It’s not surprising that World Introvert Day falls on January 2nd, a date that clearly signifies the end of the holiday season and the many, many social activities and obligations that come with it. Work celebrations, holiday parties, family get-togethers…all the classic hallmarks of late December culminating in one last night out as we gather to say goodbye to the old year and ring in the new. For introverts, January 2nd can feel like a well-earned finish line at the end of a socializing marathon.
I consider myself an introvert. It’s something I’ve come to learn about myself over time, and a trait that seems to be growing stronger with each passing year. Just as with any categorization, introversion covers a spectrum, but in general, people who are introverted may be quieter and more reserved. They enjoy spending time alone, preferring solitude to a noisy, busy social setting. People often equate introversion with being shy or socially anxious, but this is not necessarily the case.
Sometimes introversion gets oversimplified into the false assumption that introverts dislike other people. While I’ll admit that my first instinct is to say no when presented with a social invitation, I’ll generally override that automatic response and go out with friends, having a good time in the process. Introverts can and do have friends, go out, and enjoy themselves. The difference between an introvert and an extrovert comes in how these social experiences affect them. My husband is an extrovert and he feels energized by being out in a group, stimulated by the many conversations and activities. Me? I find myself physically and mentally exhausted by the effort socializing necessitates. Personally, I require a period of quiet, solitary downtime to recharge afterwards.
It’s important to remember that introverts have full and meaningful friendships and relationships. Our connections are deep and valuable, but we may find ourselves with a small amount of close friends as opposed to a large group of acquaintances. In the years since I’ve become active on the internet, I’ve come to realize that my online friendships fulfill the perfect role for me. By interacting solely through our typed words, we connect on a variety of topics, getting to know each other and building relationships in ways that never tire me. For me, it’s the perfect match of technology and humanity.
As mentioned before, being an introvert isn’t necessarily synonymous with being socially anxious, but there can definitely be areas of overlap. I consider myself smart, self-sufficient, and capable, but there is still one task that will stop me in my tracks: making a phone call. I have friends who can just pick up the phone and call a business or restaurant to get the information they seek, and watching them almost feels like observing a superpower in action. I know that I spend more time scouring the internet for ways to get my appointment scheduled or my question answered than I would by simply calling, but that puts me so far out my comfort zone that I’m willing to explore all of my options before taking the risk of talking to someone directly.
That’s why I was so intrigued when I first found out about IMAlive. The idea of a text messaging based crisis line made so much sense to me. If plenty of people struggle with phone calls on even their best days, it seemed a logical conclusion that, in the midst of a crisis, this might become one more obstacle to getting help. By relying solely on messaging, IMAlive becomes a place where people can share their fears and worst moments without having to speak them aloud. A place where someone can sit in a room full of people and still convey the pain they’ve been keeping secret. A place where people can receive support and understanding even when they’re crying too hard to speak. And, as a trained crisis responder, a place where I have a moment to take a deep breath, write out what I want to say, and look over it before I hit “send” to be sure that I’m reacting with the utmost empathy and respect.
People need different things at different times in their lives. Sometimes there’s the need to hear a caring voice on the other end of a telephone line, but sometimes, especially when communicating the things we’ve kept hidden away, the chance to type them anonymously on a screen holds immense power. As a part of IMAlive, I’m so happy to be part of a community that is dedicated to providing this option around the clock and around the world.
To learn more about IMAlive, click here.