Heather the Happy Hermit

 Posted by on October 11, 2008  Add comments  Tagged with:
Oct 112008

People think I’m weird because:

-I like to stay home.

-I refuse more invitations than I accept.

-I don’t talk on the phone. To anyone, except my husband and my parents, occasionally. People who know me well always leave me a message, or send me an e-mail, because they know that I won’t answer the phone. When I have to communicate with someone, I go out of my way to do it in writing.

-I have no commitments outside the home.

-I despise shopping, sporting events, and any other activity that requires me to be among a large group of people.

-I feel no particular need for regular social interaction.

I’ve been called eccentric, a hermit, and a recluse. Once, someone even implied that I might be “mentally ill.”

I’m actually none of the above (OK, I might be a teensy bit eccentric). I’m just a classic introvert.

This makes me an anomaly in American society, where people spend billions of dollars each year on entertainment. I spend almost nothing. Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always been able to find endless ways to amuse myself. I prefer to be at home, and I enjoy solitude. Most people just cannot understand this at all, even my own husband, who is an extrovert with a capital E.

There was an article published in the March 2003 issue of The Atlantic, called “Caring for Your Introvert: The Habits and Needs of a Little Understood Group.” I printed it for my husband, and bless his heart, he actually read it. Since then, he has been better about indulging my little quirks, and he seems to be amused by them, rather than baffled. He now understands that I need to be alone in order to be happy, and forcing me to go out when I would rather stay home makes me miserable. I’m no fun to live with when I’m miserable.

Contrary to what most people think, introverts are not necessarily shy. An introvert is just a person who is energized by being alone and whose energy is drained by being around other people. Introverts are often described as people who “turn inside themselves.” They are introspective people who think deeply. They often avoid social situations because they find them draining, even if they have good social skills. When they are in social situations, they much prefer deep conversations to small talk.

This describes me perfectly. I’m not shy at all – I’m actually quite outgoing. I enjoy spending time with friends, but I need time alone to “recharge” afterward. I also despise “stop and chats.” When I pick up Bee at school, I always say “hello” to the other parents, and smile politely, but I don’t like to make chit chat.

It’s important to understand that when an introvert wants to be alone, it doesn’t mean that he or she is weird or depressed! If you’re an introvert like me, you will find it very hard to get this through people’s heads. Sometimes, I just need to unwind, and be alone with my thoughts. This doesn’t make me abnormal!

Introverts make up about 60% of the gifted population, but only about 25-40% of the general population, which is why we’re so misunderstood. However, it seems that more and more introverts are coming out of their hermitage, to let the public know that they like who they are, and they see no need to change. The book, “The Happy Introvert,” explains that we introverts are not depressed and lonely misfits. We’re actually quite happy being ourselves…or we would be if people would quit trying to change us.

I recently read an article at The Simple Dollar called “The Frugal Introvert: 50 Ways to Have Fun by Yourself on the Cheap.” It made me so happy, I can’t even tell you.

I think I might start a “Happy Hermit” club. Who’s in?