Already I am questioning the choice of words. Introvert. Is it really a title I can give myself? I’m rarely the least vocal in a group yet never the most out-spoken, never the token blabber mouth. I would say I am perceived as being calmly confident enough to dip in and out of participation as I please. And while I do possess a collection of odd little things which make me nervous in social situations, there are still many more things which frighten me more than people. I have always been aware that being able to relate to others has its perks and necessities in life. In fact, whole parts of my life have cycled around people; they occupied my weekly routine and probably most of my thoughts.
However, over the years I’ve been trimming the fat off and now I’m really just left with myself (okay and the precious ones that I can’t go without). When I say I am left by myself, this isn’t an admission of loneliness or regret. What I have come to realise is that being more of an introvert (or just living in a more independent way) has, in certain ways, simplified and improved my life. While this is my experience and not that of anybody else, I feel the need to describe why introversion/independence should be given a little more consideration as a lifestyle choice.
Hi you, meet you.
One of the most significant perks of spending more time alone is you really get to know yourself. That time spent apart from others cuts out a lot of that unnecessarily polite time that is expected of you when in company. When your life is particularly driven by socialising, I feel that a lot of brain space is given over to others. And while it is important to think about your friends – what if you get so caught up in others you forget about yourself?
Spending time trying to console the love life problems of others or helping friends to make career decisions may seem like a great act of kindness, but focus too much on it and the results could be disastrous on a personal level. Filling all that brain space up with other people’s issues leaves little space to reflect on yours. So while you may have helped somebody else sort their life out, what is left of your own?
By being a tad more self-centred (I mean this in a positive way) becomes a lot easier to dedicate time to discover how you feel and what you want to. It’s quite simple. The more independent you are, the less compromise and time wasting there is in your life. Basically by not being afraid to be alone, you become surer of yourself, making it easier to lead a more contented and hassle free life.
Loneliness Shouldn’t Be A Problem.
Another thing that I have learnt from living as a loner: my relationships with my friends are actually better. Maybe this is not a universal experience for everybody but I have a theory. While people are sociable creatures and we need human contact to survive, we are also irritable non-patient things. No matter how much you get along with someone and no matter what your disposition is spend too much time with anyone and they are bound to rub you up the wrong way.
Spending too much time with any friend can only bring your friendship into a couple of different unfortunate directions:
A) They become boring and uninteresting to you
B) You fight
C) The friendship dies.
These possibilities don’t appear to be appealing ones, no? Okay, some people might be better at mastering the dynamic of constant contact then others, but if everything gets overcooked I’d say the options above are generally unavoidable. If however, you manage to meet up with a good friend every once and a while, it is easier to be excited about their presence and be more interested in what they have to say. This entails that you will keep caring about each other, allowing meaningful and interesting friendships to ensue for years.
Nights In Are Your Best Friend.
On a simpler note, when choosing a more introverted lifestyle one definitely benefits from less night out horrors. Calling a night out a horror? Wow, I really don’t sound fun now, do I? A great night out has the potential to be an excellent thing. Yet, a night out is not a guaranteed good thing. Rather than being a well-oiled machine of reliable entertainment, many things can lead the night astray. Puking or crying drunken friends, lost purses and phones, a lack of interesting people in attendance; these are the risks we take when buying into the hangover and overdraft inducing socialisation.
Sometimes, we are lucky and none of these nightmares are the reality of socialising. A night out has the ability to swing two ways; a complete disaster or potentially entertaining. At some point in your life you might no longer want your evenings to be monopolised like this. When you decide that nights out are no longer really your thing, suddenly that chance of disaster is gone. You become the master of your own time and you can do exactly as you wish meaning that no night is ever really a disappointment – unless of course the internet crashes.
You’re Not Really An Introvert, But It’s Okay to Be One.
I do of course still like spending time with people. People can make you laugh, can tell you interesting stories and can even care a lot about you. What I’m not so fond of is the pressure to do everything together. Social lives in a way have become a bit of a commodity. Is it not “social suicide” to not be part of some sort of “squad” to convey your happy Instagram life to all of your faceless followers? Even without social media, I feel if you tell someone you don’t have much of a social life or you enjoy doing things on your own, they might smile and nod. But there is always a sense of confusion. Besides, socialising is rarely very communicative or personal anymore.
We rely heavily on digital props to get any kind of discussion going. It is not an uncommon sight to see an entire group of friends together and each one is communicating with someone. But it’s a Facebook friend not their friends in the flesh in front of them. However, not all hope is lost. While having a good social life isn’t always conducive to a happy life. I still believe there are good friendships out there. And if your life is filled with good friendships, all the great things there are to be gained from independence will not be lost.