Sometimes I wish I were an introvert

Sometimes I wish I were an introvert. Or that I weren’t an extrovert. Do you have to be one or the other?

It took me a long time to recognize that I have a real need to see my friends, to sit down with them and have a meaningful conversation. If I don’t get that, I start to feel off. And there is nothing, not writing here or texting with someone, that can give me what sitting across from someone and talking gives me. 

I’m a weird brand of extrovert. I can do big gatherings but they don’t fill my cup. I only walk away fulfilled if I’ve found someone I can really talk to about more than just the niceties. I need to have that deep, meaningful conversation. I need to feel that very real connection. 

Standing in front of my students doesn’t do it for me. Chatting with a colleague at work doesn’t do it for me. Being with my kids doesn’t do it for me. Texting or emailing help, but they aren’t enough. They are like a meal replacement bar when what I really need is a nourishing plate of food. 

Most days I have just enough–between writing here, receiving and responding to comments, commenting on other people’s blogs, texting and emailing with friends, and the occasional chat with someone to sustain me. But it’s not enough for me to feel truly satisfied, if that makes sense (and I feel like an ass saying that, like what others give me isn’t enough, but it’s just who I am. I NEED that face to face, meaningful interaction.)

I know introverts have it hard. I know they are swimming against the current, being asked to participate in ways that exhaust them. I’m sure it’s incredibly difficult. But sometimes I envy them, because they don’t need anyone else to fill their cup. They need to find space and solitude, and while I recognize that can be almost impossible to come by, at least it doesn’t require a second, willing and able participant. 

I NEED someone else to feel fulfilled. I can get by on my own for a certain amount of time but eventually my cup runs low and the only thing that can fill it is seeing a friend. And what do I do if my friends aren’t available? Or they live far away? Or they have kids and no coverage? It sucks to depend on others, especially when they are introverts and don’t depend on you. Especially when being with you is what depletes them. 

So sometimes I wish I were an introvert, so that a long solitary walk, or reading a good book, or just lying in bed would fill me up. Because I can make those things happen. It’s tricky and requires a lot of work, but I can manage it. But finding a friend to have dinner with and making plans for that to happen? Most of the time that is damn near impossible. And I hate being dependent on others to feel like my best self. 

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? What is hard about what you need?

23 Comments

  1. so…I consider myself an introvert (and also test as one on any personality test) but I still need/want what you are describing. I think introvert/extrovert is not as clear cut as its made out to be….

    But your point remains—you wish you were the type of person to not need something that you are finding so hard to actually get in your life. Yes, I feel like that too, about lots of things. I wish I didn’t need friends, or love to eat yummy food, or like nice clothes & eating out and spending money, or needing certain things in a relationship/marriage.

    1. This is a really good point, and I speak to it in response to Annie’s comment as well. I think what I’m looking for does fall outside the distinction of introvert or extrovert. So I guess it’s not that I wish I were an introvert, it’s that I wish I didn’t have needs that I can’t meet independently of other people. I just had being dependent on others, because then it feels like my happiness is out of my own control.

  2. You know, I never really thought about the introvert/extrovert distinction much until I started reading your blog. You seem to fins lot of meaninf in the distinction. The personality quizzes seem to say I’m an extrovert but I think I have introverted qualities too. But honestly, that distinction just isn’t meaningful to my life. I don’t feel advantaged or disadvantaged in ways having to do with being an extrovert or introvert.

    I can sometimes be fulfilled by reading or listening to a podcast but ultimately I want someone to share things with. I think I spend a lot of time on Facebook because I am seeking connection. And of course I’m ultimately disatisfied.

    1. You know, I never really thought about introverts or extroverts much until I read about it in a book and it helped me better understand my daughter and her needs. It also helped me better understand why so many of my friends don’t initiate getting together much, which really used to bother me. Understanding that they needed solitude more and so weren’t as inclined to seek out interaction helped me feel more confident about those friendships (after a while of always being the one to initiate it’s hard not to think that maybe people don’t want to hang out with me, but are too nice to say no when I invite them out). Learning about in-/extroverts also helped me recognize my own needs better, so that I could better meet them. So I guess I have kind of latched on to that distinction, probably more than I should, because in the end you stated it perfectly, I’m just looking for connection, and that is something both introverts and extroverts want.

  3. You made me choke with laughter. I have extroverted friends who cannot be in a car for 5 mins without calling another person on the phone. That is extreme. I am introverted and have lots of introverted friends. Yes, we can manage without another person constantly there, but we also need people. Not the crowd but the individual connection. Introverts are not hermits. We need, like, cherish time with others … just with some moderation, so we feel/experience being heard and seen.
    What you describe wanting is normal for a introvert. What you describe not being filled by is normal for an introvert. Everyone has some of both in them unless they are on the outer fringes of an extreme. Celebrate your introversion side because CLEARLY it is there!

  4. I’m kind of a hybrid. I tested as INTJ and then later as ENTJ. I don’t hate big crowds but I don’t seek them out either. I like interactions with friends but I am also perfectly happy alone. I’m not exhausted by being around others or anything. So it seem I am kind of lucky in this regard.

  5. I do find it helpful to think about introversion and extroversion, but it is so much more complicated than that. It’s good to think of it as a spectrum rather than a dichotomy. So, if anybody gets more people time than they’re comfortsble with, or not enough, they are unhappy. But how much is too much will vary.

    I lived for 1.5 years with my cousin. I liked to go out to big, loud places with groups, then come home to quiet. She liked to have 2 or 3 people she was close with and be with them constantly. Needless to say, it wasn’t a good match. But I couldn’t say for sure which of us was the more extroverted.

