An Introvert In The Big City

“Introvert” and “big city” might not be two things you naturally think go together. Introverts like quiet time to themselves and are easily overwhelmed by their surroundings because of everything their senses are busy picking up on and processing. Whereas a big city is busy, loud and, sometimes to be frank, pretty intimating for a sensitive soul. Yet, as an easily over stimulated and sensitive introvert, I keep finding myself being drawn to big cities. Why, when it naturally seems to go against my instincts, you ask? Well, I’ve asked myself that question too.

I grew up on a farm in the countryside, never really considering how remote it was until the kids from town called it “no-man’s-land”. Perhaps because I always had people around me; my family, relatives and the neighbors in the village. And I really liked the nature and you know, breathing fresh air. The biggest negative was probably always having to ask for a ride everywhere. Except for the school bus, there was no other public transport for us to take. It was a dream to finally get my own driver’s license.

I always knew there was a bigger world out there though, and I was very hungry for it. I spent a few of my teenage years traveling as much as I could, and then, later on, packed my bags and moved to Sydney, Australia. After living there for five years, I moved to London last year. London. With 8.7 million people outside my window.

For someone who so often likes to exist within their own little bubble, I guess I simply wanted to put my comfortable little bubble right in the middle of the craziness. This way, I’m there in the smack of all the happenings without really engaging too much in it. I look out my window and I see the red double-decker buses packed with commuters, people in suits rushing to and from work and the tourists following a map on their phone. But they don’t see me. I’m in the safety of my serene bubble (aka flat).

Looking onto the world this way is very different from a child who feels left out from a group of friends. It’s more like an opportunity to be in control of how much I’m interacting with the world. My sister once said that she can see my point of view and understand my inner workings. But she also understands the rest of the world, and she can see where I and the world sometimes clash. We simply don’t understand each other that well sometimes. But there she is, in the middle, ready to build a bridge between us when needed.

Thinking back, I realize this was my subconscious approach to friendships and social status when I was younger. Maybe even still. Unlike some introverts, I’ve always had quite a lot of friends. I’ve been part of a group and had my closest friends within the group. I prefer to be in control of how much I interact with them and like to take the back seat rather than taking on a big role within it. I’m there but on my own terms. I take part but to a certain degree. Perhaps I like to know that I have the option to do something if I wanted to, and then most of the time feel perfectly fine not doing it.

As I’m typing this, I’m sitting on my bed with the window cracked slightly open. Only slightly because, as previously mentioned, the city can get very loud. If I was to leave the building, I’d step right into the masses of everyday life happening. And simply knowing I could do that, makes me feel like I’m a part of this society, without actually having to involve myself fully in it.

Every time I do step out that door, my heart starts beating faster, and I become super aware of my surroundings at the same time as I shut down and succumb to my busy head. It feels like my body and mind has a reaction to absolutely everything that’s going on around me. And it really does exhaust me, regardless if I put my headphones on and listen to music or not. I am stressed out the whole time I’m out there in the concrete jungle.

So at the end of the day, I rush home only to breathe out in relief as soon as I enter my home. It doesn’t matter if I’ve been working all day or just popped down to the supermarket. I go through the same motions every time I leave and return to the flat. And I think that explains why I so often come home feeling as if I’ve run a marathon, both physically and mentally, and need a moment (or several) to rest.

One could think that I would prefer not to put myself through all that on a daily basis, but I do. Perhaps later in life, I will choose to live in the countryside again. But for now, I believe I have a big case of wanting to have the cake and eat it too.

Are you a city or countryside introvert? Share below!






Edited by Viveca Shearin

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