I wonder if the “introvert” badge is basically a way for people who don’t feel they can carve out some time for themselves to validate their need to be alone. Maybe I’m overstating it, but to me it’s been quite important to identify that I do need time alone to balance time with other people, and that time when I’m not socially committed may not be “free”, but rather time I’ve reasonably allocated to being with myself. Perhaps there’s a need for a name for this other than “loner”, “antisocial” or “boring”, and “introvert” is as good as any.
I do also wonder if some of the trends which have gained currency in recent years are really expressions of a desire for balance and ways to validate our need for it. Mindfulness meditation, for instance, is really just a means of structuring some daily Me time. And, stretching this metaphor perhaps to its limit, take cats. Cats are as popular on the internet as porn, if not more so, and cats are the very definition of introverted. Most cats are perfectly happy alone, hate spending time in social situations and will tolerate only other cats who are members of their immediate families. And if a cat doesn’t want to do something, it never hesitates to let you know. Many’s the time I’ve invited one of my cats to come and sit on my lap, only to be rebuffed with the answer “I’m sorry, but I find I’m washing my bottom tonight.” Maybe our love of cats as evidenced on the internet is really a desire to be able to firmly bip those who suggest that we might like to give up precious time sitting solo on top of a bookcase in favour of partying, however tuna-heavy such partying may be.
So where does that leave me? Well, a number of friends whom I would term as extroverts have greeted these musings with the comment that balance is a necessary and desirable thing, and a number of (self-identified) introverts have responded with comments that they feel exactly the same as me. In future, therefore, if I find myself overcommitted, I shall remember the need for balance, remind myself that I’m not some sort of antisocial weirdo, and I will honour my inner introvert by replying to additional invitations with the words “I’m sorry, but whilst I would love to see you, I’ve been very busy recently and I really should spend a little time by myself. Purrrrr.”