S2E13 - Is Being an Introvert a Choice
The Friday before this episode airs marks the one-year anniversary of The Talkative Introvert Podcast. In celebrations of that, I figured I would do an introvert-related episode. I scour the internet to figure out if being an introvert is a choice. Below are the articles I reference:
Some parts of the transcript may be edited for better readability, but the content remains the same. Mostly removed duplicate words, vocal filler words, and added/removed some words for clarification.
Hey everyone! This is Meliza, and I'm the Talkative Introvert.
The Friday before this episode airs actually marks the one-year anniversary of The Talkative Introvert Podcast. So a year ago on May 28, 2020, I aired my very first podcast episode. I honestly almost completely forgot until I saw another podcast post. They posted their anniversary and I was like, wait. I'm pretty sure I started around the same time they did. So I had to go back onto my Buzzsprout profile, and then see when I aired my first episode. But yeah. So, The Talkative Introvert is now officially one years old. And so in celebration of this anniversary, I decided to do an introvert related episode for you guys, since that's pretty much how I started this podcast.
Anyways, today I'll be discussing whether being an introvert is a choice or not? So before I get into that, my voice is pretty hoarse today, a little more raspier than usual I feel like. And I drank a bunch of water. And I've been trying to clear my throat. But I think it's just because I did a lot of talking a night before. And I realized or I noticed that whenever I talk a lot the day before, like if I have a bunch of meetings that I'm facilitating, my voice gets really hoarse the next day. And I think that's just because I'm just not used to talking all the time, I guess or not talking a lot. Even though I call myself the talkative introvert, I spend majority of my day by myself working and I don't usually facilitate meetings on a regular basis. So there’s long periods of time throughout my day where I just absolutely don't talk. So that's probably why my voice is so hoarse. But anyways, back to the topic. Yeah. Is being an introvert of choice or not? This came about because my mom insists that I'm more like her than I think. But I highly disagree. I am a lot like my mother, but not in the social aspects of our lives. My mother loves to be around people. She loves people, she likes talking to people. She likes spending time with people, she gets lonely very easily. And she doesn't like doing anything by herself or on her own. She really loves parties and events. And she just really enjoys the company of others. Like she has no problem asking someone at a grocery store like, "Oh, what do you guys cooking?" Like she'll see what their ingredients are that they bought. And if it seems really interesting to her, I've seen her talk to them and ask them what they're cooking and how they're cooking it. Because cooking is really like one of her favorite things to do. Also, it's like one of her, I believe, one of her best talents. And so she is totally cool with going up to people and asking them stuff and talking to them. And she even sometimes gets excited to talk to people, complete strangers. And I'm like the complete opposite of that. I definitely don't. I'm definitely not a social butterfly like she is. But she refuses to think that I am an introvert, I guess. I'm not sure. I don't think she really understands what that means like being an introvert or an extrovert. But she doesn't believe me that I'm not more like her. I think last year was definitely more apparent than ever, how much she's a social person, because she finally did retire, then the pandemic has been really rough on her because she enjoys the company of others so much. And she was totally ready to do all the things she's been talking about. Because she wanted to take classes specifically like cooking classes or.... what does she say? Like gardening classes and different types of like just fun classes that has to do with her hobbies and learning how to do new things. And she also was super excited to like hang out with our girls. Because I believe all of them or most of them are retired. And they love to hang out and she was telling me about before the pandemic. They literally spent all day together. And they like stayed at a restaurant so late that they were close and then they went to Starbucks and they stayed so late there until they closed and she just loved that.
