When I define myself as an introvert it seems to really surprise people, particularly those people who know me primarily online via Facebook or this blog. I can understand this perception… I’m obviously comfortable naked (particularly in public), I share my intimate experiences, I very vocally advocate for non-traditional relationships, and I fully participate in communities like Burning Man. I’m not a shy person usually, particularly if I am even remotely comfortable, but I am still an introvert.
Introverts are not defined by how active they are in public, it is all about how they get energized. I get exhausted when interacting with strangers, particularly when there is small talk involved, so I hate “mixers”, networking, happy hours, and any other form of forced association with people I don’t know. I am not a fan of dancing or clubs, even bars tend to drain me unless I am with close friends. One night out a week is plenty for me and I would rather lounge at home watching Netflix or reading than go out… but I have also found a way to be an introvert but be social and lose the shyness when in public.
The most important thing for me is to have close friends I can retreat to even in social environments. Yes, I did a naked bike ride, but I did it with my partner and one of my best friends and the entire time I hung out with them. Yes, I share moments I have but these moments are with people I love and I share them on the internet but I can control what feedback I get in these venues. I need the people I am closest to around me, I would be lost and exhausted and anxious without them. My dearest open-minded friends are now geographically close to me which is part of the reason you don’t see many events like the ones above from my time in Washington DC.
Another tool in my “I’m introverted but want to get out there and have adventures” is a having a distraction. I don’t like dancing when people can see my face but if I have a firestaff, a mask on, or some sort of LED tool that distracts it helps me break out of my shell. While logically I realize on a logical level that on a dance floor or out on the Playa I am hardly the focus of attention for anyone it still helps me to have a distraction that is within my control… the whole experience drains me less when the focus isn’t on me. Actually, in retrospect this paragraph is more about shyness than introversion but I wrote it so I might as well leave it…. maybe someone will get some value out of it.
As an introvert I store energy by being alone, I stay energy “neutral” when with close trusted friends, and I exert a lot of energy when dealing with strangers. Now, it doesn’t take long for some people to move from stranger to close friend, but my close friend circle still stays small in numbers. That is just how I operate, I may not understand extroverts who love going out nightly to happy hours or want to talk when they get home from work, but the beauty of this world is the diversity and I don’t need to understand. Extroverts create beauty, just like introverts do, and if we can respect our different ways of processing energy I think we can all learn from each other.