A few weeks ago my daughter and I were sitting in the living room. I was writing in my planner, she was watching an episode of “The Office”. She paused the show and began a conversation:
Daughter- Is it odd that I like being by myself as much as I like being with my friends?”
Me (to myself) Gee- You’re asking ME if it’s odd to want alone time?
Me (out loud this time) No. Not at all. We’re introverts. We need solo time to recharge our batteries.
Daughter- But why does it seem like everyone else always want people around? I mean, I was studying, but now I’m not, and instead of reaching out to someone, I decided to watch TV.
Me- Everyone is different. Some people feed off the energy of others. Some get zapped by too much external energy. Sometimes your brain needs a rest.
Daughter- But is it normal?
Why do introverts always feel like they are odd?
For some reason, society has decided that being surrounded by people at all times is superior to being by yourself. If you see a someone dining alone, most people feel bad. They think- oh- that poor person has no friends. It’s so sad that they are by themselves. We assume they are upset. But we don’t know this. We automatically thing: they’re alone. They’re losers.
My daughter has a lot of friends, including the same best friend since second grade. She doesn’t get into catty dramatic situations. She is a good friend and can be trusted, and has sought out friends who do the same. She is going on Spring Break (woo hoo) with them beginning tomorrow.
She is not a loner.
In elementary school she was the girl who hosted sleepovers with ten girls. Just imagine a room littered with sleeping bags and giggles. And middle school saw her Friday afternoon pizza parties where eight kids would be around the TV playing video games. And high school saw Sunday brunches with friends and mega Instagram events featuring six duck faced girls.
She likes people and is a good friend.
But she also likes to study. And she likes to read. And she likes to binge watch TV shows. All by herself.
So why does she wonder if she’s normal?
What is normal anyway?
And why does society think wanting to stay home alone on a Saturday night and study is weird?
People also have weird responses to her habits. She doesn’t have a boyfriend and has never harbored a desire. There have been no crushes in her teen years. There’s just been a lot of tennis and law team and drama club and newspaper. There’s been a lot of writing and reading. Yet…people have told us that she Definitely has a secret boyfriend. She’s just not telling us. Because it’s more normal to think a teen is lying than just not interested enough in dating. Dating is normal. Not dating is……weird
And then the same for parties. My daughter has never attended a traditional high school party. She doesn’t like the idea of them. And they tend to get raided by the police and there was no way she was screwing up her record and ruin her chances of a good college. Yet people insist she sneaks out to parties- that she just doesn’t tell us she’s going. Why? Because it’s normal for a teen to attend parties. If you don’t, it’s weird…
So why do we judge kids who aren’t the loudest in the room?
Why do we judge those who don’t like a heavy social scene?
Why do we judge those who like to spend time alone?