Hey. As of this moment, we are in a relationship where I don’t know who you are, but you know who I am. Therefore, this is going to proceed in a bit of a formal manner, and I hope that’s alright with you.
So let’s start all over.
Dear Sir, Madam, or Person,
Some – I would claim the large majority – of people have an odd tendency to split the world into two categories: male or female, homosexual or heterosexual, educated or uneducated, liberal or conservative, et cetera. Two is such a small number to try to split the world into, wouldn’t you agree? Especially since all those lovely adjectives I just listed fall onto spectrums rather than into two buckets. I’m all for unity, but if we are insisting on categorizing our surroundings, and especially our fellow humankind, should we not have more than two categories to split them into on a given subject? There are over seven billion people alive only today, so shouldn’t there be at least seven billion forms of expression on a topic?
For that reason, the description “introverted” rubs me the wrong way, even though I use it all the time for convenience. I often use that word to describe myself, but all the connotations that follow one simple label are hardly true, at least for me. I am not shy in the least, and I doubt many people would call me quiet. As for misanthropy, I found out the hard way that I carry loyalty to my friends to a fault.
However, that isn’t to say that I defy those ideas either. I can be easily intimidated, or not feel like speaking to anybody for a while. And there is a great deal of people that I don’t like, to be honest. Why the contradictions?
These contradictions exist because I, just like you, am a person. This was a given though, bordering on common sense and tempting you to give up reading on. But this is a fact that is so often forgotten, as you and I are usually reduced and abstracted by others until we may be further from human than Siri. But unlike Siri, we are full of contradictions that are illogical and subjective, which is kind of why we are the humans in this comparison, but not the humans that other people reduce us to be. We are only ourselves.
To return to the point I am trying to make, when I describe myself as introverted to people I have just met but must learn to get along with (as has happened with the four host families I’ve had in the past four months), the accompanying ideas of introversion as so huge that they obstruct what I was trying to get across. All I mean when I say I am introverted is that time I spend with people is exhausting and that I need a lot of alone time to be okay, but ideas of shyness, timidness, and misanthropy are all that stay in whomever I am speaking to’s mind.
Similar to beauty, I have found that in large part, societies have ideal personality types, mostly ones that value ‘extroversion’ much more than ‘introversion’. I just so happen to be the combination of introverted and stubborn that doesn’t get along very well with these standards. For example, when my cohort first arrived in Quito we were told that spending time in your room is considered rude here, and thus I ended up going to bed at 7:30pm every night.
Far too many people argue with me when I explain that I really need time alone, telling me that I am too social to need that much time by myself everyday. That is just the result of everyone trying to divide the world into two categories, and I don’t fault those people. I do, however, fault people who push me to spend less time alone and more time in company of others, especially with the idea that I should be changing as a person into someone better during my bridge year.
I have changed on my bridge year, quite a bit really. I think I have become more resilient, and (ironically enough) more patient. Yet I lose my patience with those that try to shove me into their idea of ‘extroversion,’ just as I lose my patience with those that try to shove beauty standards on other people.
I have been a disappointment to a great deal of people in the past four months, who make very little effort in concealing that disappointment. I don’t exactly fit the bubbly, loud, clueless ideal of a gringa they were expecting, which is fine by me. My brand of introversion gives me the best ability I could hope for: as long as I quite like myself, I couldn’t care less whether others do or not, especially the others that I don’t particularly like.
And so with that, 2016 is here, and because you and I are not Siri or any other perfect android, we have a great deal to improve upon. Yet, as I make my New Year’s resolutions, I don’t have plans to change anything that I consider an integral part of myself, as I rather like me as I am, and I certainly don’t think a desire for alone time is something that needs to be improved. My introversion will be staying for a good while, as well as the other things that make me myself.
So, my dear friend, happy new year, but I’ll be staying the same.
Yours in blissful solitude,