I’m an introvert. No matter how many times I try to be an extrovert or convince myself that I’m not an introvert, I soon realise that I’m kidding myself. I prefer being alone most of the time.
I’m never the loudest person in the room, don’t like to draw attention to myself and can be pretty awkward at conversations with people I don’t really know.
This is hard when it comes to working in public relations, as you’re meant to be a schmoozer and be able to work your way around a room. Don’t get me wrong, I can talk to absolutely anyone when I have to and you would probably think I have absolutely no problem in doing so.
But on the inside? I’m not in my comfort zone and I make sure to think of at least 10 conversation starters before going into that room so I know I can have something to talk about.
Plus, when your accent isn’t familiar to everyone in a room, that makes it a lot harder and may be a big factor in why I don’t like to speak out or make myself heard very often.
Wanting to be an extrovert
I wish I was an extrovert, I really do. I’m jealous of people that can be loud and demand attention in a room. I’m jealous of anyone that’s known for being loud and bubbly and entertaining, the life of the party.
But for me, I love nothing more than being snuggled up on the sofa with a book on my own. I really enjoy my own company and prefer it to being in a room of people I don’t know or that aren’t my best friends.
But there are always situations where I wish I could be more extroverted. It does at times feel like I’m almost wasting my youth, choosing to stay indoors rather than hitting the bars and clubs every weekend.
But often when I do go out, I think about how much I’d rather be at home instead. Being hungover and travelling home in the early hours of the morning (especially in London) just isn’t for me any more.
However, there can be times when I’m having a drink with some friends and I’m enjoying myself and wanting everyone to stay out later and I end up having a really good time getting a little drunk with my friends. But I will say that it’s more on the rare side, especially now.
Can you be both introverted and extroverted?
Like I said above, sometimes you wouldn’t have a clue that I’m quiet and prefer my own company. I know how to work a room, be a little loud and outgoing, and strike up a conversation with an absolute stranger.
But there are times when I can be quiet and say nothing at all, choosing to listen to a conversation instead of being involved in it.
For those that are very extroverted, I wonder how they find the energy and how they aren’t burnt out all the time. Being social takes it out of me. Perhaps it’s the effects of covid and that we were stuck inside for around two years, but I just can’t be switched on 24/7 anymore.
So is there a way to be a little bit of both? Or do I need to pigeonhole myself into one way over the other?
Finding solace on my own
I enjoy my own company a lot. Do I think it stems from being an only child and having to spend a lot of time by myself when I was young? Maybe.
But I do like that I’m a very independent person because I was an only child. I was very used to my own company and doing things alone that it didn’t phase me walking around my local town by myself when I was younger, or going to the shopping centre on my own – things that sound very simple, but weren’t things you did at home when you were in your teens. God forbid you looked like a loner because you liked doing things on your own.
Then fast forward to university where I had my first real taste of independence living in Liverpool, and I loved it. I loved having my own space in my university halls, my own free time to do whatever and whenever I pleased.
Then moving to London the following year where I really was on my own, not knowing anyone and walking around the different areas of London by myself on the weekends and exploring on my own because I didn’t know many people. And I enjoyed it.
Only child syndrome
Only Child Syndrome is a term I’ve heard quite often and at times I can relate when I think of other only children I know, and I can see it in myself sometimes too.
It refers to only children that were spoiled growing up because they were the single child and that never had to learn how to share and be around other siblings.
I wouldn’t say I fit the bill completely, but there are times when I can be quite stubborn and I do like to have my own things and can be a little private.
But I wouldn’t say that I’m a spoiled person or that I was spoiled growing up. I still remember the Nike Airs that my mum wouldn’t buy for me when I was in primary school (even though everyone had them) and I also still remember the X Factor Live tour tickets (in the year of One Direction) that my mum wouldn’t get me for Christmas because she saw it as a ‘phase’.
If only she knew then how much money I was going to spend on that boyband and later in their solo careers.
I was told ‘no’ a lot more times than ‘yes dear, of course’ but the stubborn part of me is more of a negative personality trait I would say, rather than Only Child Syndrome.
Making being alone normal
I enjoy being by myself. I enjoy going to bookstores and browsing by myself, going on a walk with my airpods and listening to a podcast, going to a park and reading, or sitting in a coffee shop alone on my laptop.
However, there are so many things I do by myself when I’m in cities like London or New York that I simply wouldn’t do at home. I wouldn’t go and sit in a coffee shop by myself. I wouldn’t take myself on a walk around the park by myself. And I wouldn’t be caught dead sat reading somewhere around town on my own.
How come something so normal to me in London is something I could never do back in my hometown? Mostly, because people would talk and wonder if you’re ok. To be by yourself is to be a ‘loner’ or to be not ok.
But I wish it was more normalised. What’s wrong with being by yourself and enjoying your own company in your local coffee shop? Yes it’s likely that you’ll know everyone that walks in, but maybe take yourself a little further to where you will most likely not know anyone and enjoy that momentary solace for a few hours.
Needing space in a relationship
When it comes to being in a relationship, alone time can often be quite hard to come by. As someone that really enjoys being by myself at times, I try to make sure I always have a moment here and there for myself.
Whether it’s a walk during lunch, taking myself to a coffee shop for an hour or staying at home in the evening while your other half is out.
For me, space is quite important, especially since I live with my boyfriend. I was used to living alone before I met him and highly regarded my level of independence and I don’t want to lose that by heavily relying on him.
In the mornings, you’ll find me on the sofa alone for around an hour reading. That for me is some of my alone time. You’ll find me on a long walk listening to a podcast during my lunch hour. Then when it comes to weekends when he’s away for rugby or football, then I make the most of that time and spend it inside by myself to recharge my batteries and do the things that I need to do on my own.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to spend all of my time on my own. I enjoy the company of other people and especially my boyfriend. It’s a weird feeling but my apartment always seems very silent when he’s not there. The TV could be on or Alexa could be at full volume, but there’s always a feeling of emptiness.
Being ok with being alone
I think it’s important to be comfortable with being alone. Whether it’s being out and about by yourself, going to the shops alone, going to the cinema alone, going out for dinner alone – whatever it is, I challenge you to do it if it’s something you’re not usually comfortable with.
You will learn more about yourself by being left with your own thoughts for a while. Sit down by yourself and think about what you want from your life, your goals, your aspirations.
Being alone is the perfect time to medicate on these kinds of things and to get to know yourself on the inside. Talk to yourself and explore what your values and expectations are.
Be ok with being by yourself.