i am me?

do you ever wonder who you really are- like what things are inherently 'you' and what traits are just false opinions of yourself? or are all your characteristics mere opinions, with no real evidence of truth? what can i blame on genetics, and what must i take responsibility for?

sometimes i wish for traits that i'm not sure i'll ever have. i would like to be more of an extrovert, that enjoys being the center of attention. currently, i have been afraid of public speaking since about 8th grade, feel overwhelmed when i don't have enough alone time, and i'd usually rather stay in with a few friends and do art than go out and party (though from time to time i crave to let loose, and eh hem... get tanked and dance!). i'm pretty sure psychology would say 'you're an introvert', and 'you have such and such abilities because you are reflective and analytical', etc.

ok, so i'm an introvert. i'd rather spend time with just a few people, i enjoy solitary activities like screen printing and writing, and i do tend to feel drained when i must keep up social interaction for extended periods of time. but then i think to myself...

if one has the capability to change 'negative' qualities about oneself, can one become more of an extrovert? sometimes i feel very envious of my that friends that can party all night, are genuinely interested in talking to a stranger, and will just try something before standing back and observing it.

perhaps i should just stop viewing my lack of 'socialability' as negative, and begin embracing all of me. i think one of the main problems for me is my jealousy towards extroverts! why can't i be that outgoing?? why must i stand back here and and plan and process the situation before joining it??

science says that introverts have more blood flow in the frontal lobes of the brain- where internal processing and problem solving take place. but science also recognizes that human beings are very complex; and can act like an introvert in one case, then act like an extrovert in another. i don't want to stereotype myself, and think i always have to act in a certain way- especially when i know if i act more extroverted that i may have more to gain in some situations.

i just read a bit about personality types, and was reminded that extroverts are definitely more favored in western society. i totally agree, and think a lot of my negative feelings towards introversion may stem from my experiences at school. the american education system most definitely needs an upgrade (this is a whole other blog or book in itself), but i definitely remember feelings of being an outcast or a dork because i wasn't as 'popular'; because i was quiet and would rather read a book or draw than lead tag at recess or give a report in front of the class. teachers would write on my report card 'very intelligent, BUT very quiet'. like being quiet is a bad thing.

i actually had to see the school "psychologist" (im putting that in quotation marks because she was terrible) because i was too shy and scared to go to a sleepaway camp field trip in 5th grade. she told me i would regret this for the rest of my life, and would always feel left out when fellow students talked about it. guess what? i felt left out for about a week, and then no one even remembered i didn't go to camp jewell. fuck, i still wouldn't want to go to camp jewell, and would resent anyone that told me i was strange for not wanting to be surrounded by people for 120 hours straight.

i've also lost a few friends because of my introverted personality. of course with time, now i realize those people most likely weren't the best friends for me if they wouldn't let me simply be me; but it most surely is a tricky balance if one friend is more introverted and the other is more extroverted. learning to give one another the space to be alone or social is highly important in relationships like this, and is a great learning experience for both personality types. hehe so extroverts, i admire and welcome you, but please give me some space!

so back to my first question- should i attempt to change aspects of my introversion that i find not very useful? well, i guess first i need to consider if i think they are harmful, or if i am responding to conditioning to view these traits as negative? man, if only i had grown up in japan i might be a real gem haha ;) introversion is very much favored there...

well i know there isn't an answer for me right now, but i do enjoy asking myself these questions. i love to learn about myself and how i relate to the world. please, if anyone has any suggestions for me, please let me know! thank you <3 xoxo

