13 Ways of Looking Like an Introvert

13 Ways of Looking Like an Introvert

13 Ways of Looking Like an Introvert 150 150 Nathaniel Lee Hansen


You’re an only child. You’ve loved to read ever since you can remember. You’ve daydreamed and pondered ever since you can remember. Your teachers in elementary and high school had to tell you to stop staring out the window. You still enjoy staring out windows.


“Larger” social situations have always made you squirm and wriggle. By “large” you mean, say, more than five or six people.


Because you’re a college English professor, much of your work time (that doesn’t involve the teaching of classes and the holding of office hours) consists of a lot of paper, whether from your students or from a textbook or assigned reading. An introvert’s dream job? Or at least one of them. You have flexibility in where you can complete those aspects of your job.

Your favorite location to work (with the exception of a weekly coffee-shop visit)? At home, by yourself.


Your ideal gathering is four people, perhaps you, your wife, your son, and your daughter. Or, perhaps you, your wife, and another couple. That’s doable. It feels shameful, yet freeing, to write those sentences.


When you were in your MFA program, you were terrified of social gatherings. After evening workshops when everyone in class went to a bar or restaurant afterwards, you went home. People would ask you to go along, but you pleaded fatigue (mostly true) or an early morning the next day. The few times you did go, you did enjoy yourself, but you were removed from your element.

You think of those fellow writers scattered across the country now, and you wish you had assembled the courage to be more social. So many relationships you missed out on.


You married a fellow introvert. Of course not every introvert chooses a fellow introvert, but you’re both fine with it. Sometimes you even tell each other that.


You don’t mind silence at all.

You like the subtle noises of your house or your office when no one is present.

You like the clock ticking above the mantle or the clock ticking on your office wall.


You love your job as a professor and can do it well enough, but when you’ve just finished teaching a class, all you want is space for solitude so that you can be refreshed, can be rejuvenated.


You went to a retreat back in October with a dozen-plus writers. The second night, you turned in early, unable to handle the number of people. Not that you don’t like them, you do. But you found it hard to say, “hey, I need to be by myself, now, no offense,” so you vanished.


How are you going to handle heaven? People from every nation, tongue, and tribe? Maybe that’s why the notion of heaven is overwhelming and intimidating to you.


You realize that despite your attempts to sound otherwise, you are coming across as some kind of misanthrope.


If you go four, five, six hours without talking to someone, you don’t come undone at all. [See first sentence of XI.]


You sigh in the stillness of your living room, your kids tucked in bed, the crickets of their noise machines traveling into the living room where you relax on the couch drafting this list.

Nathaniel Lee Hansen

I’m a poet, fiction writer, and essayist. My chapbook, Four Seasons West of the 95th Meridian, was published by Spoon River Poetry Press (2014). My work has appeared in Christianity and Literature, Prairie Gold: An Anthology of the American Heartland, Blast Furnace, Driftwood Press, Whitefish Review, The Cresset, Midwestern Gothic, and South Dakota Review, among others. I currently serve as an assistant professor of English & Creative Writing at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas. I also edit Windhover: A Journal of Christian Literature and direct the annual Windhover Writers’ Festival. When not writing or teaching, I run, read, play piano, listen to music, and play disc golf. My greatest joys are my wife, my son, and my daughter. I was born in southern Minnesota, but while growing up, I had little interest in the Plains and opens spaces. A stint at a rural state liberal arts college in southwestern Minnesota, as well as grad-school stints in northwestern Minnesota and southeastern South Dakota, altered my interests. @plainswriter, plainswriter.com, & www.facebook.com/plainswriter

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