It was like when she talks about it, you could like see the glitter in her eyes. Or the glimmer? Or whatever. But she was so ready to do them, participate in clubs, go to community centers and hang out with other retired folks. And she is especially excited to host some parties and events. Because when she's working, she doesn't really have the energy or the time to do that. But now she can. And she actually was pretty disappointed. Because my brother and I both got married in 2019. But we both also decided not to do the whole big wedding. My brother didn't even invite anyone to his wedding. He married his wife a week before his birthday, then we went out to eat to celebrate his birthday. And he's like, "Oh, by the way. I got married." I was pretty shocked. Not gonna lie. I mean, I knew they would probably get married eventually, because they've been together for a few years now. And were living together and all that. But I didn't think he would go secretly get married. And a family member actually was like, "Did your brother knock up his girlfriend? What's up with the secret wedding?" But that's not the case, she actually didn't get pregnant until after they were married. So literally just did the secret wedding thing. Then if you listen to previous episodes, I didn't have the big wedding, either. My husband and I actually got married at the same place, my brother and his wife got married. But I, at least, invited my mom and other people. But our wedding was a total o 20 people, we didn't invite a whole lot of people, we just kept it local. Which in a way kind of sucked because we didn't get to invite other friends and stuff. But because it's like a courthouse wedding, there's not really a large capacity. And so we just kept it to whoever was local, because it was a Friday. So like whoever could take a Friday off within two weeks’ notice, I think. I think we literally told people like two weeks in advance. And it was just people who lived here in Sacramento. Because if we were going to invite literally everybody else, and all our friends, it would end up being... I don't know. Probably like 200 people, and we were just not about that. Especially if our parents were going to invite their friends and all that stuff. And it's like all these people we don't actually know. But my parents or our parents know and talk about them all the time and they're close to you and blah, blah, blah. It just wasn't about the whole big wedding. And so my mom was pretty upset with that. My mom dreamed of having a big extravagant wedding because she didn't get to have one. She also did a courthouse wedding with my dad, because I don't think my dad was really into it. So, it did kind of suck. I did feel kind of bad, because I did want that for my mom. But at the same time, it's not about her. It's about me and my husband. So I felt bad, but not at the same time because it turned out the way we wanted it and how other people wanted it, I guess. I still got to do some wedding stuff. Like I still brought my mom to the cake testings. Well, it was her idea to get a cake. So, me and her did the cake testing. So Brandon didn't even get to go and to taste the cakes and like, see the cakes and all that stuff. I just asked him like, what theme we wanted. And so we did a... because originally if we were going to do the whole big wedding, we kind of want it to be Fallout themed, like the game Fall Out. If you guys are familiar with that. It's like this post-apocalyptic 50s kind of era. So if the nuclear war actually happened and everything became a wasteland, so you're kind of stuck in the 50s because that's when it happened. But it's still modern because there's still robotics and whatever. Anyways, it was gonna be kind of like that. 50s old vintage themed anyways.
And we got to design the cake, but my mom was the one who actually went to the bakeries with me and did the cake testing. Like you think we would be planning her wedding and we did go dress shopping even though I already had a dress. My mom just wanted to look at the other wedding dresses and look at just how they looked on me I guess. And there's just no way though that we would have gotten a wedding dress because you have to get measurements. Like all wedding dresses are kind of special ordered, and tailored to your body. So there was no way to do that within two weeks. So I ended up just borrowing my friend's dress, and she ended up just giving it to me anyways. And I just altered it a little bit. And so my mom got to at least be part of the whole dress thing. Because we still added stuff to it and modified it a little bit to more of my taste and preference. So, she got to do some stuff, okay? So it wasn't all bad. But yeah, anyways, so she was so upset that we didn't do the big wedding. But because we didn't do the big wedding, she also very much insisted on just doing a wedding party. No reception or anything like that just... what's it called? Ceremony, but just a wedding party. So we did a joint wedding party of my brother and his wife, and then me and my husband. And we did that on May 4th. Just like a couple months after our actual weddings. Man, there's that raspy voice. Okay. Not gonna lie though, it was pretty stressful. And it was kind of a lot of work. I mean, I guess it's not as much work as doing a real wedding. And I understand that. But it's just a lot of work in general, because I don't plan parties. Either people hang out with us or they don't. I don't think I've ever really planned a party, other than my debut. But other than that, it was just stressful, because we were getting the invites out. And even though it's my mom's party, and she's the one that wanted it and we didn't want it, we still ended up doing a lot of the work. So in a way, it kind of was more about her than it was about us. But we just did it anyways, you know, to make her happy. And other family members were also pretty upset that they weren't invited to our wedding. And I get that. It's a big event. So yeah, we did the whole wedding party. And again, that one because it's at my mom's house. And because it's a joint of my brother's friends and our friends and our families. Like I also didn't invite all the people I would probably invite either. Because Brandon just has like a ton of friends, too. So, that would have been too big. And then my nephew was also in town cuz he's in the Marines. And my mom said, "Yeah. invite your friends too." And I was just like, oh my god, it's just like so much. It was too much. And I know that that's not the end of it. Like once this pandemic is over, my mom is gonna go back into party planning mode and finding some excuse to like have some type of party. We didn't get to do her retirement party. So we'll probably end up doing that. And then something for her birthday, or... I don't know something for her because I know she loves the parties. And honestly, I'm just feeling exhausted just thinking about it. And we don't even know what party she's planning at.