Comments

  1. first of all, fuck camp jewell!
    secondly, i think you can find a happy medium between both intro and extrovert. i tend to more intro because i grew up as an only child, and i always enjoy hanging out with myself, and find ways to keep myself preoccupied. in my travels, i have lived in different cities and learned many things about myself because of this.
    pittsburgh: i moved there from my hometown in west virginia pretty soon after i graduated. i lived with my aunt until i found an apartment. my aunt was the only person i knew in pittsburgh. i eventually found an apt., and became friends with my coworkers (all who were older women), but found it hard to make friends. and date. ugh. i hated dating then. anyway, i became very introverted. i was a hermit. i would go to work, come home, walk the neighborhood, make my little dinner, and watch reruns of sex in the city. it was pitiful. but i was healthy otherwise, very trim from all the walking i did. i eventually became close friends with a girl at work named bridget. she was also born in october and we were almost exactly 10 years apart! she was my life coach, i adored her, i still do ;) i have never laughed so hard in my life with this girl! she became pregnant, and we would hang out, watch hockey games together and eat pie. i gained about 10lbs sympathy weight with her, haha. but other than that, the only times i ever "went out" were to go to dinner with my aunt, or on random dates with guys that i had been set up with.
    cleveland: my job in pittsburgh gave me the option of moving to cleveland. i took it, i thought, hey why not, a change would be good! and it was. i was scared shitless, but it was worth it. everyone at work was female and my age...we all got along perfectly, we worked hard, and played harder. they helped to dress me all trendy, and we would go out, party, date. i was nervous about all of this at first. it wasnt easy for me. i had been hermiting in my own little shell for so long, i felt like a dork when i conversed with people in public. i was like a newborn griaffe trying to stand up. but eventually i got used to it. and one night i just let go. it was with abby, she was a creative extrovert who loved dancing. i again, felt awkward when i danced. i had never really liked to dance growing up.afraid of what others would think of my skills. but with abby, she basically just told me "who cares! just let go! come dance with me!!" and i did, and it was awesome. i danced like i didnt care and i had a blast, and i was free! we went out a lot, and trust me, we had a blast! but that lifestyle caught up with me...too many late nights, drinking...i was tired and felt unhealthy. eventually, i moved in with my boyfriend in
    strasburg: little country town with nuthin ta do!haha and i love it. it is beautiful, calming, healthy, just the remedy i needed. and we still go out on occaision, but its usually nothing too crazy. and i have had more time to myself again to paint, find myself, do yoga all that good stuff. but i feel that after that growing experience within that i had on the dance floor that night, i can be content now in my introvert ways because i know that whenever i want to be an extrovert, i can, because i know its in me somewhere, and i dont have to be afraid of it. :)
    sidenote: also, when i go out, i usually do talk to strangers because you never know who you will meet, and the new things you will learn :) i do however gravitate towards older people tho, for instance, i picked up a new 60 yr old friend at wedding reception this past weekend, we shared cooking ideas, and she gave me her card haha. im callin her!
    hope this helps you. but you should embrace your introvertedness, it is part of who you are....think of all your lovely creations youve made during your introversion...

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  2. Good post Hayley. It's funny. I can relate totally to everything you say except I think people see me as a extrovert.
    I can only take being with people for so long. I truly need my down time and get downright nasty when I'm denied or have to many obligations.
    I too use to think something was wrong with me but now I honor the whole me.
    When I am ready to socialize, I can be the life of the party. When I'm teaching yoga, I have no problem taking command of 5 or 500 people. I can easily get up in front of a bar of people and sing (karoake) completely sober. BUT, when I am not in the mood, look out. I won't answer the door or phone. My parents and friends don't like that.
    I need a lot of time to let my creative juices flow.
    I also feel like I absorb peoples energy really easy and I attract energy vampires. I'm completely drained after teaching in certain venues or being with certain people. High strung people stress me out badly.

    You're young. When we are in our 20's and early thirties we are still learning our place in society and learning what we like and don't like. Eventually you will know and except yourself in your organic nature.

    Embrace your uniqueness. Embrace solitude. I feel bad for people who don't like to be alone. Time alone is a precious gift I give to myself.

    You're perfect Hayley. You are exactly where you are supposed to be.

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  3. Ah, a much debated topic... my boyfriend and I sometimes talk about this: being able to control one's personality. He argues that he has literally CHOSEN his personality for the most part, and sculpts himself into whomever he wants to be at that time. He is a mega introvert (you thought you were, you should meet him!) and he has a really hard time with that, and is constantly trying to change himself to be more social so he can go out with me to things, but he is having a very hard time. Some of it is definitely social anxiety, some of it is no desire to be surrounded by people he doesn't know.

