The introvert's dilemma

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It’s taken me years to make peace with the fact that I’m in fact, an introvert. As a child, I thought being soft spoken was uncool… all of the popular kids were loud and charismatic, and I wanted to be more like them. But as someone who despises parties and meaningless small talk, I’ve come to the realization that it’s not something I can fix but a personality trait that’s deeply engrained in me.

For the past few months, I’ve been giving myself more time to be alone with my own thoughts instead of drowning them out with constant distractions (you know… music, TV, cellphones). Secretly, I’ve been scared that maybe I don’t even like people that much, and I wanted to dig deeper. Going to a party and talking to strangers is my biggest nightmare. When you put two people that don’t know each other into a conversation, it’s like two awkward people trying to dance but they keep stepping on each other’s toes. Since I know nothing about the person, we end up talking about a safe topic like the weather, current events, or what someone’s wearing. And then my eyes glaze over and I zone out because why the heck am I spending all of this energy, talking about topics I can care less about to someone I probably will never see again. I usually leave parties feeling uninspired and drained.

My day is already spent on exhausting tasks like going to work and folding laundry. I don’t need to spend the precious time I have left on meeting people I probably have nothing in common with. Reading books in bed or working on one of my creative projects sound like a less stressful way to spend the night. But that doesn’t mean I hate all human interactions.

Although the circle of people I let in is small, I cherish quality 1:1 time with the ones I like. If you inspire me creatively, we’ll talk about our perspectives on art and the experiences that shaped who we are as artists. If you inspire me intellectually, we’ll talk about what a perfect world consists of and discuss the meaning of life. We’ll recommend stimulating books to each other and mentor each other. We can watch an indie film and dissect it together. Or maybe you can come over and we’ll cook a simple dinner with glasses of wine in hand.

When I think back to my college years, I don’t have any meaningful memories from drunken frat parties. All of the memories I’ve kept close are from late night hangout sessions in someone’s dorm room where we opened up about our insecurities over a box of cheese pizza. I love having a deep conversation with someone but that will most likely not happen at a party with music so loud, it vibrates my bones.

Once I came to the realization that I don’t hate people, I’ve started to love the introvert inside me. It’s okay that I hate shallow conversations with strangers. I can spend that energy on building stronger relationships with the people I care about. And once I start trusting you and letting you in, you can be sure that I’ll support you and be your biggest fan.

lifestyleRui Nakata