May 13, 2014

I Think I Figured Out Why I'm Introverted

I am a self-proclaimed, undeniable introvert. I need alone time, and I need to be prepared for social interactions. I don’t dislike people – as is a common misconception – but I do use up energy rather than gain energy from being around people. All of these attributes, amongst others, point to my introverted nature.

However, I’ve always been puzzled by the fact that there are a few select people, maybe about 5-7 in total, that I would spend every waking minute with if I could. These are people who I adore being around. That’s not to say I don’t love being around other people! But there is something about this core group that draws me to their company and their love.

All of this is making the approach of graduation cause severe panic. We’ve been barreling towards this goal for four years and now that it is here, I am absolutely terrified. I’m not terrified about the next steps – in fact, I’m quite excited. What I’m so nervous about is that suddenly my group of dear friends will be disbanded suddenly and permanently. Sure, we will talk often and keep the ties maintained. But we will never again be all together, in this place, where these relationships have formed and blossomed.

Ok, so what does this have to do with my introverted epiphany? After graduation I will be moving to NYC. An introvert headed for the busiest city possible. I am beyond grateful that I will not be alone in this move, as some of my closest companions will be there with me. However, there is a constant gnawing in my stomach, a fear of the bustling metropolis that will soon be my home.

And here’s why. Once I have a friendship, especially a strong one that falls into the “I-literally-always-want-to-be-around-you” category, I pour my heart into the encouragement and growth of that relationship. But getting to that point in a friendship requires immense effort and several interactions outside my comfort zone. Those interactions require coffee dates and making plans and establishing boundaries and learning deeply. Being a new city with a new job and a new home will already be daunting enough. But those initial jumps into friendships will be even harder.

Part of what makes social situations so challenging for me is that with every interaction, I am exposed to another person that I want to love and support, even if I have known them all of three minutes. That sounds a little weird and mildly creepy - I know - but it’s in my nature. Every person I meet I want to brighten their day and learn their story in a way that will help me to support them. Thus, sudden interactions with bunches of new people can be immensely overwhelming because I have no idea where to begin. What do I say? How can I make them like me so that they’ll tell me about them and then I can be useful in their life? And I can’t turn it off. I can’t just ephemerally interact with a person under the assumption that the friendship will never extend beyond the present moment. My brain doesn’t work that way. So every new day with new people offers an opportunity for friendship but in a way that is mentally taxing.

I can’t say it’s not worth it. My favorite people in this world are ones that I’ve gone through this process with and I love them wholeheartedly. I am constantly amazed by my friends and wonder what I did right when we first met to establish these wonderful bonds. And naturally, as the overthinking, introverted, obnoxiously attentive person that I am, I am already nervous for the next journeys that will lead to new friendships with people I haven’t even met yet.
For now, I'm looking for strength to maintain my relationships, courage to jump into new ones, and faith that the right people will be placed in my life to make this next chapter incredible.

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