Yes, I can be an introvert and still have friends.
Walking through the hallways of high school with tons of friends on my side, I would notice people walking alone. My instant thought was, "they don't have any friends?", and now, that person walking through the hallways alone is me.
It's interesting to think that the person who you see walking alone in the hallways is happier than you are; someone who surrounds themselves with so many people. I would think, "wow, they must be lonely", in reality, I was the one who was truly lonely, yet surrounded by so many. How could this be?
All throughout high school, I was the social butterfly. I liked being social, going out to social gatherings at school and outside of school. But, I was also a social butterfly to fulfill my anxiety. The constant fear of being disliked and wanting to be accepted by everyone. I was what they call a people pleaser. I wanted to be accepted by those around me, and I barely thought of myself. All I wanted was to fit in.
I didn't know who I was and suffered with pretty severe anxiety. I felt like I was always an extrovert on the outside and an introvert on the inside. I had various extrovert characteristics, I liked having friends and I hated being alone, especially in high school.
As I would surround myself with large groups of friends, I would still feel alone at the end of the day, and this is what I struggled with the most. How could I still feel so alone with so many people around me? I used people to fulfill myself, I quickly realized how toxic that was for my mental health.
I have never been comfortable with being alone. I have always purposely surrounded myself with people even when I knew they were never good for me, just so I wouldn't have to be alone. I would keep people in my life even if they were talking bad about me, or weren't in my life for the right reasons.
Every time I felt like someone didn't like me, or I was conflicting with a friend, I would get an increase of anxiety. I would change things about me to fit in, do things that I usually wouldn't do; or should I say things I didn't want to do.
If someone wanted to go out, I would just go to fit in. I never wanted to miss out on anything, so I went to social gatherings just to go. I wanted to make sure people weren't talking about me. That was one of my biggest insecurities I had to get over. Not that I had just fake people around me, but they were definitely there lingering in my presence throughout my high school experience.
As I enter my second semester of college, I am realizing how I have converted by extroverted self into an introvert, and that’s ok. People change as they grow older. Not that I want to sit in my room alone all the time, but I now cherish that alone time. I told myself I didn't need a big group of friends to feel fulfilled.
I can happily say I prefer a small group of friends in college. I have diminished my fear of missing out, or people talking about me due to the fact that I am happy doing my own thing and growing slowly on my own. I have quickly realized being in college that it is me against the world.
I never wanted to consider myself an introvert because some people associate it with loneliness, or having no friends, but that isn’t the case. An introvert is someone who is accepting of themselves to the point where sometimes you want to say no to plans or take some you time, and that is okay.
I am okay with being in my room finishing paper's on a Saturday night when people are out partying. I am okay with spending my time studying and being productive. It’s not that I have social anxiety, it's the fact that I am trying to better myself and tell myself I don't need to surround myself with a ton of friends to be happy.
When I say I have transformed to an introvert, I still have extroverted habits. I love talking to people, and I am comfortable doing so. Although, sometimes I prefer to be alone, and not go out all of the time. I am happy in the comfort of books and within myself. Yes, I say no to plans sometimes because I want to relax. Sometimes you need alone time and alone time is significant for the process of growth.
I no longer keep toxic people in my life just to simply say I have people in my life. To show I am someone I am not. That is not me anymore, and this is me saying goodbye to the person I once was. Someone who dealt with fake friends, gossip, and crappy relationships.
I am on a journey of self-love, consisting of me growing myself to have the ability to be comfortable with my solitude. It isn't always easy, but I know it will be worth it in the end.