Getting energy from being alone

Zen-like flowers

I used to be a very shy person before entering high school, and even in my early years of high school I was very shy. I did not want to put up my hand or participate in class discussions, and my school reports always said I was a quiet student. They always said it like it was a bad thing. When I went to ballet class, I found myself to be very quiet around my classmates, and when I taught the class a routine I had choreographed (we all took turns), they said that it was the most they had ever heard me talk, because I was so quiet. They didn’t say that like it was a bad thing though, I guess they thought it was pleasant.

I noticed that it was in my jazz dance class that I felt more comfortable socialising with the other girls and taking the lead. I don’t know why I behaved differently around different groups, but this tendency to change my behaviour around different people became more apparent as I grew older.

Over time, I became more outgoing. At school, I think my classmates saw me ‘blossom’ from a very quiet, shy girl to a loud, outgoing and outspoken sort of rebel. I think they were surprised, or maybe they didn’t notice the change because they were around me so much. Sometimes you don’t notice these things until you take a step back.

I have such varied behaviour around different people that even my parents think I am shy and not confident, whereas my friends will say I have more confidence than them, and that I don’t seem shy at all.

I believe I am still shy. I don’t often like to approach people and start conversations, but if someone talks to me I have no problem with talking to them. I wait for people to approach me at meetups, and I let other people ask me questions rather than me doing the asking.

I put it down to being an introvert, and in all honesty, I have always believed I am an introvert, just that I am sometimes shy. ‘Introverted’ does not necessarily mean that I am by definition shy or quiet. In fact, I don’t think being shy has much to do with it. It was not until I spoke to some of my colleagues at my previous workplace that I realised we had, collectively, come up with a great explanation on how to differentiate between an extrovert and an introvert.

An extrovert gets energy from being around others, being around people.
An introvert gets energy from recharging and being by themselves.

I find that I am the type to come home after a big day out and not want to be around people because I just want to be alone and in a quiet place for a while. Just doing my own thing, engaging in my own hobbies.

I’m currently at engineering camp, which was wonderfully funded by our company, and during the break times I find that I need to sit down and do my own thing to regain energy. So I’m sitting in my room blogging instead of going to the beach, because I don’t really feel like going out this evening.

It also takes me back to Damien’s recent presentation at work where he mentioned that you will be surprised how much energy you will get from things that are not ‘going to sleep’. He gets energy from being around his wife and kids and makes sure he has quality time with them. I feel the same. Spending time around a few of my friends, or Nick, or my family, is a pleasant way to relax and at the same time feel refreshed. I am not a hermit, so I don’t always spend my time cooped up. Even though I don’t mind spending time around people, I find that being alone for a bit helps me regain energy. :)

Comments on this post

I can definitely relate to this post. I was also quite a shy and timid kid. There are photos of me with people dressed up in costumes (like bunnies or bears etc) and I look horrified, like “MUM, SAVE ME” lol. When I was a young teen mum would often call me ‘aloof’ because I’d have my head in a book for hours, or be on the computer, and not make a peep to anybody. With my friends I was more comfortable and I was the funny one in my group I think :) I think I surprised a lot of people when I actually studied Drama in high school, because it meant I had to go on stage in front of people! For me though, I felt like I was an entirely different character and not my awkward self, so it wasn’t as scary. It was fun :)

I’ve come out of my shell a lot over the years, and it’s led me to consider myself an ‘ambivert’, which is a fairly new term to me, or an ‘expressive introvert’ lol. I am a VERY talkative person these days and when I moved to the job I’m in now three years ago, my boss actually thought I was an extrovert, I talked so much. She didn’t think I was shy at all. I am shier and quieter around people I don’t know, or in large group situations. However once you get to know me I will rattle on about anything. That’s where my extroversion side comes out. My introversion side prefers intimate, one-on-one or small group situations, and hates being the centre of attention. I don’t always want to stay home – there are times that I really really want to go out! I notice that I tend to dominate a conversation if the other person is more introverted than me. And if the other person is an extrovert I’m happy to let them speak more or I might try and meet their level of enthusiasm lol.

It’s very interesting reading about how different people are, what makes them tick, how they recharge. And your personality definitely CAN change from when you are a child. Not sure if you’ve done the MBTI (Myers-Brigg Type Indicator personality test) but I had to do one for work, and mine was ISFJ (Introverted Sensing Feeling Judging), however I had several outliers; I had two outliers that went into Extroversion – ‘Expressive’ and ‘Initiating’. It made so much sense lol. But anyway, the lady who explained what our results meant told us that people’s MBTIs can change. I have no doubt this is true. If I had done the test as a teenager, there is no way ‘expressive’ would have come up. I would have been fully introverted.

Anyway, sorry for the long comment! I enjoyed reading this post :)

I enjoyed your comment! I think we have a lot of similarities and that I identify as an ambivert as well. A lot of people are surprised that I am actually shy because I am so talkative. I do talk a lot to people once I warm up to them, I find that sometimes I talk more than they do!

