Being an Introvert

I am an introvert. 

Now, when this word comes to mind, many automatically think of someone who is shy, meek, or quiet. I’m sorry to say that, although many introverts may happen to have these characteristics, that is not the definition of what an introvert is. Introverts are simply people who obtain their energy from being alone, rather than with people, unlike extroverts. Introverts are not always shy, however. I’d like to make that clear, despite the irony in the fact that I, an introvert, very much so identify as a shy individual until I feel comfortable with someone. Once I do feel comfortable, however, I am an incredibly talkative person and can easily spend hours discussing things from every which subject. That being said, although I do enjoy having good conversations and spending time  with friends and family like any other person, at the end, I usually will feel drained and exhausted.

That’s my introverted side. The desire to be alone, especially after a long duration of socialization– not the trait of shyness. This is because socializing, especially in large groups or in loud settings, can be overstimulating all at once, and for the introvert, the way that they can revert back to base one is by being alone, away from all of the hustle and bustle. 

So yes, contrary to popular belief, introverts do in fact like going out (on occasion).

Being an introvert does not mean you want to be alone twenty four hours of the day, seven days a week. It just means if you had to, you probably could without losing your mind. And yes, while humans are naturally social with one another, sometimes, being around other humans can be mentally exhausting, even if for reasons you can’t quite put your finger on. Thus is the nature and life of an introvert.

A key point about introverts is that, when it comes to people, wanting to be away from them is honestly not personal in the slightest, nor does it signify that we dislike most people. In fact, you can love the person you’re being around and still feel exhausted after spending a long period of time with them.

For introverts, not wanting to be around other people, especially loved ones, should not be taken as a personal offense. It just means we need some time, alone and only alone, to clear our heads. Simply put, being in the presence of another person hinders us from achieving this. Introverts will simply just continue to nosedive in energy and dwindle in liveliness the longer that they are forced to stay out and about and with others. It sounds stupid, maybe, or even a bit stuck-up. But, I promise you, introverts don’t mean to be rude. They don’t hate people. But they’ll be in much better spirits if you just leave them be for a few hours when they ask to be left alone. 

All this being said, many people don’t really know if they are introverted. 

Here’s a few questions to ask yourself and think about. 

Do you thrive off of time spent alone? Find inspiration and motivation coming to you when you are alone? Wish you had more time to yourself? Feel up for doing a social activity or attending a social gathering after you’ve already spent a good portion of time alone? And, if you go out or spend time with others, upon your return, do you usually notice that you feel drained? By drained, I mean, do you often notice you feel tired? Irritable? Scouting for a place to be that is quiet? Not in any mood to talk? With a headache, maybe? If so, you are most likely an introvert.

Welcome to the club of “I-Often-Need-Time-To-Myself-Please-Leave-Me-Alone-Thank-You”.   

I know some might consider it to be awfully selfish to “need” down-time. Such a first-world problem, one might scoff. But then again, when it comes to being an extrovert, I can’t possibly begin to see how someone could get need to get their energy and their mood up from constantly being in the companionship of others. To me, this is a bizarre concept to imagine being my reality. But, see, that’s why everyone’s different. Some of us are introverts, some of us are extroverts. And some of us are stuck somewhere in the middle: ambiverts, as the term has been coined. 

With all of this being said, never feel bad if you are in fact a quieter soul; an introvert in a world that seems to cater only to extroverts. Never feel that craving time to yourself and silence is a bad thing. After all, everyone’s always preaching about how good it is to begin your day in silent meditation or to have some sort of ritual where you are alone. Many have only just begun to discover the joys that come along with being alone, and the hidden wisdom’s behind it as well–something introverts have known all along. Because, truly, silence will always feed your soul thousand times more than noise.

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

This New York Times bestseller has quickly become, needless to say, a very popular book.  Murder mysteries themselves are a commonly-read, yet thrilling genre and this book falls into the category of the classic “who did it” scenario.

 One of Us Is Lying begins on a regular Monday at Bayview High School where five students are all in detention. However, what would have been a usually boring, uneventful detention session swiftly becomes a high-profile event, as one of the students, Simon, ends up dead. Though this student is known quite well, his reputation is not the best, to say the least, as Simon is known as someone who spreads rumors and secrets about people, often revealing extremely personal, uncomfortable truths.  It makes sense that many people would have a reason to dislike, or even hate him, but the real question is: does anyone truly want Simon  dead?  After all, other than his exposing, gossip-ridden app, he is an otherwise harmless teenager. That being said, if someone did want him dead, then that would mean that the most likely suspects were probably in the same room as where he took his last breaths. 

