The Introverted Expat

by Sheryll on October 29, 2012

I sort of hate people.

Not really.

But sort of.

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always been drawn towards being by myself. I don’t like group work. I don’t like big crowds. I don’t like making plans or having parties for tons of people. I like going places by myself because I never have to worry about time constraints or what someone does/doesn’t want to do. I need alone time to function. Being around large groups/parties/crowds is exhausting. Draining. It’s part of the reason why I feel like, as much as I’d want to go, I’ll never be able to go to a travel blogging conference. I definitely want to meet all of the lovely people I interact with on a daily basis, but the thought of having to talk to so many people makes my brain want to explode.

This goes without saying that if I am in a large group dinner, meetup, or at a party, that I am not sitting in the corner, sulking and counting down the minutes until I can leave. I am social. I’m not rude, aloof, or shy. I know how to have an engaging conversation. But after a big day or night out, it sometimes takes me all day to recover. And not just from your typical, alcohol induced, hangover.

In college, I partied like the rest of them. Clubs. Bars. Non-stop from Thursday to Sunday. But it was always me and my 3 or 4 closest friends. And soon after college, I traded the clubs for quiet nights in lounge bars, or just buying a bottle and inviting friends over for an intimate gathering. And even more so, I’d buy a bottle of wine for myself, sit on the couch and watch movies or read books.

That’s what I consider the perfect day/night. Hanging out with close friends (no more than 4). Dinner. Wine. A conversation that doesn’t involve yelling over loud dubstep while a guy tries to grab your ass and a drunk girl spilling her pomegranate martini on you.

With Johnny gone to the gym and/or MMA class most of the week, I spend a lot of time alone. I live in the middle of nowhere. Getting up and going out involves a lot of time.  I’m not complaining in the slightest, as 94.3% of the time I’d much rather be by myself…

But what happens when your an expat and you want to see things? Do things? See and do things that possibly involve tons of people that you don’t know or want to talk to?

Well, for me, I start to feel guilty. I start to think that maybe I’m missing out on something. That I’m a weirdo for wanting to stay in with a book than go out and socialize.

“…maybe I should go out, just this once…”
“It can’t be that bad…can it?”
“…but my bed is so comfortable. And I have tea here. Good tea. Orange, chocolate, cream tea.”
“I’m a shitty friend. I should make plans to hang out with my friends.”
“And everyone lives so far…”
“Well, I just downloaded Magic Mike….”

Of course, there are PLENTY of things for us introverted expats to do in Korea: cafes, shopping, movies, art museums and galleries, exploring. I’ve personally been hanging out in Jukjeon cafe street almost everyday, eating macarons, drinking tea, reading or working on my online classes. But there are those times when I wonder what it would be like to be part of the crowd. Wonder what it would be like to not be so mentally exhausted by large group dinners. Wonder what it would be like to go to Gangnam, Hongdae, or Itaewon (or Seoul in general), on the weekends and not be completely overwhelmed and immediately want to go back to my house.

Are you an introvert? Are you an expat/traveling introvert? I’d love to hear what you think!