I have a confession to make: I’m an introvert.
Shocked? You might be. This tends to surprise the people I meet while traveling. When they encounter me, I’m not shy, socially awkward, or quiet. (Me, quiet? Mind-boggling!)
It’s a common misconception that introversion means shyness. Actually, it’s how a person feels during and after social interactions. Extroverts are energized by social interactions; introverts are drained.
I consider myself primarily an introvert (60 percent introvert vs. 40 percent extrovert, if I’m being exact), but there is a time and a place where my curiosity goes toe-to-toe with my introversion and almost always wins — abroad. This is one of the things I love about traveling solo. It stretches and challenges me, both in how I behave and in how I perceive myself. As I’m deeply interested in and curious about things that are different than I, from what I’m used to, and from the U.S., I have to talk to people in order to discover these things. (Still waiting for that X-men-esque mind-reading mutation…)
This is why I always travel alone — because it’s always up to me. When I feel like connecting in conversation, I just look around. There’s always someone to reach out to. But when I need to retreat into myself, I can put my headphones in, I can bring up my Kindle, and I can be alone. Either way, my attention belongs only to me and I can choose who or what gets it.
More and more often, I’m willing to give in to conversations during travel. For whatever reason, being a social butterfly 10,000 miles from home happens to feel less emotionally exhausting. It’s kind of emotionally exhilarating. 🌎💛