I thought something was wrong with me.
I thought something was wrong with me for the better part of a decade.
It turns out, nothing is wrong with me at all. What am I talking about? Let me give you a little background.
I’m a 30 year-old male, a transplant living in Los Angeles, Calif. I grew up in the Midwest from humble beginnings (whatever that means…). I had a loving family, with both of my parents in my normal, white, middle-class life. I went through some self-(un)diagnosed social transition during my early teenage years and from high school into college, I turned into a homebody; I didn’t have a lot of friends–I loved spending all of my free time with myself.
It was around the time when the Internet started to become ubiquitous–no longer referred to as the World Wide Web. I had made some connections with online friends who shared similar interests as me. Those interests helped me to meet who would become my girlfriend.
Fast-forward a few years, a move to college in Texas, a heartbreak or two later and a new job that eventually brought me to Southern California, I still found myself wanting to spend all my free time at home: reading, watching movies, not socializing. By then I was living all by myself and didn’t know a soul for thousands of miles. If I was to thrive in my new environment, I had to do something. I still wanted at least a couple of friends. After all, who do you call when you need help moving or want a beer drinking buddy?
After seeking psychotherapy, forcing myself to go to random social events, and continuing in my self-doubt, nothing seemed to help. I felt like I was a normal person, I wasn’t shy or anything, I just preferred being by myself. Surely, there must be someone else out there like me. But… where?
It wasn’t until one of my times of socially immersed solitude (i.e. browsing the shelves of a bookstore in anonymity) where I found what turned out to be the book that would change my life. I hate to make such hyperbolic statements, but it really did. It changed my life.
You see, we all have labels good and bad, accurate or not, but I always identified myself as an introvert. No, rather, I just knew I wasn’t an extrovert like everyone else seems to be. As I started to read this magical book, I felt like the author was talking directly to me. Again, I must stress that I read a lot and I rarely, if ever, feel like a book has really spoken to me. But this book helped me to come to terms with what/who I am.
Hi, my name is Brent, and I am an introvert.
The book I’m talking about is called, The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World, by Dr. Marti Olsen Laney. In doing research on the introvert’s dilemma, I stumbled across numerous blog posts citing this same work of life’s answers. Their lives were changed because of Dr. Laney’s book, too.
On behalf of myself and the rest of the introverts you’ve touched, I want to thank you, Dr. Laney. Our lives are changed; suddenly there is meaning and understanding. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m an introvert and proud of it…
Now leave me alone.