or family. I need alone time CONSTANTLY. This year I invited a bunch of my boyfriend’s friends and some of mine. I knew the guys, they’re nice, but as the hours passed I began to feel so much ANXIETY than I just went to my room and wept. It made no sense but all I wanted was for them to just leave already, which sounds awful, but it’s just the way I am. Being around people for a long time without having the chance to be left alone makes me feel terrible, and I hate it because I’ve been at my boyfriend’s birthday or at a wedding and everything is really nice but I feel terrible and I look like I hate everyone, which is not true.

    SORRY, super long, but this is hard. People think you’re boring or you don’t like them, and it’s not (always) that. Plus, what you say about the world valuing extraverts is true… sucks for us I guess.

  • nicole_l June 5th, 2013 10:59 PM

    This essay beautifully summed up a feeling I’ve had forever! I always feel like I am just bad at being young; I don’t enjoy bug parties and going out and socializing constantly like my peers seem to. I enjoy being alone and doing quiet things but it always feels like everyone else’s life if much more shiny and glamourous and exciting than mine.

  • Shaniece_LostGirl June 6th, 2013 3:51 AM

    Thanks for making me feel understood. INTROVERTS UNITE!!!— I mean if you want to. We could like read books in separate corners, together… :-/.

    http://youthatlostit.blogspot.ca/

  • peanutbutter June 6th, 2013 8:06 AM

    Ahhh, I’m an INTROVERT! This explains SO MUCH. It’s a simple thing, but it really doesn’t come up much, and to be honest I didn’t even really know what it meant til now. Thank you so much for this article Hazel. It came at the perfect time too, because I had been thinking a lot about all my ‘introverted’ personality traits and getting frustrated a bit lately. Society is definitely designed for more extroverted types.

    http://roadsideflower.tumblr.com/

  • AidaA June 6th, 2013 9:38 AM

    I’m so glad I read this article and was able to connect with it. I found myself going ‘I know!’ and ‘Yes, that’s me!’. The pressure to be outgoing and extroverted can be really overwhelming at times. Ahh I feel so much better for reading this! Great article!

    Aida
    x
    http://sunshinesuperwoman.blogspot.co.uk

  • Mads June 6th, 2013 3:55 PM

    Yes!! I can totally relate. Also, Susan Cain’s TEDTalk on the power of introverts is amazing and reminds me of this article.

  • Lillypod June 6th, 2013 4:05 PM

    this is ace. My favourite example of a textbook, yet totally un-typecast introvert is my best friend. She’s the loudest, most gregarious person I know, yet her comfort zone is wrapped up in her duvet with an old movie, alone. I too crave solitude, but i envy how comfortable she is within it. I care too much that i’m missing out, or that people think i’m being weird…

  • Johann7 June 6th, 2013 4:59 PM

    Fellow introvert here to say, again, there’s nothing wrong with you! I actually stumbled across the psychological definition (which makes a whole lot more sense than the more popularized understanding of introversion/extroversion) recently myself, and it instantly made sense in a very similar way. I work for the Department of Educational Psychology at a university, and one of our professors brought up the concept in a conversation, explaining that while extroverts draw energy from socializing, introverts tend to not and might eventually find extended social activities draining.

    I also wanted to say that it’s possible to develop things like small-talk skills for parties as a conscious exercise so you can deploy them when you want and not have to potentially feel isolated at social events you decide you should/need to attend. Asking questions to find a topic someone is really interested in and then using active listening techniques works really well. It also becomes less exhausting the more you do it (at least it did for me).

    One of my best friends and frequent roommate in a huge extrovert, and knowing him has actually made me feel rather lucky to be introverted, despite the cultural tendency to celebrate extroverted tendencies. If he can’t find people to hang out with most nights a week, he starts going a little nuts, whereas my contentment relies pretty much only on me, so I don’t wind up in a bad mood or anything if everyone I know is busy. Play to your strengths, introverts all. :-)

  • abby111039 June 6th, 2013 5:32 PM

    This is just perfect.

  • artobsessed June 7th, 2013 9:07 AM

    hazel, i have so many feels for you. i am the same way.

  • Indie June 7th, 2013 9:43 AM

    A friend recommended this site and told me I’d love it. After reading only 2 entries I decided to make my own account to share some of my thoughts.

  • OldSport June 7th, 2013 3:37 PM

    I have always been, and will always be, an introvert.

  • dana21 June 7th, 2013 10:55 PM

    What an inspiring read! Halfway through college I dramatically changed from an extrovert to and introvert and while the transition wasn’t exactly smooth, I finally feel like I really know who I am and what I want out of life.

  • The_Idler_Wheel June 13th, 2013 1:49 AM

    I’m an introvert. I’ve always been one. I used to feel guilty for not wanting to “participate” (*couch perks of being a wallflower*) but when I got older and my social life hit an all time high, I realized I still didn’t like going to parties. I still loved spending time alone. There was and is nothing wrong with that. I wish I could explain to the world the difference between not having healthy social experiences/capacity to connect vs. being an introvert. There’s nothing unhealthy about the way I am :)

  • hatchetface June 16th, 2013 1:33 PM

    This is one of the most comforting Rookie articles I have ever read, I can relate to it totally. I often wonder why I fail at being a teenager but I just enjoy my own company and need to spend a lot of time alone. It’s just harder to know that there are other people like you because they’re not seen or heard.

  • cornly_ June 29th, 2013 12:12 AM

    you know what, this is the most amazing thing i have ever read here on rookie.

    i just started college like, 2 weeks ago, and it’s not fun okay. i actually miss high school (not my classmates though, just my friends). Everyone in college is too pretentious and conceited and random and that kinda sorta terrifies me.

    I don’t know what to say everytime I talk to people, I always stutter everytime I say something (nothing coherent comes out of my mouth tbh) I always get awkward, class recitations make me sweat and I shake real badly, I hate talking to people, but I try, because I know I have to. I want to be alone. Alone with the people i’m comfortable with, you know?
    but sometimes, though, I wish I wasn’t like this. Like a moronic, self-conscious, quiet, gawky piece of shit. Because it’s hard to not know what to say, or to do know what to say but not know how to say it. I just want to be comfortable with myself, and confident, at least a little bit because confidence can help you from time to time.
    But anyway, thanks again Rookie (specifically Hazel hehe). This is amazing.

  • sincerely artista September 7th, 2013 10:54 PM

    When I first found out I was an introvert, I cried because I thought that meant a lifetime of being the third wheel and always having to fake smile and laugh in the cafeteria. But now, since reading this article, it is nice to know that you can accept yourself and enjoy what you naturally are drawn to doing. This article is absolutely necessary. Everybody should read it. Now I won’t have to feel any sense of shame or guilt any time I choose to do what I need to detox from the rest of the loud, noisy, overwhelming world. Thank you Hazel!

  • dessertstealer September 10th, 2013 10:41 PM

    This blog post makes me happier about being an introvert. =)

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