This essay was written when I was still nineteen. It was my fourth attempt in writing personal essay as a course requirement in our Writing Non-fiction class. I had to reach out for myself towards people way back then, so I thought I could write something about myself as one way for me to know myself better.
It is almost twelve in the midnight. All is sleeping and I’m the only one awake in the house. I am lying on my bed, away from the real and noisy world. I can’t sleep. I am calm. I am staring at some details of my comfort zone. I can still hear the ticktock of the clock. I can also hear the creaking of the crickets, the whooshing of the night wind outside and even the beating of my heart. There are lots of things running in my mind again. Whether good or bad, I am glad to recall these things because I know that this is my time for my true self to imagine, ponder, wonder, learn, settle, and criticize things from the people whom I encountered today. It’s good to be alone. I remember the quote of Aristotle written somewhere in the pages of Philosophy of the Human Person that I recently read in our Philosophy class. “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” That’s what it said. And when you are really into the mood of knowing yourself, you couldn’t help it but to be alone…
“Be a loner. That gives you time to wonder, to search for the truth. Have holy curiosity. Make your life living.”
Throughout my years of existence, I have this inherent personality which I find it odd. People view me as someone who is calm, secretive, loner, shy, quiet, and soft-voiced. My teachers, classmates, friends and relatives know me in these ways. For me, it feels like I am different from them and this “being different” is not the way I want it to be. But I guess that these are what I have been showing them after all, and I’ll just have to accept this difference whether I like it or not. Because of my behaviors, I am striving to become open to others.
From the one and a half day of recollection we had, I remember how I was described by my roommate as we were only two of us in the room. I didn’t know him and he didn’t know me either. It was our first time to meet each other. From the actions that I showed him last night, it seemed that he was able to observe me silently. The next day was our sharing. One by one, we shared our feelings and thoughts after the long and tiring session we had last night. Despite the fact that gadgets were surrendered, many said that they were bored but some were comfortable and refreshed. Our turn was finished and the last one who shared was my roommate. In the middle of his sharing, I couldn’t forget the line from what he said: “Mingaw kaayo kagabii kay hilumon man gud ang akong kauban, so naa pa koy daghang time para mobasa og Bible bag-o motulog.” I wasn’t able to talk to him deeply and continually like a man to man talk. I was only waiting for him to talk with me before talking to him too. Conversations like what’s your course, how are the studies, and some simple-and-usual-question-and-answer-when-meeting-for-the-first-time were the only conversations we had which I think awkward for him. So, he found the whole night of our retreat boring because of me, being a calm and quiet person.
“Introverts, in contrasts, may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while with they were home in the pyjamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often fell as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions.”
–Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
How I hate oral recitations. I am so sick of it. Whenever we have it in class, I have this stage fright where I am starting to feel nervous: my hands would sweat in coldness and my body would tremble in fear. I don’t know why. I think I am just shy and bashful. Maybe I am afraid to commit mistakes. Or perhaps I have difficulties with public speaking. There are so many insights I want to say on a particular lesson we have in class. But not all of these insights can be expressed directly when I am forced to speak. These can only be shared and expressed completely when writing. For the sake of my grades, I think first before reciting. What I think should be correct. Similarly, whenever there is a reporting on a specific lesson, I would immediately volunteer myself to do the researching or to make visual aids. I prefer to do the making and researching rather than presenting and explaining the topic in front of my classmates and teachers.
I know that being an introverted person is good but there are some instances where being introverted is not good at all. Since introverts are calm, quiet, and shy, they can avoid disturbing, interrupting, and harming others. Introverts choose to avoid distractions just like me.
Introverts are soft-voiced for they tend to minimize their volume like a voice of a cockroach and it sounds problematic. This is very evident on me. I always get to hear and see their common reactions and gestures saying: “Pardon?” “Ha?” “Again please.” “What?” “What did you say?” “Please repeat what you said.” “Your voice is too soft. Kindly turn it a bit more.”
“All this talking, this rather liquid confessing was something I didn’t think I could ever bring myself to do. It seemed foolhardy to me, like an uncooked egg deciding to come out of its shell: there would be a risk of spreading out too far, turning into formless puddle.”
Introverts like me are also secretive in a sense that they only share things which are limited for them to avoid giving too much detail. Introverts only share things which are limited to avoid themselves from knowing deeply by others.
“The only problem with seeing people you know is that they know you.”
–Brent Runyon, The Burn Journal
Once others already know you, there’s risk that they would judge you badly. It happened to me, oh yes. I once have a classmate named J.O. who already knew me. He is a moreno with a head of lustrously dark and skin bronzed by the sun. Since we have been classmates for a long time since elementary, he was sort of surprised when I told him that I took A.B. in English when we talked about our college life one time. Knowing this, he responded right away saying “Ano? English ang kurso mo? Mahiyain at matahimik ka pa naman. Dapat hindi mo yan kinuha baka kasi magsisisi ka lang.” How ironic it is to take this kind of course when in fact it does not match with who I really am. “Eh ano naman kung ito ang gusto kong kurso? At saka, sino ka ba para magpayo sa akin?” I softly and irritably whispered to myself. However, I told him that I took that course because I wanted it. I was the one who decided to take the course even though my parents advised me to take nursing. I am weak against both in Science and in Mathematics. I would doubt myself if I am to take that course. Besides, taking A.B. in English is a challenge for me to develop my communication and creativity skills. Until now, I am blessed and satisfied with this course despite of who I am.
Introverts don’t give directly their comments, opinions, and suggestions but they only hide these into their minds instead. Whenever we have meetings in a club or small talk in a class, I would just sit on a chair, listen to a conversation, and understand things without giving my comments, opinions, and suggestions. How I enjoy listening to deep discussions without the need for me to speak. I don’t react right away from what my fellow member or classmate has suggested. I only react through my mind and jot these down on a piece of paper. Sometimes they would tease me saying: “Magsalita ka naman dyan, Dats.” Similarly, whenever my classmates, teachers, and relatives would ask me: “Kumusta ka na, Dats?” I would often say “Okay lang.” although problems have been bothering me.
I can concentrate and focus on things when I’m alone. I feel at home when I’m alone. In fact, I’m happy hanging with myself, eating with myself, and going somewhere with myself regardless of my family. I am comfortable to play basketball alone. I am comfortable to sleep alone. I am comfortable to pray alone. And I am comfortable to study alone not in library but in home. I don’t feel comfortable hanging somewhere with anyone in class or in club, in group or in team. It’s good to be alone. Loner as it is but that doesn’t mean I have a lonely life just because I’m alone. Even though I am different from the extroverted people, this inner and self-centered life that I have, being alone makes me who I am: once an introvert, always an introvert.
“I also believe that introversion is my greatest strength. I have such a strong inner life that I’m never bored and only occasionally lonely. No matter what mayhem is happening around me, I know I can always turn inward.”
It is already past one. Closed in a room, I feel like my imagination becomes the universe while setting aside the real world. I have mentioned a bunch of thoughts already for myself. It was fun, yeah… It was really fun… The creaking of the crickets outside is getting louder and it’s lulling me to sleep. I am sleepy. I want to sleep. It’s time to go back into the real world of talk.