So this whole episode came about one day, because I was just hanging out with her. And we were having a conversation about how weird it is not having my dad around anymore. So my dad died a couple years ago now. And she said that she just misses having another person in the house, even though they didn't really spend a whole lot of time together. Because my dad was pretty sick before he died. He stayed in his room and watched TV majority of the time. His room is basically a hospital room. Like he had an actual hospital bed that got shipped there from Kaiser and he had his oxygen tank and all his medical stuff. So my mom did move out of that room and into one of the spare rooms. But she just misses a person. Like just a living person. Not her dogs, just a living person just in the house with her. And she was talking about even just living in one of those assisted living places so she can socialize with other retired people. And I remember telling her like, I don't think I would live in those kinds of places. Like if Brandon died and when we get older or even now, I think I'll just live on my own. Like I wouldn't mind living by myself. I don't think I'd want to do the whole assisted living or living in some type of community where you're socializing with other people and there's events and I don't know, daily activities. Like I'd rather just be by myself. And I told her that I would just get tired of all that stuff and socializing too much. And I would just feel obligated to go. And I would have to constantly make up excuses not to go. And I told her, even now I get so tired, when there's an event, one after the other. And I can't. I just can't spend too much time with people, and I need my alone time. You know, your typical introverted stuff. And she kept saying, "Well, you're just saying that now. You just think that now. But that's not how you're going to feel. And that's not how you're going to think once you're actually by yourself." And she just doesn't believe me that I can handle being by myself. Like to a degree, I get it. She could be right. Because I don't really know what it's truly like to be on my own. Because I've always lived with Brandon since I was 18. Since I moved out, we always live together. I never lived on my own. But I feel like I just know myself well enough that I can definitely handle being by myself, at least more than she can. And unlike her, I very much enjoy doing a lot of things by myself. Like I said earlier, she doesn't really understand the whole introvert extrovert thing. And she didn't even really understand what my podcast title meant. But I don't know if that's a language barrier, or she just doesn't get it. Like she doesn't understand the difference. And looking back at that conversation, it made me want to research is it a choice? Is being an introvert or an extrovert a choice? Are you born this way? And of course, I went to the interwebs to figure that out. Based on some articles I read, they say that there's not really any definitive proof that we're born this way. But it is definitely something that is set really early in development. And I can't remember how old you are, but I think it's like four years old something. It's just really early on in your development. You already know whether you're an introvert or an extrovert, or have introvert or extrovert tendencies. So whether we are born this way or not, at least we just know at a young age what we are. Or not know, but we have the traits of what we would be. And that doesn't really change when we get older.
Rather introverts may adopt extrovert traits and may outwardly act more extroverted for specific reasons like getting through a social event or networking or any of that. I definitely adopt a lot of extrovert traits just to get by and like my work events and stuff like that. Luckily with this new job, we don't really have that and with the pandemic we don't have that. But I definitely had that whole 'Fake it till you make it' concept down when it comes to work. And the articles I read, even though introvert adopt those extrovert traits and tried to be more extroverted outwardly, once an introvert reaches their social limit, they just were brought back to their introverted ways so they can recharge. No matter how hard they tried to be more extroverted, they still need that alone time, that solitude to recharge for the next social event. So you introverts out there, no matter how hard you try, no matter how many extroverted traits you master and you adopt, you're still gonna need that solitude or to replenish your social media. Because no matter what, spending time with people will still exhaust you. And to me, I feel like in that aspect, it's not a choice. And then another article I read, it explains how our brains just react in a specific way based on the types of stimuli that are presented to us. So this certain article stated the sensitivity towards dopamine is higher for introverts as compared to extroverts. Therefore, introverts will be overstimulated if dopamine is released in higher levels. Meaning our brain is wired a certain way. So if our brain reacts differently, then again like I said, that leads people to believe that introversion and extroversion is not a choice. Rather, it's a functionality of the brain. So this article does speak more into the science behind introversion and extroversion, how their brains work, our brains work and how they differ. So I'll definitely link all the articles that I read. So if you want, you can read it for yourself. This specific article, there's just a little too much science jargon for me to share. But the main gist is that our brains develop differently. An introverted brain can be differentiated from an extroverted brain. Then I learned that our environment