The Lone Flame: An Extended Metaphor Explaining Introversion.


What is an “introvert”?

Often people use this label to describe someone who is shy, doesn’t like the outdoors or just doesn’t enjoy socialising, but is this really the case?

Um, basically; no.

I mean, kind of…it’s close but uh, no actually, it’s farther than the truth than- hm.

It can be confusing to explain, maybe even more so for those who are less gregarious than most, like myself. However, I am here to confute rather than to confuse, and have constructed a litta-bitta a metaphor to try and explain these mysterious creatures.

Of course, everyone experiences life differently, and so my experience of being a so-called introvert may differ hugely from someone else’s. In which case, at least I can help someone out there to understand my interpretation of my own behaviour:

We burn out easily.

Like a tealight, there is a time limit to our social abilities, meaning there is only so much energy we can create before dwindling out.

I’m not talking about physical energy though- introverts are not these unnaturally fatigued people who just stay at home so they can sleep, for we are at our most productive in our own sanctuaries. Wrap me up in my polyester swaddles and chuck a crayola my way and I’m content for hours on end.

Let’s say the flame is “social energy”, the wick is time, and all other external elements are the people we meet and the places we find ourselves in. The wick is always getting shorter, regardless of the external elements and the flame is inevitably going to go out. However, external elements can speed this process up.

Like a gust of wind or a raindrop, large crowds and loud environments can quickly diffuse our light, and it will take some time for the smoke to clear and for the wax to set before we can be reignited. We are safe and sheltered indoors, but don’t hesitate to take us out on a calmer day when we’re ready.

Especially when food is involved. I am easily enticed by snacks.

Some of us are just like votive candles.

Yes, like a votive candle, we are great to come to if you need a listening ear.

This doesn’t make us wallflowers though, we (duh) still have opinions and passions, but we just like to listen to yours more than talk about our own.

I can honestly say that I hugely enjoy quietly sipping on my Merlot whilst listening to you talk about your Friday night endeavours as, meanwhile, I was catching up on Planet Earth II.

It’s honestly not that we don’t have any of our own input but it’s just easier for us to sit back and let you speak. Besides, we enjoy listening and it takes the pressure off of us, meaning we can socialise for longer. Think Nora from OITNB; we are silently healing you.

We’re lanterns, not bonfires.

Most of the time, it doesn’t come to being stuck-up, anxious, sad, shy, rude or antisocial; we’re just comfortable inside (literally and figuratively). We can be just as bright and bring just as much warmth as anyone else, but our flame is stronger by ourselves.

However, despite all of this “introverts and extroverts” talk, we’re all still pretty much the same and there’s no “us” and “them”.


I’ve never met a single person who has made me feel alienated for wanting to cosy up with  a coffee and my boy, Poe, rather than go to an event because they know that’s just what I’m into.

Most importantly, we are not lonely.

Just like a campfire, sometimes tending to it to much and feeding the flame too often can make us retreat further- we just need space. Don’t be frightened, upset, confused or concerned for us, but we gots’ta recharge, baby.

Now, down with this derivative platitude!

Okay, so cliches aside, what I’m trying to say is that we get our energy from being alone whereas some get their energy from others. This whole fire malarkey  was just my own mental image of how people like me look.

We introverts thrive off of being alone and use this time to be productive, creative, to unwind and to recharge. We are able to find comfort and happiness within our own company rather than seeking out the company of others, and so I guess that the main difference is just a case of independence. So, what have we learned?

We need to be alone to feel alive and comfortable.

We enjoy your company; we just don’t talk as much.

I get excited by tea and biscuits, not by loud music.

I will come to you, you don’t need to come to me.

But I’m not shutting you out, and the likelihood is that I have a lot of love for you, but just shhhhhh…

No talks.

Just hugs.


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