I know, I know. Some of you just read this title and sprang to your feet, with an accusatory finger pointing at your screen, yelling:
What, who? An introvert? You?!?
Surprise, surprise, little ole me! My high-energy might throw you for a loop, but I am far from a textbook extrovert. Call B.S. all you want, but first... hear me out.
Nine out of ten times, I am relaxed and comfortable in social settings. I love drawing connections with others and I can approach strangers with ease. Growing up, I always assumed these characteristics made me an extrovert. Although some aspects of my personality have evolved over time, suffice it to say my satisfaction for socialization has been pretty constant. But, oddly enough, I prefer to spend my time in solitude.
According to vocabulary.com, an extrovert is someone who "pays more attention to what's going on around them than what is in their heads." In regards to the bubbly sector of my personality, this isn't untrue. On a good day, I'd like to consider myself reasonably self-aware. But to say I pay more attention to the things around me than what's going on in my head?! Now, first of all, I'm a writer. If my content is any indication of 0.01% of the thoughts swimming through my head on a regular basis... let's agree that the definition above does not apply.
In contrast, the perception of shyness in introverts is actually a misnomer. Urban Dictionary asserts that introverts often have "great social lives and love talking to their friends but just need some time to be alone to recharge afterwards."
Could... it... be?! You mean to say I'm not wired wrong for feeling my head throb after a full day of socializing? I'm not a weirdo recluse if I'd rather eat alone? You're telling me maybe I don't have a screw (or five) loose?!!
Fine, maybe I still do. But traveling has shed light on this dimension of my personality. And in good sense.
Even if you're not a double-edged-human-sword like me, when solo-traveling, you're given no choice but to adjust. Solo-travelers have to learn to embrace solitude and the occasional cringe of small talk. If you don't extend yourself to others, you might spend your days as a real-life weirdo recluse. Alright, I admit... I've definitely done that.
During your adventure, there are times when you might not feel inclined to socialize. And that's totally fine! The beauty of solo-travel is the no-strings-attached mentality. There are zero rules and restrictions aside from the ones you place upon yourself. You are under no obligation to follow a checklist or even spend time with others marking boxes off said checklist. Your journey is exactly as you choose to make it. This means you can party at the hostel bar every night if you wish to! Or you can lock yourself in your room and binge on the Harry Potter series. Whatever it is that floats your boat, do the darn thing. Because guess what? You're the captain and co-captain.
For me, it's been about finding my balance. Some days, when extroverted elements of my personality are hungry, I feed them with new friends. Other times, I pick up a book and revel in the silence.
Truth be told, I'm a Gemini. I'm an expressionist, but that doesn't make me an extrovert. Oftentimes I'd prefer to write than to strike up a conversation with a stranger. I enjoy socializing, but I hate being the center of attention in a room full of people. Don't get me wrong; I don't mind getting the recommended serving size of attention from one person at a time... after all, I'm only human. But throw a second, third or fourth person into the mix and I'd rather liquify and slip through the cracks in the floor.
Although everyone has a different threshold as far as comfort zones are concerned, it's safe to say that foreign solo-travel likely breaks the boundaries of most. The unknown is equal parts unnerving, liberating and blissful. It's all a matter of perspective. You will spend some days miserably alone. Adapt and aim to embrace them. These days provide the greatest room for growth, especially for those who squeal in discomfort when in seclusion. Which, in reality, is the majority of us.
But, you'll find; after kneading the angst of being alone with your thoughts, nothing quite compares to being at peace with yourself, by yourself.
Except, of course... guacamole.
With light and love,