What It’s Like Being an Introvert

I’ve been called a lot of things over the years: quiet, shy, reserved, socially awkward, rude, a bitch, weird, anxious, anti-social. I’ve heard the cliche, “It’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for!” so many times that I may actually punch the next person who says it to me right in the face. I get “You’re so quiet!” and “Why don’t you talk?” so much that it shouldn’t even bother me anymore. But it does.

I’ve been The Quiet Girl pretty much my entire life. I remember it really starting around age 7, which is when my family moved to the US from Canada. I don’t know if that’s what sparked my extreme self-consciousness, or if I was just destined to be this way, but that is the only event I can pinpoint that may have had something to do with it.

I’ve always preferred reading and being by myself to being around a lot of people. People make me anxious. I can handle one-on-one situations pretty well, but as soon as there are more people added to the mix I clam up and want to melt through the floor to escape. This poses a huge problem for me at work since I’m sometimes singled out in meetings. I react exactly the same way I have all my life: I turn beet red, I start to shake, my eye twitches, and I forget how to put sentences together. Sometimes I’ll even have a full-fledged panic attack, complete with pounding heart, ringing in my ears, and nervous sweat. I’m just the picture of professionalism.

One of my biggest fears in terms of social situations is speaking on the phone in front of other people. Even at home, I prefer to talk on the phone in private instead of in front of my husband, and I love and trust him. Talking on the phone at work is a HUGE source of anxiety for me. Every time the phone rings I say a quiet prayer begging God that the call is not for me. It’s one thing to just have to have a normal conversation, but Heaven forbid it be an angry client who is demanding answers or solutions to a problem. I hate to admit this, but there have been numerous times I’ve just NOT SAID ANYTHING in response to a client’s question hoping that they will get frustrated with me and hang up. And when I have to call people in other countries who don’t speak English as a first language? I will sometimes pretend that no one answered the phone or that they hung up on me, just so that I can send an email instead. I often “forget” to call people back, or I wait until everyone else is at lunch so I can make the call in semi-privacy. Today I had to call some clients and apologize for a mistake with their hotel. I purposely waited until a time that I thought they would be out to dinner just so that I could say I “tried” to reach them but couldn’t. Life would be so much easier if everyone would just communicate in writing instead of speaking.

People often misconstrue my quietness for rudeness. In reality, I just don’t want to make a fool out of myself so I keep my thoughts and opinions to myself. It also takes me time to process social situations, so I often won’t have an answer or an opinion until much later, after I’ve had time to think about the conversation. People have told me I’m stuck up or conceited, which couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m not talking to you, not because I think I’m better than you, but because I sometimes think YOU’RE better than ME.

Honestly, I just find it exhausting having to be around people. It takes so much energy to socialize and try to appear somewhat normal. Small talk is excruciating for me.

I’m clearly in the wrong profession because I am definitely not a people person. However, finding a job that requires very little interaction with others and pays a decent amount of money is surprisingly hard to come by. I’ve begun submitting my résumé for more computer-focused positions and I’m thinking about taking an online writing class. I can’t think of a better situation than to be able to stay home and write all day AND get paid for it. The only thing better would be to read all day and get paid to write about books. How do I make this happen?

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9 thoughts on “What It’s Like Being an Introvert

  1. Hi Erin,

    (GREAT name by the way. 🙂 I found your blog on BlogHer and thought I’d pop on over here to leave my comment.

    I’m an introvert, too. I also write about how hard it is to be around other people when I’d really like to just hang out by myself. That sounds depressing to some, but for me, it’s bliss. All throughout my youth I also got told that I thought I was better than everyone else or that I was “bitchy.” I was just painfully shy.

    Your essay touched me because I can relate. Thank you for being honest. I think honesty helps people connect and feel less alone.

    Also, I found that writing helps me tremendously. And I read a lot, too. I have dreams of becoming a book editor. I want to get paid to read, too!

    Best,
    Erin
    erinbettis.com

    • Hi Erin!

      Thanks so much for taking the time to come over here and comment. I kind of just threw this post together after a bad couple of high-anxiety days, and although I hoped it would reach people, I never actually expected it to. It makes me feel great knowing that other people can relate and I’m not alone in this!

      On my way to check out your blog now!

  2. I can TOTALLY relate Erin! Killeen often has to make doctor appointments for me, and usually go with me for the same reasons… If only they could examine me through e-mail! I get flustered in person, and don’t make my case well enough.
    There are so many things I do after hours so I don’t have to talk to anyone. Or, like you said, just e-mail or use a web portal.
    I don’t get called bitchy, but most other names ring a bell.
    As for small talk, well, you know how I am… Although when I get started on something I’m interested in, I just won’t shut up!
    I’m so thankful for technology, and the advancement of smartphones, online shopping, etc… It’s made it much easier for day to day life, and limiting those interactions.

    • Technology has definitely improved my life drastically – especially texting and online shopping. Now I can send a quick text instead of getting stuck on the phone on an awkward conversation, and I ac order whatever I need from the privacy of my own home instead of having to deal with salespeople.

      • Also, with texting, there’s not that awkward time when you can’t quite understand what someone is saying because of an accent, or noise, or whatever where you have to ask them to repeat themselves 5 times…
        As for online ordering, I fell in love with the magic of Amazon when living in Alaska. Not only can you get everything there, you can order without fear of the judgmental mail carriers thinking things about you (other than you’re a shut-in) because they’ll have no clue what’s in the box. Unless of course it’s large, and the shipping dept just slaps a label on the product box… I’ve had that happen a few times. Still!

  3. […] the Trevi Fountain 16. Visit the Sistine Chapel 17. Eat at Durty Nelly’s 18. Start a blog 19. Write something that got featured on Blogher 20. Drink around the world at Epcot 21. Graduate from college with honors 22. Graduate from high […]

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