What does it mean to be an outgoing introvert?
To appreciate this inquiry, let me take a step back to junior high, a time when I would have shuddered at this very question. If asked about my "big fat fear," I would have said loneliness.
I've always been the average social butterfly, ungratefully known as the chatterbox. In college, I am the paradoxical adult child, who enjoys Fro-Yo fights and sleeps with her stuffed Dumbo secured tightly against her chest, but enjoys a headed, stormy debate concerning just about anything in the classroom. And one of the signs of being a completely lost and confused freshman is being bombarded with innumerable, overwhelming questions.
Where are you from?
How many languages do you speak?
Would you wear pajamas to your IR class?
Are you afraid that you peaked in high school?
I'm just eternally grateful no one ever brought up the question about my big fat fear. Guess what mine still was? Loneliness.
It's no surprise that it took me forever to appreciate the comforts of solitude. In my efforts to stay constantly connected, I began to pick up friends and conversations. But the more I fell into the crowd, stayed out late and surrounded myself with friends, the deeper a nagging sensation took root in me. I realized that I was increasingly neglecting a very special friend. Me. And if I considered Me to be alone, was I really any less lonely?
Conflicting realizations led to deliberate self- introspection. The more I paid attention to the endless jargon of thoughts inside my head, the less afraid I grew of confronting a multitude of fears. Realistically speaking, the fear of enjoying my own company didn't necessarily correlate to loneliness or unhappiness. I just wasn't ready to accept the fact that I was fully capable of enjoying a meal without the pretense of being busy behind my laptop, or navigating new streets alone in a perfectly content frame of mind with my favorite book in hand, because not all who wander are lost.
These realizations prompted me to exercise better control over my social lifestyle, and quite frankly contributed to my overall well- being. I will forever appreciate long, meaningful conversations and religiously contribute to the chaos erupting in our common room. But I am also capable of enjoying silent car rides with the radio blasting in the background. I love hearing what other people have to say. My friends swear I'm a great listener, and a part- time lunatic because they've seen me silently dance to my favorite songs at the train station. (In my defense, it was just a gentle swaying and I wasn't in anyone's way.)
Because self- introspection is still a hot topic in my head, let me ask a rhetorical question and capture my train of thought. Am I crazy?
Absolutely Not. I'm just the average outgoing introvert.