I am currently a rising junior at Brandeis University, a small liberal arts college that welcomes people like me (people who are categorized as “socially awkward”) with open arms. Introversion has always been discouraged in society. I’ve learned this my whole life. I was bullied in school for being too shy. But finally in high school, I was able to find power within myself and find a voice for myself when I took a creative writing class for the first time. Ever since then, I have dedicated myself to poetry and writing, mostly about issues like oppressions that plague society. Through this, I have been able to reflect upon the fact that introversion is actually a beautiful thing where I can bask in solitude and create an optimal environment whereby I can write and think for myself. Below is a poem that I wrote about solitude and the ways in which people misinterpret my introversion:

“On Solitude”

I envy Stephen Dunn’s
freedom, his ability
to casually speak
long distance
to himself.
Please Understand,

I’ve wanted to obtain that
silence since I was young.
But with a girl’s desires
seen as desperate and my
quiet nature as an introvert
consistently discouraged, it
didn’t matter how many times
I repeated: “Mommy, look,
I found solitude!”

it didn’t matter if solitude huddled
inside my chest while I dug sand
tunnels for hours by myself, or if
I unearthed it inside the spiral
architecture of a corkscrew shell
the size of my six-year-old head;
my painstaking privacy was always
devalued:

when I let my brother borrow
the treasured conch so he could
hold comfort in his hands as he
slept that night (a substitute for
his lost stuffed animal), it would
be the last time I ever saw it.

Concerned with the excessive
amount of time I spent mourning
the loss of an inanimate object
(more worried, however, with
the excessive amount of time
I spent with myself), my mom
suggested I make more friends.

But I was “the lost girl” in school,
my teacher told my mother, after
the first time I started public school,
in the first grade, where I spent a lot
of time daydreaming in class and in
the bathroom for the rest of the day.
The temporary separation was never
enough—I still missed silence.

I finally reclaimed solitude
when I discovered poetry.
Solitude, the state of being
alone without being lonely,
misunderstood by so many
people, the same way people
have always misjudged me.

Naturally, we became best friends,
companions who sit side by side
at a café, people-watch in pleasure,
and sip the bitter out of coffee long
enough for it turn sweet.