At first sight, people most often feel taunted of approaching me. And they often feel more daunted when they hear me speak, or when they see me act the way I do. It’s not like I look like an ill-minded criminal for them to feel that way. It’s just that my aura is most of the time daunting for people who do not know me at all, and especially for people who know me very little.
I am an introvert. And if I am not misjudged for being just too shy, I am often misjudged for being too strict.
Situations like this do not surprise me anymore. And to tell you, most of my close friends’ first impression of me was “Maldita gud kaayo ka’g aura og nawng, mahadlok ko muduol sa imoha.” (You look so strict, at first I was afraid to even go near you.)
And if you think that people my age are the only ones thinking this way, unfortunately no. Even the ones way older than my age seem hesitant to even talk to me. And that makes my situation more unfortunate than it may seem.
I took up a bunch of online quizzes to check if my intuition of being an introvert is correct. And for all the bunch of quizzes I took, the result always direct to introversion. When I got into college, I learned that the different types of personalities are even subdivided into smaller factions. So, I took the most decent and worthy of trust personality test online to determine what type of personality I have, and what faction do I belong to. It’s called the Myers Briggs Personality Test. You’re basically going to answer a bunch of questions in a fixed time for you to get your result. Mine was INTJ.
Introversion, Intuition, Thinking, Judgment.
Just to make sure, I took the test twice. Still, I got the same results. Apparently, INTJs are the thinking introverts.
To outsiders, INTJs may appear to project an aura of “definiteness”, of self-confidence. This self-confidence, sometimes mistaken for simple arrogance by the less decisive, is actually of a very specific rather than a general nature; its source lies in the specialized knowledge systems that most INTJs start building at an early age. When it comes to their own areas of expertise — and INTJs can have several — they will be able to tell you almost immediately whether or not they can help you, and if so, how. INTJs know what they know, and perhaps still more importantly, they know what they don’t know.
In the broadest terms, what INTJs “do” tends to be what they “know”. Typical INTJ career choices are in the sciences and engineering, but they can be found wherever a combination of intellect and incisiveness are required (e.g., law, some areas of academia). INTJs can rise to management positions when they are willing to invest time in marketing their abilities as well as enhancing them, and (whether for the sake of ambition or the desire for privacy) many also find it useful to learn to simulate some degree of surface conformism in order to mask their inherent unconventionality.
Personal relationships, particularly romantic ones, can be the INTJ’s Achilles heel. While they are capable of caring deeply for others (usually a select few), and are willing to spend a great deal of time and effort on a relationship, the knowledge and self-confidence that make them so successful in other areas can suddenly abandon or mislead them in interpersonal situations.
(Source: INTJ: Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging, n.d.)
As a kid, I remembered that meeting new people was already a problem to me. Even then, I remember being surrounded with a lot of friends. I remember easily cracking jokes with the ones around me. I remember playing so hard outside that I’d have an asthma attack almost every week. My childhood was mostly spent under the sun. I would only go home when it’s already dark, and when I’m already hungry.
But things about my attitude with people, especially newly met ones worsened when my family decided to transfer homes. And we transfer from places to places a lot.
Because all the others around me were new, I always feel that I don’t belong. And I don’t want to belong either. I never received any kind of counselling from both of my parents, or from the adults around me. There was no checking if my behavior in school changed or what. And I always spend the day at home without talking to anyone as I was an only child and the kind of parents I have are not the ones you can easily talk to or even joke around. Hence, I was immune to silence. Thus, with my not talkative attitude.
As years passed, interacting with people became extremely exhausting. So, I spent the later years of my childhood not anymore playing games with the other kids in school or in the neighborhood, but with reading a lot of story books and watching a lot of TV. I would spend the whole weekend slumped in the floor making doodles, drawing, reading, writing and watching a lot of animes. When we came to Davao, I became the weird kid in the neighborhood that never went out. I would only go out if my mother would literally drag me outside our house when my cousin arrives to play with me. Every time I go out, I would hear our neighbors talk about me, about how I only go out of our house whenever my mother would ask me to buy something, or whenever I’m off to school.
Both my parents didn’t seem to mind this change in behavior because it made me do better in school. Whenever my grandmother would comment about my being too fascinated with staying at home, both my parents would say “Maayo na para dli mag sge’g laag.” (That’s better than going outside too often.)
And so, I lost interest in figuring out what the world outside has to offer. After all, staying indoors is more comfortable.
Plus, whenever I’m home, I can do a lot of thinking. And I am someone who does a lot of thinking. All the curious questions people around me have randomly asked, I already wondered about. At a young age, I figured how to look at the stars above and know if they’re too young or too old. I learned how to distinguish stars from planets or satellites. I learned about the Allied Forces and Axis Powers during the Second World War, who Hitler was, how he managed to kill millions of people, memorized the presidents of the Philippines in their proper order of administration, knew that the sun was also a star, what Japan did in the Philippines during the World War 2, what triggered the first world war, when and why the Treaty of Paris was signed. At age 11, I could talk about Philippine history than any high school student taking up Philippine history as a subject could. After all, high school students never listen to their teachers. The quiz bees my Grade 5 teacher make me join also helped a lot.
Because I seemed too expose with a lot of interesting happenings in books, real world contacts didn’t anymore interest me. After all, it was more fun reading about how a bunch of conquerors ate rats and boots (with animal skins) at the middle of the sea than meeting new people.
I never really cared about my personality when I was in high school and when I was at the early years of my college life. But now, it seemed that my introverted traits are in some ways bothering me. I don’t exactly care about other’s opinions, it’s just bothering me that others are bothered by me. Do you get what I mean?
I don’t like that others feel uncomfortable around me. Not for my sake but for their sake. No matter how strict my face looks like or no matter how tough my aura feels like, I don’t want to make others feel uncomfortable with me being around. I don’t want to be that kind of person.
Now, as I grew up, I realized that likable people always wore smiles in their faces and were good at keeping up with conversations and meeting new people. The younger me would have think of them as trivial talkers but really, it’s a talent. Not all people are quick in thinking how to keep up with conversations. It’s a talent that I do not have.
Everything starts with small talks. But I was bad at small talks –very, very bad at small talks. Still, I am trying my best to keep up with the conversations and make a good first impression. But it seems that until now, I am still not good at it. Even bad at it.
No matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to keep up. People always, always tire me. I feel exhausted whenever I spend the day with unfamiliar faces around. It always bothered me whenever my routines are changed. And I just can’t seem to fill in that missing conversation that was left hanging in the air. Talking in front or expressing my ideas in a crowd is not a problem. But I feel awkward when I’m around socializing.
Yet, it would be too immature and pretentious to say that I do not care at all. We all have to understand that there are different kinds of people in this world. There are people in life for whom we can talk about dreams and dungeons, and how the planets circled around the sun. And there are also people for whom we have to talk about how nice the weather was.
Hence, at the deepest part of me, I know that I should train up myself to do better in human interactions. It is both a natural and survival necessity to do well at social interactions because not everyone in the world is going to understand that I am an introvert. If I don’t do something, I will forever be judged for being too strict and unfriendly.
But the question is how?