I used to be an INTP in my teen years, then I did the test in the past five years and got INFP on multiple occasions. It spat out an ESFJ once and I was surprised… it is an interesting test but I don’t find that I believe it much. :P

I’m definitely an introvert. Like you, I can be pretty quiet, but if I’m around the right people, watch out! I think I’m slowly discovering that I’m more of a social introvert. Oddly enough, I tend to initiate hanging out with friends but to me that gives me a better control of my schedule, so I much like that. But when I’m with friends and co-workers I like, I don’t mind being with them a lot. But put me at a loud party with people I don’t know or like, I’ll become a wallpaper.

Despite being social, I need a lot of alone time to recuperate. Like even this past weekend, I had a three-day weekend, and I spent my Saturday at home doing chores, went out by myself to a couple of coffee shops by myself with my Chromebook, and stayed home again on Monday. I could have used that weekend to meet people, but considering how I’d attended a birthday party last Friday, have a farewell party to attend this Friday, and then a work gathering next Saturday . . . yeah, I decided to stay away from people this weekend, haha!

I was thinking of posting a very similar entry, so I’m glad you wrote this! I get tired of people who think being introverted means being quiet and shy. I am an “outgoing introvert” as well, and it seems many people think that outgoing and introverted can’t go together. It’s as you say, it’s where you get your energy from and how you take in information.

I was similar to you where I was super quiet and shy when I was young, but over time, I have opened up, especially around certain groups of people. Being a manager at work and also doing things like event photography and photoshoots require me socialize and interact with people all day. After all that, I need to go home and just be on my own. When I did event photography for my work’s user conference, I skipped all of the parties because I just didn’t have the energy for it after talking with people all day.

Introverts aren’t hermits! We just need alone time once in a while!

‘How you take in information’ is interesting as well. At my previous workplace someone commended me on how I presented myself – he said it was obvious that I always thought about what I said before speaking, it sounded like my words were well thought out.

At work parties I rarely stay late, as I need some time away from people to relax, haha.

Nice post Georgie. I’m an introvert—probably of the extreme kind :) I think with age you get to be more comfortable with who you are. I think society and places of work tend to favour extroverts—this is a great TED talk that covers some of that and lots of other great stuff about being introverted: and this is a good read: and this is quite funny:

I was the exact opposite when I was young – now I’m a bit more reserved. I don’t know if I’d call myself an introvert though, and I’m pretty sure that I know when the change begin to take place…when I got glasses for the first time. Like you, I’m totally different around certain groups of people…or certain people in general. My Mom can always tell when something is bothering me or I don’t feel well…she says that I’m too quiet. :P

I was always the attention-hogging kid, but there’s one thing I don’t like – participating in class. I find myself often uninterested in what the teacher/professor has to say and I think sometimes they drag it out too much, which is perfectly okay! Just not my way of learning. Some people used to attribute it to me being shy and then my parents would say I’m too stubborn or rigid.

Which is not true! I am in no way shy, I absolutely love to start conversations, and I love talking to new people. I get my energy from people, from all people not just close friends. I don’t have to hang out with close friends to relax, I can relax with anybody if they are welcoming to my silliness haha. I also share a bedroom with someone and have no problem with it.

Unless I’m super tired. Then I just wanna be alone and sleep, haha.

I definitely have to keep getting recharged from being alone, and I know it drove me crazy despite loving also the fact my husband was off for a whole month due to the accident. I loved and then disliked it a lot. I’m glad he’s working again for obvious reasons, but also the fact I can have a lot of alone time again and figure out the things I need to do. I’m still outgoing and now that I conquered my stuttering and anxiety, I now can talk to people and participate in class. I’m too smart for my own good, I swear, I’m like Hermione. :D

I am introverted and shy too, but as I grew older, I’ve been put in some leadership position, and the jobs I do tend to require me to be more outgoing and outspoken. At the end of the day, I always need to withdraw somewhere where I do not need to interact with anyone. It amazes me how most people seem to be able to just go on and on with the socialising and “having fun”. Then there are other times when I just want to go out and have fun but part of me just refuse to let me leave the comfort zone.

I think it’s good to know that, because you can take them time for yourself just to have that space and know it’s not a bad thing at all.

I am an introvert as well, and find it hard to be around a lot of people because it really drains me and can be a bit disorientating sometimes. I am not as bad as I was in my teens/early twenties, but I still need space. xD

Being a quiet student is much better than being a loud student that causes trouble everywhere! Nothing wrong with being quiet unless you’re still quiet when you should be talking (such as the time when you’re taking your turn to teach the routine ;)).

Good to hear that you’ve blossomed. Especially now when you’re giving all of these great talks!

I’m an extrovert and those two statements are partially true- only when I am comfortable around people. If I’m not comfortable, I am too quiet @__@. It’s good to get energy from others! Hurray for positive vibes~~

I’m definitely an introvert. I need time to myself to recharge but do enjoy activities that could be seen as those more suited to extroverts, like concerts, house parties etc but then I’ll need time to myself after each and may not see people, bar my boyfriend and imidiate family for a few days. Lol. I was always very shy in school too but more outgoing in college.