I was always the quiet kid. Any quiet kid will know the pressure to perform socially. Just the simple act of speaking makes me feel like I'm giving away my voice rather than sharing it. Being quiet rests on the balance between selfishness and selflessness too. I never intend on being alone to mean that I'm selfish nor do I revel in having an audience to judge my performance. From my middle school days, I started to realize that I was more comfortable knowing who I was when no one else seemed to know who they were themselves.
That is what groups are for: you belong so you don't have to bother with who you are, only what we are. What good is a group if you do not know who you are or have yet to define yourself and you have others continually lost in mystery rather than actively solving the question of "Who am I?" As an introvert, part of the joy and the strife is getting to know someone other than yourself, to have an extended connection with another person without compromising who you truly are.
The effort I put into listening and giving advice is not always reciprocated by the person I speak to. They do not know that they have stopped the conversation short because they received the solace they were after. They do not know the other half of it. That half is the person they are speaking to and are not speaking to. That half is the rest of the rounded person they could be, not to appease the other, but to understand them and adapt to them.
I enjoy having my own internal narrator. I do keep to myself but I wouldn't say I'm reclusive. I'm happy inside my mind maybe more so than outside it, but expressing that inner happiness through the words I choose and steps I take helps me reach a balance. I don't enjoy talking at great lengths. It's not that I won't talk to you, I just don't want my persistence to make me unwanted.
I enjoy being emotionally intelligent. I think with my feelings but I'm not blindsided by them. I'm more sensitive than my stone-face shows too. I don't enjoy being intellectually siphoned. Sometimes I expect more out of people but I can't assume too much of someone or too little. I see it as a learning opportunity before they decide to take advantage of what I know or who I am.
I enjoy being with myself. It gives me a chance to improve without an audience. I can't be careless and I can't waste time. I don't enjoy being alone or in groups for too long. I have to remind myself to ease back into those connections. I usually wait for someone to address me first instead of making the first move. I go from I-don't-want-to-be-a-bother shy to I-couldn't-be-bothered shy but I don't mean it selfishly. I'm present, not absent, in an unassuming, observant way.
I enjoy my work ethic. Sometimes it's cluttered, sometimes it's organized, and sometimes it's controlled chaos. I don't enjoy interrupting my work. Once I'm invested it's hard to detach from its importance. I enjoy being soft spoken. I get to show people we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. I don't like being loud. I never had the need to show pride or fake my excitement. The only drama I like belongs on a stage. I enjoy one-on-one conversations. I get to hear original you. I don't enjoy over the shoulder and within earshot influence. Anytime I can't be myself because of a group is not a group worth being a part of.
I think you have to compromise with the qualities that you could improve on. I'm not saying I'm giving up being an introvert and I'm not saying I will become an extrovert instead. I can be an extrovert but only as an introvert finds it suitable to be. An extrovert has to prepare differently to be an introvert. I have the potential to be a social equalizer, so I don't mind being on the fence. It just means I get to walk on both sides of the grass.