  6. If I could change one thing about my personality, it would be introversion. I hate it. I hate that I am a great friend, really good at what I do at work, and society doesn’t fucking value any of it. I might also be on my second glass of wine tonight, so reduce those feelings by 50% . Or just take out the “fucking.” πŸ™‚

    1. I’ve been thinking about your comment for a while now. I would love to talk with you more about this. I wish you weren’t so far away… πŸ™

  7. I seem to sit right on the border between introvert and extrovert, but I do seem to need that connection that you describe, regardless of my introvert or extrovert status of the week. It’s hard to be loud enough to be heard with proper extroverts around. In group interviews I don’t shine at all because my strength is being unflappable under pressure and doing good work quietly without making a fuss about it getting done. It’s a funny thing to be in a profession where almost everyone is an introvert or close to it. When we get together it’s really awkward and/or a bunch of very small groups of close friends who are standing in a big room near many other groups. I guess I am happy with myself and can manage with longer spaces between connections in person so it becomes enough. Almost. I don’t want big recognition, just the little ones that really matter to me. It was a struggle to accept that I need what I need and it isn’t wrong or inconvenient, but just life that this is how I am. It still is a struggle.

    1. So interesting that yours is a profession of introverts. I wonder if more teachers are extroverts. I would guess that is the case–we certainly never shut up when we’re all hanging out together. πŸ˜‰

      I think it really comes down to needing that connection, but I wonder if for me it has to be face to face more than other methods, because of my extroversion? Or maybe it is something else. In the end I guess it doesn’t matter WHY you need something, as long as you recognize what you need.

  8. I’m a complete introvert. Finding the quiet, alone time to recharge my batteries isn’t too difficult, though it doesn’t always come exactly when I need it. Still, it’s not really about that. The hardest thing about being a true introvert is how much a lot of situations take out of you. Sometimes, having to socialize in certain ways (though not all ways) takes so much out of me that I feel like I’ve had some kind of set back in life and I need to rehab from it more than an hour of reading can provide.

    It’s kind of like when you go on a hectic vacation and get home and feel like you need a vacation from your vacation, if that makes sense. It takes longer than it should to get my bearings back after particular situations.

    1. I have heard that about being an introvert–how draining it can be. My friend is a teacher and an introvert and she says a day of teaching just takes it all out of her. She can barely do one social thing during the work week because she is so wiped.

      I am also a teacher and while I don’t find teaching energizing, I think it is less draining for me than it would be for an introvert. I’m definitely tired after a day of teaching, but I don’t think it’s from interacting with people all day. That exhaustion would most certainly be harder to manage than I realize.

  9. I totally identify with this post. My husband often feels offended when I want to go out for a drink or whatever with friends, b/c he TOTALLY doesn’t get how much I need to outside connection with people and friends. It’s tough when your spouse is on a different page.

    1. My husband never feels offended–sometimes I think he wants me to get out of the house so he can have the couch (and TV) all to himself! We actually work nicely in that we’re usually really good with the time the other one needs alone. It’s when we’re together that we have issues–that is probably NOT good, huh?

  10. Funny, you sound more like me and I consider myself an introvert. I like walking alone, reading, blogging and all sorts of introvert activities. I don’t enjoy big crowds and parties. However, I love and need one-on-one time with close friends on a regular basis.

  11. I think, as Ana pointed out, the question is not so much a matter of introversion/extroversion, but of dependency. “Independence” was a highly valued quality in my family (still is), but I certainly internalized that as ‘if you depend on anyone ever, you’re doing something wrong’. So, every time I depended on anyone or needed to ask anyone for anything – seriously, anything – I felt both guilty and ashamed. Which was often, partly because I was a child and partly because I’m a human being. Dependency is built into the fabric of our being. It is a beautiful thing, except when we need people who are not dependable, or we’re depending on someone who proves to be unreliable. I still struggle with asking some people for some things, but now I also revel in asking certain people for things that I know they are thrilled to be able to provide me with. Interdependency, then. It’s never equal, but it can be mutual. It’s late and I’m rambling, but the question of dependence and independence is something I continue to struggle with, so I wanted to share what I could…

  12. Oh god, why i’m so late to realized how fortunate to be an introvert? Thanks, your story give me an enlightment!

  13. I think actually what you are craving is an intuitive connection versus sensing (re Myers Briggs). I am also an extroverted intuitive and I feel the same need for a deeper connection and understanding. I need to say the things that aren’t said and explore the dark as well as the light outside myself with another person.

    I just had a night out with an extroverted intuitive friend and we talked about ideas and deep things and things other people wouldn’t want to think about all night and it was so satisfying and freeing to feel like I don’t need to hide my thoughts or act a certain way because people will feel uncomfortable.

    1. Nicole, I think you hit the nail on the head with looking for an intuitive vs sensing connection. Im highly introverted and yet if I can have those deep long talks about something meaningful with someone that totally make me fly high. But it seems hard to find others that are looking for that same kind of connection. Glad I came across this old thread. At least that helps define what Im looking for, even if I dont know how to find it.

  14. I feel exactly the same way and I empathise. As an introverted extrovert or ENFP in mbti terms, I crave authentic connection and being alone just doesn’t cut it for me. Like you said, friends are too busy for us yet it’s not as easy as just joining meetup.com or making new friends. It takes time to cultivate trust and authentic friendships which means it’s a lot more misses than hits of making even one authentic connection at a random gathering. Even with new friends, they end up invariably being busier. Since I don’t have a family and am an adopted child, I am pretty much on my own. Thks for sharing and it’s my hope that by building an online tribe to reach out to likeminded people, it will translate to a fuller life offline. I wish you all the best and hang in there. God bless and Happy New Year pursuing your dreams and happiness. πŸ™‚

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