My name is Alexis Green, I’m seventeen years old and currently in my last year of high school. I have known Marcy Hill for three years now and since September I’ve been doing a Co-op with her at The Door in Huntsville. I’ve always been “the shy kid” no matter where I was or who I was with. For me this has never been something I spared the tiniest amount of resentment toward. I’m an introvert, it’s just who I am and I’ve never found any shame in it.
However, there can be days when it seems like the world was just not made for me to exist in. It can feel like everything around me is built by extroverts, for extroverts. Every team, every game, every lesson, nothing seems to be going in a way I’m comfortable with. I’ve also seen so much misunderstanding when it comes to what introverts are like and how anxiety works. I guess this is a perfectly normal subject to not understand, but I’ve always told myself that it’s better to seek education on a subject than to immediately assume that it isn’t real or is just plain wrong. When I say education, I don’t mean that you have to look at research or watch a documentary (although that can be useful) and I am by no means an expert, however, I find that just talking to people who go through these things and experience a lot of anxiety everyday can give you the information you’re looking for. It can be as easy as asking a person about what makes them anxious and what can help them to feel more comfortable.
The difference between introverts and extroverts can be as simple as thinking that everyone has a social battery. This is an analogy I’ve seen floating around and I do believe it’s the perfect way to explain the difference between the two. An extrovert battery is charged by socializing and being around people while an introvert battery is drained in the same situation. An introverts battery charges when they’re doing something they enjoy. It doesn’t always have to be in solitude or silence, but rather a comfortable space they can feel like themselves in. This does often mean being alone since it is easiest to be yourself with no one else around. The best way I can describe being an introvert after a social gathering is really feeling like your battery is at 2 percent and you might just shut off at any moment. Your energy can be gone even if all you did was sit down and have coffee with a few friends. That doesn’t mean that an introvert doesn’t want to socialize. You charge your phone so that you can use it, not so it can sit on your bedside table at 100 percent forever. Of course, everyone is different, some people’s batteries drain faster than others and some can go strong until that last 0.5 percent, it all depends on the person.
For me, I have a million different things I do to deal with anxiety and just the everyday quirks that come along with being an introvert. There are so many little things that I do to make myself more comfortable, things I may not even know I do until someone has pointed it out to me. Something that I think is misunderstood quite a lot is that an introvert may not know the exact reason they’re anxious or just don’t want to participate in something. To somebody else it might seem like a completely normal activity that no one should have trouble with, but they should know that the introvert might not fully understand why either, they just know it doesn’t sit well with them.
I do think that the best thing an introvert can do to socialize is find a space they feel comfortable in, one where they feel like they belong. One of my safe spaces is The Door Youth Centre, especially our Thursday night youth group. It’s not really a space nor situation that would immediately come to mind if I were to ask you “Where do you think an introvert would be comfortable?”, but for me it is a place I can be myself. It’s a hangout space where you aren’t put on the spot if you don’t want to be. I’ve grown to be so comfortable that I’m more myself than I may have ever been in a room full of people. I can say without a doubt that in the last year I’ve been going there I have willingly gotten up and danced more than I ever have in my life. Anybody who knows me knows that is not just a step out of my comfort zone, it is a leap. I’ve seen plenty of kids come in and say that they don’t usually like these kinds of groups, but there’s something about Atomic Youth that makes them want to stay and get to know other kids. I’ve been volunteering there for almost a year and sometimes people will say “thank you for giving up your Thursday night”, but to me I’m really not giving up a night. I look forward to going, and if I ever have to miss a week it feels to me as if I’m giving up an opportunity to go back to Youth Group because on Thursdays I honestly don’t want to be anywhere else.