The Chatty Introvert (an oxymoron?)

Blanket Fort

Blanket FortBlanket Fort
There are two distinct moments in my life when I felt as if something were horribly, terribly wrong with me.

When I got my tonsils out in fifth grade, I remember my mother anticipating the few days I would spend recovering sans the ability to talk. Now, my mother meant well (love you, Mom!); I was just apparently a chatty child with a knack for going on long-winded, roundabout rants. A few days of peace and quiet? I’d be excited too.

But then I came out of the OR, happily slurping some Jell-O, still prattling away about wanting to play a game of Uno. Kristin: 1, Mom: 0

This might not sound all that odd, but I remember her recounting the story and thinking to myself, “Me, talkative? How can that be?” I was always a reserved kid who didn’t do much talking and kept to myself. Often the overshadowed tagalong in my group of friends (a trait that followed me through high school), I preferred to listen and stay on the sidelines when more than one or two other people were involved in anything at all. So how could I be viewed as an outgoing chatterbox? This wasn’t the first time, mind you, that I’d heard myself referred to as someone who found it “easy to make friends, and talkative”.

Fast forward to a weekend in high school, and you’d find me curled up in my room, reading a book, pretending like I wasn’t home so that people — perfectly good friends! — wouldn’t disturb me. It’s not that I didn’t like people, I just needed my downtime. I remember trying to stockpile potential excuses with which I could weasel my way out of invitations. Saying “I just don’t feel like it today” never felt like an acceptable answer; it was much easier to just pretend I was busy than face a barrage of questions about why I didn’t want to do this, or do that. Coupled with the usual cockeyed look one gets when they mention wanting to just “spend some time alone”, and people would jump to all sorts of inaccurate conclusions about how happy I was or how happy I was not.

Introvert. It’s a word I’ve always used to describe myself, and I usually find the definition rather fitting. For all of the ways I do identify with being an introvert, there are also some negative connotations. I am not shy. I am not antisocial. And contrary to what one might think, I like to talk — if the situation is right of course. Being social and reserved seems like an oxymoron, but the stereotypical label of being a “shy, unsociable” introvert simply isn’t true.

Over the years, I’ve subconsciously learned how to navigate my introversion. Or my extroversion. It wasn’t until reading Quiet by Susan Cain as a part of the NovelTea Book Club that I began expanding my view of the two terms. The book itself is by no means conclusive, nor is it the only authority out there, but it was refreshing to hear that yes, you can be both introverted and extroverted to a certain extent. Yes, people can shift their personality to better suit a situation. No, not all introverts are people-phobic, nor do they have to be.

You’re much more likely to find me holed up in a blanket fort of my own making on a Friday night, but you also never know when you’ll see me leading a workshop or dancing in the middle of the floor. Will I be exhausted after? Probably. But recharging is what a lazy Sunday is for. I feel no shame in admitting that I have an extroverted side that I dust off on occasion and — gasp! — like it! It’s just another side of me, another way to balance out the person that I am, which happens to be more of an introvert by nature, yet I love both sides all the same.

Are you an introvert? An extrovert? Bucking tradition and saying ‘neither’? Chime in below!

No matter if you’re an introvert, or an extrovert – shout your awesome personality from the (technological) rooftops by joining the linkup below!

  • Kay

    I absolutely agree that being shy, or social anxiety do not go hand in hand with being an introvert. My brother is the perfect example of that. I think as a society we have a hard time accepting that some people just don’t crave tons of social interaction! I, on the other hand, do fall into the shy introvert category. As an adult, I have learned to be less shy in some situations, and I definitely think I’m better off for it!

    • Shyness and introversion seem to have a correlation, from my unscientific point of view, but I think we – myself included – forget that they’re not mutually exclusive. Acceptance of that, and introversion in general, is tough as I society, I agree!

  • I’m definitely an introvert and I had a similar high school experience. I would oftentimes blame my parents and say they told me I couldn’t go out so I could sit home and read which seems so silly now! I love that as an adult it’s perfectly acceptable to say that I don’t want to go out and I don’t feel the slightest bit guilty about it. I can also turn on my extrovert side in certain situations but when I do, I usually require some serious recharging time afterwards!

    • Haha, yes! I’d feel so guilty about it! I’d avoid walking in front of windows just in case friends walked by. I’ve come to realize that people (adults?) are so much more understanding now.

  • It’s so funny how much I agree with both you and Kay when it comes to my introversion. I experience both social anxiety and also the compelling need to be in charge of something. Also blanket forts are such a good idea and I need to make them more often!

    • Blanket forts fix everything!

  • Allison Poorman

    I was so looking forward to a few days of peace! 🙂 xoxo

  • Samantha Engel

    I have very similar feelings about the situation. I can read descriptions of introverts and agree with a majority of them. My ideal Friday night is just hanging out at home watching movies or something similar. I don’t really enjoy going out during the week, but prefer to be at home with my husband. However, I work alone all day and it drives me nuts. I love talking to people. I sometimes give lectures and lead workshops for work and I used to want to be a teacher. Forget conformity! I’m my own animal, I guess.

    • Everyone seems to have a balance, I think, and listening to what you want at that moment is key. If a night home in bed is calling to you, listen to it! Most people these days (or maybe as we get older) understand the sentiment of “I just want to be alone” a bit better 🙂

  • I’m definitely an introvert and normally I’m not very chatty, but if I feel comfortable with the person/people I’m with or if we’re talking about a subject I know a lot about, then I have no problem chatting away! Because of Quiet I’ve come to see that I do have a few extrovert traits, though obviously a lot more introvert traits!

  • This makes perfect sense to me! I identify as an introvert and I do have to push myself to join BIG social groups, but I do like being with a small group of people and have no problem talking to them. It takes a little to restock myself after big group events, but I still can do it. I love this perspective – thanks for sharing!

  • I’m shy, though I think I’d never be perceived that way. I think it comes from hating small talk, really. Once I can get on a topic I’m interested in or passionate about with someone, it is hard to shut me up.

    It’s interesting to hear about your school / going out and recharging experiences! I feel the same way. I don’t have a problem going out to do something in the limelight, but I’ve got to recharge with a much bigger ratio of downtime afterwards.

    Also: blanket forts rock.

    • Oh I don’t like small talk either, but as soon as the conversation shifts to Firefly it’s smooth sailing for me 🙂

  • I am a fair blend of both though I am enjoying embracing and flying my introvert flag more recently!