    Anyways, I've always been a half-and-half. I can be extroverted when I want to be, but deep down I don't like to be bothered much, love alone time, and would probably rather just hang with a friend or to and do artsy stuff (Hayley we can do that anytime!) and in college, I used to actually take longer routes to class just to avoid seeing people. Embrace it. I've always gotten along better with introverts anyways. Who cares what WESTERNERS think; introverted people are more self-aware, reflective, observant, a lot of the time more intelligent, and they tend to be more "interesting" once you get to know them! <3

    -Amanda

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  4. Camp Jewel was probably one of my worst school experiences! It just proved that I was even more different than my classmates than I had originally thought. I found that instead of spending the typical school day hours trying to be accepted by my peers, I had to really spend the entire week doing so, it was exhausting...I cried a lot when everyone was asleep because I was so afraid to be myself and just wanted to go out for a walk or lay under a tree by myself. I feel like majority of childhood educators ridicule children who want to be left alone and their display in their actions really sets the precedence for their students.
    As an adult I would still claim myself to be an introvert, I love running by myself, painting and drawing alone, reading etc. But when it comes to my children and working with other children I see myself turn into an extrovert and I often wonder if it is natural behavior for me or if I am trying to guide the children into an extroverts path in fear that they will have the same negative experiences as I did.
    Don’t get me wrong, I love going out with my family and friends to have a great night! But often times I can’t wait until we get home and snuggle up in our nest. So I wonder if I can consider myself like 80% introvert and 20% extrovert?! It’s a tough call, but as long as we know we are being true to ourselves and not acting in a way to impress anyone else, I think it’s OK to explore both side every now and again :)

    -Emily

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  5. rachael- you are freakin hilarious... fuch camp jewell, love it hehe :) ... and i love what you said about still staying open to meeting people, and being a bit of an extrovert in that way.. because yeah, most people, once i get to know them, i end up really liking for having qualities that maybe i dont have. and of course, people can teach you a lot, and help to guide you on your path. this is one way i want to be more outgoing- in just loving and trying to find an understanding with people i meet. and having extrovert friends that bring you out of your shell is huge- what a growing experience... and to take you out and allow you to feel confident on the dancefloor- there's nothing like having fun, letting loose, and dancing with your friends... some of the most exhilirating moments of my life were dancing with women i love.

    mish- i love to hear your perspective and your wisdom. i feel very lucky to have found you over FB. you help me a lot to keep things in perspective, and i cant thank you enough for your encouragement. i hope one day to meet you! your kind words really help me, and just knowing that i need a little more acceptance of myself because i am perfect the way i am- well that just makes me feel like everything is going to work out ok! thank you mish xo

    amanda- you got me thinking that it's true, we are not fully one way or the other, but rather a mix of personalities. for sure from time to time i am very outgoing and funny, and at other times i am very reserved and shy... so we are all just finding a good healthy balance between out introversion and extroversion. haha taking the long route at school to not see people... this makes me laugh because i can see myself doing the same... i still do this sometimes when i see someone out and about that i dont feel like talking to ;) ... and thank for making me feel better about being an introvert as well. introverts are very interesting, and i find getting to know them can take longer but is almost always very much worth it. thank you love xo

    emily- oh sweetie- i am so sorry that camp jewell sucked for you too ! i know i would have had the same issues had i gone.. i probably would have been even worse- crying during the day in front on classmates hehe! i would have been outcast. the school system makes me very angry, it is not nurturing of children's individuality. if youre not like everyone else- outgoing and social, you just become like a nerd in your classmates eyes... and they must get this mentality from somewhere, from home or from the teachers... and it's not fair. i don't know what im going to do when i have children- but i feel very uncomfortable with the thought of them going through what i did. i could see why you might encourage your kinds to be more extroverted of course, to protect them from being outcast by their peers. it is a shame that the american school system refuses to budge, and doesn't have the funding to do so. i am so similar to you- i enjoy and thrive on a nice night out here and there, but would usually prefer my 'nest' as well :) family is so important, and having a sanctuary to recharge in. yes, just accepting and loving ourselves for our strengths and weaknesses, maybe with more focus on the strengths- this is the key.

    thank you everyone so much for the insight!! it is all very helpful and encouraging, and is continuing to help my growth :) namaste !

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