To be honest, when I first started to plan this post, I didn’t think I actually had many memories of being an introvert when I was a child. But the more I thought about it, the more I saw how my introversion was always present, I just didn’t know there was a word for it. There’s a general consensus that people’s personality is usually more or less formed by the time they’re 7. For me, I think that my personality type didn’t fully develop until I was much older, but there are definitely clues and pointers that I would turn out to be an introvert.
One introvert trait that definitely shone through when I was younger, was how imaginative my imagination was. I would create alternative scenarios and worlds with their own places and characters, and I would live in these worlds, just in my mind, for months on end sometimes. If you’re thinking, what the hell am I on about, then watch the below video and I’ll explain all…
So the show Zoey 101 was about a girl called Zoey (I know, surprise right?!), her brother and friends who went to a fictional boarding school called PCA (Pacific Coast Academy) in Southern California. When I first saw the show, around the age of 9, I loved the idea of living somewhere like PCA, being a bit more grown up and having my own freedom and responsibility. So that’s what I did, kind of… I created the world in my head and pretended that I lived there. I created imaginary friends who were my peers at the school and we’d always have conversations (obviously when no one was looking) about our lives and school. When I was outside I would pretend I was walking around PCA’s never-ending campus and I would assign functions to different buildings, an apartment block would be some accomodation, some offices would be the science labs, a restaurant we passed in the car would be an off-campus canteen, and so on.
This might make me sound like a complete and utter weirdo (of which I may be), but when I was younger, this would be going on inside my head, my own little world where I could be someone else and nobody knew about it.
When I was younger I would have a fair few out-of school activities on, swimming lessons, ballet, gymnastics, singing lessons, netball practise and dance classes. Just to point out, I didn’t have all of these things on within one week, these are all the extra things I would do at some point between the ages of 5 and 14. Introvert-wise, I would plan to go along to these activities, semi look forward to them and then come the hour beforehand I would probably have an internal freak out and not want to go. I can clearly remember hiding behind my mum’s bed one Saturday morning, pleading with her not to make me go to ballet. It’s not because I hated these things once I got there, I hated the idea of not being able to stay at home and be by myself for another hour or two.
When it came to high school, I tended to then only have one or two close friends, and then after a few years one best friend (sup Beth). I was definitely a judger as well. Personality type wise, by a ‘judger’ I mean someone who likes things neat, organised, orderly and established. For example, I had to do my homework the day I was given it, I wasn’t a ‘nerd’ I just liked the idea of, if I wasn’t given any homework one day then I could relax at home and not have to do homework from 3 days ago. Family gatherings were something that I always loved, I thought they were the most energising thing ever. Until I would go to the bathroom, be on my own for the first time in a good few hours, and the introvert hangover would step in (yes introvert hangovers are a thing). I would want to stay in the toilet for ages just to recharge my batteries. But then my rational mind would tell me no, as that would look weird.
I first ‘found out’ about introverts when I was in sixth form. I was doing Psychology A-Level and the word was always floated about. I didn’t think too much of it until my best friend Beth started to bang on about personality types 24/7, not in an annoying way, she just found them interesting. I suppose I researched introverts a bit, I thought I identified as one, but again, I didn’t really think too much into it. It’s not until I went to India that summer that I actually connected the definition ‘introvert’ to how I was feeling. I had spent a whole week around 10 other people, we spent the whole day together, the evening, meal times, we even shared the same room. I was never alone. It was the beginning of the second week and I went into my tent to get something and I suddenly was very aware that I was all by myself for the first time in ages. So I took the opportunity to just lie down, alone in my tent for as long as I could.
It wasn’t until a little later that year that I started to become really interested in and fascinated by personality types, and realised that I truly identified as an introvert. I started my first proper job, which happened to be in a very extroverted environment, it was in an open plan office and most other people on my team were extroverts. I quickly began to realise that if I wanted to seem energised during the day then I had to keep most of my evenings free and arrange my time carefully so that I wouldn’t burn out. To be honest, it was great. I had finally figured out how my brain worked and that I wasn’t actually weird, I was just an introvert in an extrovert world. The more I learnt about myself, the more I researched personality types, read books, blogs, articles etc. I related to almost everything that I read and I found it fascinating to observe how different people are in terms of their personality.
I love to find out and discover more about myself, and other people. There can sometimes be nothing more fulfilling than learning about yourself so you can have the time you need to recharge, whether that’s by yourself binge watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S. for the millionth time or surrounded by hundreds of other people at a networking event.
Btw, there’s nothing wrong with either of those but F.R.I.E.N.D.S beats a networking event any day…