My college background is in the natural sciences and mathmatics, but we never took personality tests during that time and I never took a psych class that dealt with introverts and extroverts. So as well educated as I am in science, I lived the first several decades of my life not knowing why I’d do the following things:
1. If dear friends would come to visit me from a nearby city, I would have a blast during their visit that day, but by nightfall would be secretly glad if they declared they could not spend the night. Then l’d wake up the next morning and wish they could come right back! What was wrong with me? Could I not make up my mind?
2. I would go to family gatherings or weddings and truly enjoy reconnecting with people I don’t see much anymore, but after a few hours my face would feel exhausted to the point that I’d feel an urgent need to leave. Was I wearing an expression I don’t usually wear when alone?
3. While working in a customer support position for a couple of years, I would rather type a full page email of how-tos for a person and send it than to “just pick up the phone” and call them. Was I just wasting time doing all that typing?
4. If I have errands to run or shopping to do, it usually would not cross my mind to invite a friend to go with me. Is something wrong with me?
Sometimes ignorant people would tell me I was “antisocial” if I didn’t want to go out to lunch with them every day. That seems like quite a heavy diagnosis, considering I got along well with everyone and had a lot of friendly acquaintances at the office. One day a coworker who really knew me said to me, “Seems to me you like being with people and you have plenty of friends. But after being with people a long time, you are drained. Is that correct?” YES! What does that mean? It means I am an introvert. I may enjoy some social activities, but they drain my energy. I recharge and energize myself by reading, caring for animals or walking around looking at nature, NOT by talking to others. Extroverts recharge by being with other people, and most of them can not comprehend what is “wrong” with introverts.
Learning that has set me free from wondering what is wrong and trying to do things the way everyone else does them. I know myself now and now I know how to have a happy family life and a great career and still not let those things drain me. I am an introvert and I wouldn’t have it any other way.