Within every introvert there’s a dreamer, creative, artist, scholar, performer, designer or thinker. If we’re not any of these things by occupation it’s likely they are part of our secret life. It’s the part of our lives we don’t necessarily broadcast, talk about on Facebook, or share with our work colleagues. When others are looking forward to having drinks after work, we’re eagerly heading off to indulge our passions. We’re the writer who carefully crafts each sentence because it’s important for the narrative. We’re the ballroom dancing, ballet, and yoga class attendees who are always at the back of class but are still paying close attention to the instructor. We’re the stitchers, thinking about which project in our Benedict Cumberstitch book we’re going to start next.
We’re the artists who attend drawing classes and never giggle when the naked life model reveals all. This is serious stuff. We’re there to learn and get the most out of our experience. If we’re there at all it’s because we’re genuinely interested in the art form at hand. Don’t interfere with our experience, because we wouldn’t dream of interfering with yours.
We spend our lunch breaks sitting alone under a tree with a book, or perhaps going for a solitary stroll listening to music to clear our minds and restore our calm. We might meet with someone we know very well to catch up, and we’ll talk about the things that matter instead of mindless small talk.
Don’t get me wrong, we don’t hate idle hands. Sometimes we sit quietly, listening to the void, holding a conversation in our heads, reasoning out an argument, working out a solution to a problem. Or we might just put on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and watch in blissful repose. It doesn’t have to be deep you know.
We’ve been known to fire up SingStar on the Play Station when we’re home alone and channel our inner Britney, or play Halo with the same enthusiasm we have when we’re trying to perfect that bread recipe that isn’t quite there yet.
When we’re not doing what we’re required to do to earn a living, we’re waiting for the times of the day when we can gleefully do our own thing. We’re waiting for when we can spend our 15-minute breaks in the sunshine and jump on Tumblr to check-in anonymously with our chosen fandom. We’re waiting for when we can get to that art exhibition we’ve spent months anticipating, and then wander around and ponder each piece at our leisure. We’re waiting to go on that solitary hike where we’re going to push ourselves a little harder, just for the challenge and the feeling of achievement. We’re waiting for when we get home, when we can shed the days uniform and properly settle into our favourite space to read, pin, watch, write, compose, paint, craft, stitch, or knit.
We introverts are easy to spot if you know what you’re looking for. On trains and buses, we’re almost compact, being careful not invade other people’s personal space while fervently hoping ours is similarly respected. Our armour is a book or device, combined with headphones to ensure that no one misunderstands our intentions. We’re there to read, listen to our music or podcasts, and not to chat. If we want to talk, we’ll approach you.
At social functions we’re likely to be found sitting quietly with one other person, or the hosts dog, talking about life and love. Or we’ve made ourselves supremely useful, perhaps we’re the DJ, or we’re helping the host keep tabs on whether more bottles of wine need to be opened. We’re also the ones who will quietly slip away after a couple of hours because, well that’s just what we do.
The most important thing to understand about introverts is that we have secret lives. We are not an open book and never will be to people we don’t trust and respect. Don’t judge the book by the cover because there’s so much going on under the surface you may never see, and it’s beautiful in its complexity.
When an introvert shares their inner world with you, you are one of the lucky ones. We’re notoriously picky when it comes to deciding who makes it to the inner circle. If you make it, don’t mess with it. Respect the introverts need to be alone from time to time. It’s not personal, it’s just necessary.
Over to you! If you’re an introvert, tell us about your ‘secret’ life in the comments below.