WORDS | SAM PALENCIA & KATEY LEE
PHOTOS | KATEY LEE
Extrovert, I like you. I love you. I want spend time with you.
Heck, I’ve wanted to be like you for most of my life. But sometimes (okay, a lot of the time), I am exhausted by being around you. Not because you did anything wrong or because there’s something wrong with you, it’s just the way I’m wired. I can have the most amazing day with you, but when it’s over, no matter how much fun it was, I just need to be by myself to recharge. It took me a while, but I’ve grown to realize that this is really okay.
When I was a kid, my favorite thing to do was to sit at the grown up table and just listen. Still today, most of the time I’d so much rather observe and listen than actually speak myself. But just because I’m quiet doesn't mean I’m mad or upset or that I have nothing to say. Because I do have lots to say. Sometimes I just need a little time to adjust to a new environment before I’m comfortable speaking. Sometimes I just enjoy listening to the conversation. Sometimes I’m waiting for the right moment to chime in (I usually miss it, but that’s beside the point).
I love people and community, I really do. I am so encouraged and inspired by those around me and I want to grow alongside them. But I cherish time to myself. In the season of life I’m in, true alone time is rare, and I have to hold on to it and create space for it. Extrovert, I’m sorry when I tell you I can’t hang out. But really, I’m tired of making excuses for it; I just need time to myself. I promise I’m still your friend.
I know that every extrovert is different and every introvert is different;
there are quiet extroverts and loud introverts, extroverts that have only a few friends and introverts that have many - and I think that the most important thing to understand is that one is not better than the other.
All of my life people have asked me why I’m so shy or so quiet and it’s made me feel like there’s something wrong with me for not being loud and outgoing and outspoken like you so often are. So many times I have wished to be more extroverted; to feel as happy and bubbly as you look all the time, to make friends so easily and to be able to talk to anyone and everyone. But I know that the way you act is not always the way you feel, just like me. The volume at which we speak does not determine our worth as human beings and whether we prefer to talk or to listen does not make us superior or inferior to the other. We are simply different.
Extrovert, I don't want to be like you.
I'm not jealous of you anymore and I now understand that your life isn't any easier than mine. I understand that you are just different than me.
It took me 21 years to realize that being an introvert isn't a bad thing. It took me two whole decades to learn how to balance my alone time with the time I need to spend with others. It took me far too long to realize that though I am quiet, I am valuable and I have a place. And even though sometimes you wear me out, extrovert, you are valuable too and you have a place in the world and in my life.
Extrovert, let’s learn from each other.