and experiences also shape how introverted or extroverted we are. Because no one is 100% one way or the other. We're all on a spectrum. That's why when you take the MBTI test, you get a percentage. An example one of the articles used was a comparison of two siblings. They were both considered introverts because of their need to recharge after socializing. However, the older sibling received positive feedback and was rewarded for being bold or showy, while her younger sibling was told that she was copying her sister, when she acted the same way and received negative feedback. So the younger sibling ended up being more shy and restrained as compared to her sister, who ended up being more eager to make new friends, for example. And so that made me think about what made me so introverted. Because if you listen to previous episodes, I got 93% introverted, which I'm not sure if that's possible? Because that seems very introverted, but I don't know. And I never took the official MBTI quiz, I only did that 16 personalities quiz. I do want to actually take the real test someday. But it does cost money. I think it's like 50 bucks to do. But I do actually want to take it and officially know whether I am an INTJ or not. So I will probably cough up the money someday to do it. Because I do need that validation. Because I'm going around, saying I'm an INTJ. And I do INTJ episodes, and I use the INTJ hashtag #INTJ. And even though I feel like I do highly resonate with being an INTJ and I enjoy the means and I love the INTJ podcasts and things I hear about and learn about it, I still want to double check. Because the 16 personalities, I don't know how accurate that quiz is. Because it's it's a fairly short quiz. And it's a very fast quiz. And it's...I don't know. So, someday I'll take it. Maybe I'll do that this month. And I'll let you guys know.
Anyways, I do remember, at a young age, what may contribute to my highly introverted nature. Because I do remember being rewarded for being the quiet one. And adults liked me because I wasn't so rowdy. And they liked that I was more mature and whatnot. And I very much enjoyed being around the adults also more than the kids. And I remember back then the adults used to tell their kids, "Why can't you be more like Mia?" Oh, Mia is my nickname at home, by the way. And not gonna lie. I definitely liked that but I would never gloat or express that in front of the other kids. But the adults did favor me. And they gave me the positive feedback on my behavior and how it was okay that I was quiet and reserved and a little more conservative and not so rowdy, all of that. Because also, coming from a religious background, a Christian background, in a way, I was rewarded for being an introvert also. Because like I said, I was a little more conservative. So unlike some girls, I wasn't super infatuated with getting guy's attentions and being their friends. I mean I wasn't really trying to be anyone's friend. I feel like people kind of just adopt me. I don't think I ever really went up to any of my friends. They always just found their way to me with the exception of my husband, because my brother told me to go talk to him. But other than that, I don't really seek out friends and I don't try and go out to make friends and they kind of just come to me. I'm pretty sure that's how all my friendships are. I do remember going to a party once when I was pretty young. I think I was still in elementary school. And I remember it was like a boy girl party. You know when you're younger, you call them like the boy girl party. And the girls would be super touchy with the boys and they would even sit on their laps and giggle at their stupid jokes. And I was just not into that. It was very uncomfortable. And I didn't like it and I thought was really weird and just like a little... I don't want to say grossed out. But I guess you could say grossed out. And at the time when I was younger, I'm not thinking these girls are slutty or whatever. Cuz that wasn't my thought process. I just didn't like the type of interactions that the kids were having with each other. And I definitely noticed my parents were very appreciative of that, and that I didn't participate in the lap sitting. And they were glad that wasn't super touchy. And I'm sure if I was though, they'd probably say something. Because they were there. And they did not like all that was going on. But it was also not their kids. So I think that's why they didn't say anything. But they definitely were looking out for me and my brother, and we didn't participate in that stuff. So those were all kind of good reasons that contribute to my introversion. I definitely was rewarded in a way for being a little more strained and a little more conservative that way and not so touchy, feely, and all over people and too rambunctious and all that. Even now, I think physical touch is last on my love languages. But another reason what I think contributed to my introversion also was because I was also an overweight kid. And I'm so overweight now. The only time I wasn't overweight was in high school. Which really sucks, because I was hoping that I would at least carry on to college. I did only for the first couple of years. But cultural stressful, okay? So I did get made fun of being overweight. So I didn't like being center of attention. I still don't like being center of attention. I didn't like being center of attention, even when I wasn't overweight. And I didn't like being in social situations when I was a kid either. Because if you guys know anything about Filipinos and sorry to generalize, but they're very blunt. And they don't mind saying things in front of your face. And I still get like the, "Oh, you've gained so much weight." Or like, "You gained..." Whatever.