Interestingly enough, McManus switches the character point of view with almost every chapter, meaning you get an inside scope within the minds of each student. This makes it an enjoyable challenge for the reader to decipher clues as to who is guilty, because each person’s side of the story and perspective on the matter is different. None of them seem obviously malicious, though. So it’s left a guessing game until the end of the book. In my case, I was still debating between a few different characters until the end of the book when the answer was revealed to me, and I ended up being wrong entirely, which I think goes to show that McManus created the plot in such a way that it was hard to tell.

Is it Bronwyn, the smart, goody-two shoes girl with a perfect academic record? Is it Nate, the leather-jacket wearing drug dealer with a mysterious past? Is it Addy, the sweet, beautiful girl, famous for her long locks of hair? Or is it Cooper, the quiet baseball jock?

Read it and find out!

-Aisha E.

One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

I recently finished the newly-released prequel to the well-known Hunger Games series, written once again by author Suzanne Collins. I loved the original trilogy so much and consider them among my favorite books, so, as you can imagine, the idea of a prequel was very exciting. Originally, the Hunger Games series was set in a post-war, dystopian era in the country of Panem, and the setting in this book is no different, other than the fact that the events within it took place earlier in time. 

Panem is divided into twelve districts of people with the Capitol as the grand center and overarching control over all. The point of the Games is to allow each district to remember their overwhelming powerlessness against the Capitol, as every year two tributes from each district  between the ages of twelve and eighteen are reaped and then forced to fight to the death in a gruesome, twisted show of entertainment, similar to ancient gladiators, while the rest of the country watches them live on television. 

Now, contrary to popular belief, this book is neither about Haymitch or Finnick, who were both characters from the original trilogy who would have indeed had interesting backstories, but rather about another intriguing character: President Coriolanus Snow. Snow was never a central character in the original trilogy, so we know little to nothing of his backstory and character, other than the fact that he is considered the trilogy’s corrupt villain, in the form of the cold, menacing leader of Panem. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes explores Coriolanus as to what he was like as an eighteen year old Capitol boy. From the very beginning, you can easily see how this young man will inevitably rise to power. 

This book, though often going at a slow pace, gives you insight to what life was like before Katniss ever came into the picture, and before the Games were the lively, twisted events that they were, as Coriolanus is a mentor. Funny enough, Coriolanus ended up being the mentor of the girl tribute of District Twelve, Lucy Gray. This was much to Coriolanus’s dismay, as being part of the Snow family entails a sense of superiority and importance, and being given a tribute from poor and lowly associated District Twelve is nothing short of a slap in the face for him. 

The concepts this book presents are interesting, the plot featuring many twists and turns, and there many notable characters throughout the story.  You never quite know what will happen on the other side of the page. The story unfolds slowly, but with very sharp bumps in the road. I highly recommend this book, especially if you enjoyed the other three installments of the series.

-Aisha E.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Summer Book and Movie Recommendations

As an avid reader, I’m always looking for new books to read. Here is a list of books, many of which I consider my all-time favorites, but some are simply ones that enjoyed and would recommend to anyone in search of a good read:

  1. The Harry Potter Series, by J.K. Rowling
  2. The Hunger Games Series (and its newly-released prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes) by Suzanne Collins
  3. When, by Victoria Laurie
  4. Dessert First, by Dean Gloster
  5. Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor E. Frankl
  6. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
  7. The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  8. The Raft, by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen
  9. If I Should Speak, by Umm Zakiyyah
  10. Night, by Ellie Weisel

As for a few movie recommendations, I once again have to include Harry Potter and Hunger Games! But I’ll also be adding others, once again, either more of my all-time favorites or just all-around good movies.

  1. The Harry Potter Series
  2. Pride and Prejudice
  3. The Aeronauts
  4. The Hunger Games Series
  5. The Lord of the Rings series
  6. The Rise of Skywalker
  7. Inception
  8. Little Women
  9. Interstellar
  10. Collateral Beauty

Quarantine Recipe: Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

Because the majority of us have been staying home with lots of time on our hands, especially as it’s the middle of  Summer, I thought I’d share how to make a fun homemade treat which only uses only a couple of ingredients. Homemade peanut butter cups may sound like too much work, but it’s actually quite an easy recipe and yields good results.

