“Home is where my habits have a habitat.” – Fiona Apple
I’ve seen a lot of posts about introverts popping up all over the Internet lately. I agree with some of what I’ve read, but not all of it. One meme in particular that kind of bothers me is this one: a poster that lists 12 ways to care for an introvert.
I don’t like that it portrays introverts as overgrown children who don’t know how to communicate their needs. I’m an English major; communicating (both verbally and in writing) is something I’m pretty good at.
I’m also an introvert.
Back in December, my friend Stephanie came to Detroit from Chicago for Christmas, and called me at 11 p.m. to see if I’d like to meet up for a drink. I eagerly agreed; my family was shocked. I’d just gotten off work an hour or so earlier, and I’m notorious for refusing to go anywhere or do anything with anyone after work, preferring instead to curl up with reruns of The Golden Girls.
But there are a few people who can get me to break that routine, and Stephanie, as one of my dearest friends, is one of them. There is nothing I love more than spending quality time with people I care about.
I think that’s a big misconception about introverts– that we don’t like to interact with people. I love it. I’m just picky about who I spend my time with, and how I go about doing that. I hate driving, so seldom leave my hometown. Stephanie is someone I actually make the effort to visit because she lives in Chicago. I can get there via an Amtrak train, and once I arrive, can navigate the city via the El. But I don’t really see anyone else unless they come to visit me.
I’m lucky to have friends who understand and accept this about me, and I love them for it. Early this year, two of my closest friends from Saginaw, Tracy and Travis, came to spend the day with me. In November, Sarah invited me to drive with her to Bowling Green, KY to visit her boyfriend for Thanksgiving. And last year, a bunch of SVSU English majors picked me up on their way to a conference in Pittsburgh.
And that leads me to another misconception about introverts: that we only have a few close friends. I have lots of friends. I love meeting new people and hearing their stories. I just also have this really intense need to feel safe. I’m like a cat: certain things about my routine need to remain consistent, or else I freak out. I stubbornly refuse to drive because I feel completely out of control when I do. But you can take me just about anywhere, and as long as I have access to a daily shower and coffee, I’m fine.
The one place where I can always be guaranteed access to these things is my house, which is partly why I spend so much time here. That, and I have more control over the noise level here than I do anywhere else. I’m really sensitive to noise– particularly the clashing of noises. I love to read, but unfortunately, my favorite spot in this house to do that happens to be situated between two rooms that each contain TVs. My family watches a lot of television, and both sets are often on at the same time. That drives me crazy, and I complain about it a lot, but since I’m the minority, I usually just wind up hiding out in my room, where it’s quieter.
Reading this back to myself, I’m starting to realize that I do kind of sound anal, picky, and particular about things. But I mentioned when I started writing this that a big problem I have is the assumption that introverts can’t communicate.
I am obviously overly good at it– evidence in the number of firm (albeit somewhat strange) boundaries I’ve set for myself and the way I live my life.