Anyways, so I didn't like that. And I didn't like that about social events. And I didn't like when people would point that out. So I think that's another reason why I became so introverted. It was just kind of like the teasing and the bullying and all that stuff. And also led to my self-image issues and all that stuff. So I guess I can see why my introversion is so high. Because I do think I learned from a very, very young age that I'm safer when I'm alone. Because when I'm alone or with my husband, or with only super, super, super close friends and family members, I know I won't be bullied. I know I won't be teased for my weight and my appearance. And I know that I don't have to worry about how I look. And that could just be myself. I have an amazing group of friends who don't judge me. Or if they do, they don't at least say it. And we're just very supportive of each other. But it's just like our really small group of close-knit friends, that I'm comfortable really being myself around. And not really around other people, especially big family events with all the aunties who say mean things about your weight. So I love my friends. They're just like that meme. You know you're true friends, if you can send ugly snaps to each other. And that's exactly what we do. We're totally comfortable sending each other ugly selfies and it's totally fine. I don't feel weird and self-conscious about it around them. And you know another thing, I think that's probably why I also just really love animals and I'm an animal lover. I can never go hunting ever. I just can't. If I go hunting and I see that animal look me in the face, I just can't. I could never do that. Because I love animals and I'm just so attached to my dog, too. He doesn't tease me, he doesn't bully me. He doesn't say awful things to me. He doesn't make me feel self-conscious. Whether I'm 100 pounds or 600 pounds, he's still gonna love me the same. Because pets don't care about how you look. Just how you treat them. And honestly, if only humans were the same way that would be so amazing. But you know, here we are. But yeah, anyways, I'm sure there's a lot of things that happened to me as a child that shaped to my introversion. Especially like that 93%. Oh my god, I wasn't expecting to get such a high percentage but looking at my life and how my life is, yeah. That makes sense. I spent a lot of time alone especially cuz my husband works a lot. But even though I have friends and I could choose to hang out with people, I feel like any day of the week, I could probably find someone to hang out with. But I just choose not to. I really do choose to be by myself a lot. And I very much enjoy being by myself a lot. Because I don't know, it's like my safe zone, my bubble. And I think I just have a lot of hobbies, too, that require me to be by myself. And so if I do have someone around while I'm doing my hobbies, it kind of just interrupts that focus. But anyways, even though some of the things that impact where I am on the spectrum of introversion can be positive but also negative, I'm not really mad about it. In a way I kind of take pride in my introversion. I feel like because I can handle being by myself, and I enjoy being by myself, I feel like it makes me more resilient. And it makes me more dependent and capable to take care of myself. Not saying that other people can't and extroverts can. I'm not saying that. But I think that being introverted makes that a little easier. It definitely makes it a little easier to be by myself if I have to be by myself. And honestly, if you were to ask me if I'd want to change, because I do see that question a lot on Reddit in the introvert subreddits. Like would you ever want to change? If you had the choice, would you want to be an extrovert? Ans I just see some people say yes. which kind of makes me sad, a little bit because it kind of means that they don't like themselves. But for me, I think I can honestly say no. I like my introverted nature. And I like that I am introverted.
So after everything that I read, and all the articles I read, and all my internet searches, I came to the conclusion that whether being an introvert is a choice from what I can understand? No, I don't think so. It's just how our brains are configured. And it's just how we are and people kind of have to just accept that. And when I say people, I mean my mom. So sorry, mom. I didn't end up being the social butterfly you wanted but don't think I will be changing anytime soon. But don't worry, guys. I know my mom still loves me. She actually just texted me asking when I'm coming over again. Which happens a lot. Because only seeing her once or twice a month apparently isn't enough. All right. Thanks for making it to the end. If you enjoy what you hear and want to stay up to date on the show, please follow me on Facebook and/on Instagram. You can also check out my website at thetalkativeintrovertpodcast.com. All the information will be on there as well as in the show notes. If you want to help support the show, please review and rate the podcast and share it with your friends and family. I actually have a link in the description and it's ratethispodcast.com/thetalkativeintrovert. It'll actually take you to some instructions on how to write and review the podcast. Because I know for me when I started, I didn't even know how to do that. So I got this nifty link and you can just go to it and it'll teach you how to rate it on, I believe, apple and wherever else. So, please go check that out. If you like the podcast, please please please review and rate. Thanks so much guys, and I'll talk to you in the next episode.