What You’ll Need:

Measuring cups

Saucepan or microwave-safe glass bowl

Tablespoon

Two muffin tins

Muffin liners

Ingredients: 

-2 Cups Chocolate Chips (I used semi-sweet, but you can use milk chocolate or dark if you prefer)

-½ Cup peanut butter

– 2 tablespoons coconut oil–optional 

Directions:

  1. Measure  the chocolate chips and melt them, either over the stove in a saucepan or in the microwave in a microwave-safe dish.  Also, a quick tip–I’ve heard that adding a few tablespoons of  coconut oil to your chocolate helps it melt into a smoother consistency, so you can add some to your chocolate if you’d like.
  1. While waiting for the chocolate to melt, line your muffin tins with muffin liners. Once the chocolate is evenly melted, begin spooning about a tablespoon of chocolate per muffin liner, or as much is needed to ensure that the bottom of the wrapper is covered entirely and evenly.
  1. Now, measure the peanut butter and place it in a bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds. Afterward, stir it gently and begin spooning about a tablespoon into each of your individual muffin liners. (This part can be a little messy, and I learned the hard way! I’d recommend putting your muffin tins with just the chocolate in the freezer until it hardens, that way when you’re ready to add the melted peanut butter, you’ll have a much easier time doing so.)
  1. Using the rest of your melted chocolate, spoon some chocolate on top of the peanut butter, enough until it fully covers the peanut butter beneath it; approximately one to two tablespoons. 
  1. Place the muffin tins in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour, or until they are fully hardened. Once hardened, take them out and allow them to reach room temperature before serving. Enjoy:)

Dessert First by Dean Gloster

The book Dessert First by Dean Gloster can be summed up in one word: beautiful. The story is about a teenage girl, Kat, who is struggling to hold everything together after her little brother Beep relapses with leukemia. With her father being distant and constantly at work, her mother uptight due to her anxiety, and her older sister’s rude remarks, Kat turns to online friends for support. And between all of this, she struggles to complete homework assignments and with her feelings towards her old best friend, who she feels betrayed by.

This book is truly something special which would make me laugh aloud, yet also induce tears. With her witty and sarcastic sense of humor and the sadness that plagues her, Kat seemed to spring out of the pages as a real person. The book very much regarded her journey, through her pain and the feelings that came with it–confusion, anger, sadness, hope, and love.

Eventually, Kat was able to find the silver lining. And as her brother Beep had said to her “Always eat dessert first”, as in to live life to the fullest, and to remember that even after the worst of times, life can be good again.

-Aisha E. 

Dessert First by Dean Glosteris available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Night by Elie Wiesel

The book Night by Elie Wiesel is an inside look at the holocaust through the eyes of a young Jewish boy. It is the real story of the author, which is why it is so astounding. I believe that his purpose for writing it was to shed light on how devastating the holocaust was, the concentration camps, and what it means to be broken as an individual. It is filled with so much pain and suffering, and yet that was what made it undeniably real. His life during this period of time was so horrible that he longed for death as opposed to the darkness of the world around him.

Without the basic human needs for food, water, shelter, and warmth, the spirit begins to weaken. This caused him to be angry at God and his initial strong beliefs to falter, which was heartbreaking, as now, without his family or religion, he was utterly and completely alone.

Though the book could be dark and upsetting due to its raw storyline, it was also very eye-opening for me, as I learned many new things about the holocaust and also perceived it through the eyes of a young boy. Although he endured the worst struggle of his life during that time and lost the ones he loved most, him telling his story can be an inspiration for people to never give up.

-Aisha E.

Night by Elie Wiesel is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

When by Victoria Laurie

Everyone knows that they will one day die, and yet we live our lives trying our best to ignore it, as death is a dark subject for most. However, the main character Maddie in the book When by Victoria Laurie, has no choice but to see death everywhere she goes. The death date of every person she sees is imprinted upon their forehead.  Living alone with her mother, money is tight, and so her mother arranged for her to earn money by telling clients who come to their home their death date.

One day a client comes in and Maddie informs her that her son’s death date is next week. Shocked and confused( as the woman had initially come in regarding the death date of her daughter who had leukemia) she leaves angrily. Of course, the woman’s son ends up dead upon the very date that Maddie predicted. After this, the FBI begins to suspect Maddie as well as her best friend Stubby for murdering the child. The book is a thrilling mystery that I enjoyed immensely, and it is the kind of book that kept me up late reading, anticipating what would happen next. 

Buried beneath the fast-paced storyline, however, is the question to the reader of what you would do if you knew the day you would die. It was something fascinating to ponder as I read, and even one of the characters in the book whom Maddie had told his death date to had turned his life around due to that. He wanted to make sure his family was supported financially and knew they were loved, as well as enjoy the last years of his life. And the meaning I found within the book as well was that death is not something to try to run away from, but rather something to remember every once in a while, to put everything into perspective and allow you to live life beautifully.

~Aisha E.

When by Victoria Laurie is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library