I wanted to write out some things about being an introvert, something I’ve been thinking about lately.
I am a little amused by my own, different reactions to the most recent four weekends.
1. There was a weekend where I had nothing to do. I was sad and mopey about it.
2. Then came a weekend where I had obligations/events every evening (Fri., Sat., Sun.).
3. Then came a weekend with no specific “obligations,” but Joy came to visit so it was full of fun and feels and fangirling, and I did not have to be alone.
4. This weekend is like weekend 1, where my Saturday and Sunday are both completely empty. However, because of the activity of weekends 2 and 3, and this week being full of other social activities as well as less pleasant stressors, I couldn’t be happier about the lack of plans.
Such is the life of an introvert: I delight in spending time with the people I love and the friends I am close to. But no matter how much I enjoy it, it does not give me energy–it takes it. If I really like a person, their presence drains my energy more slowly, but it still drains. Eventually I hit a wall, where I cannot summon the strength, mentally or physically (but mostly mentally), to be around a lot of people/activity.
If I have a full tank of social energy, if I haven’t been around a lot of people lately and I am ready for activity, then a lack of plans makes me sad. When I need to refuel, as I do this weekend, a lack of plans is the sweetest relief, and I’m almost giddy.
The biggest problem I have with my own introversion is that it conflicts with my primary love language: Quality Time. I want to be around the people I love. I have to, or else I feel like I’m not loving them properly. If other people don’t want to be around me, that is the bloodiest wound you could deliver (even if that person is another introvert who needs to recharge—see what I mean about the conflict?). And yet, when I exercise that love language, it still drains my energy. I want to accept every invitation to every social event I am given because, in my mind, to turn it down means that I am telling the person “I don’t love/like/care about you,” even when nothing could be further from the truth. This is a big reason why, when I talk about a social event, I say “I have to go…” instead of “I get to go…”
I have to be truly desperate to turn down or cancel plans with a friend. So sometimes I attend more events than I have energy for (and by “events” I mean anything from a one-on-one coffee chat to a wedding) simply because, in my mind, it is an insult to the other person to say no. And if I don’t have sufficient energy for it and I go anyway, often that will make me miserable, even though I was trying to be loving to someone the whole time. I’m not trying to sound like a martyr. I’m just saying “This is how I am and it’s a pain in the ass and I’m still trying to figure out how to work with it.” I need to work for a better balance, and to feel less guilty about saying no to things.
To use melodramatic-but-honest terms: If I come to your birthday party, wedding, company picnic, or baby shower and I am quiet the whole time and/or I leave soon after, it means that I used the last of my strength to tell you I love you.
. . .
(EDIT: I don’t know who shared this post on the “Introverts Are Awesome” Facebook page, but THANK YOU. I woke up to the most hits this blog has ever gotten in a day, and I thought it was some kind of spamming mistake! WELCOME to everyone coming to this post from there—I appreciate you reading/commenting/sharing/relating to what I’ve written. Huzzah, we’re not alone!)
34 thoughts on “An Introvert’s Weekend”
So, um, I think we might be the same person.
I just took a peek at your blog, and … yes.
Hello, new friend.
(Totally not spoken in a creeper voice.)
So I was going to say in my last comment that we should probably be friends, but I was worried about my own creeper tendencies. Now that you’ve went ahead and broke the ice, we should probably just go for it, yeah?
I very much approve. :D
It’s really amazing to feel understood in this manner, everything you said makes me feel validated in how I interact with the world. Have you read ‘Quiet’?
I have not, but I plan to eventually. I’ve heard good things about it.
yeah it’s a good book to read, but sometimes she comes across as ‘anti-extrovert’ – I found her sometimes too black and white. The attitude you describe in your post is much more nuanced, and true to life I think. Thanks for speaking about feeling like you ‘have’ to go to things – I have a lot of guilt about that sometimes.
Indeed, there’s a lot of anti-extrovert attitude in these types of discussions, and I try to avoid getting caught up in that because some of the most loving and well-meaning people I know are massively extroverted.
I’m so glad you connected to the post, and I appreciate the comments!
Yeah, well, you should know I appreciate your point of view – especially on adulthood and being extroverted and wanting to read at social gatherings. I may be married, but I’m writing my masters dissertation on a theological defense of whimsy in Peter Pan, so I often have a hard time finding things to talk about that people take seriously. :) Weird place to say it I know, but you’re not on your own in that area.
I’m SO glad to know that! And I have to say, I think that’s a fabulous dissertation topic.
Thanks! My supervisor was skeptical to begin with, but now he says he likes the academic ‘audacity’ of writing about Peter Pan. Apparently only some types of children’s lit are academically recommended. :)
Your words could very easily be my words. We come from the same place.:) I always want the special people in my world to feel loved and heard but I don’t always have the energy to support them. It’s especially difficult when a few of those people are your children. Much much guilt. I just do my best and concentrate on conserving my energy for meaningful purposes. I also pay close attention to where or with whom my energy peaks so that I can recharge as needed. Often I have to recharge in solitude.
I am sitting at home alone tonight, reading your blog, eating sunchips and loving it. Thanks for your fun resonating writing.
P.S. I am also not anti-extrovert. Everyone is somewhere on the spectrum of introvert/extrovert. Very few are extremely one or the other.
Thank you so much!
I don’t have kids myself, but someday I might, and being introverted is one of the things that terrifies me about the prospect. Reading your blog has given me hope.
First and foremost, really enjoyed this blog (referred by Introverts are Awesome group on FB)!
I have to say, brennagee, I know the feeling. I love one-on-ones with loved ones, but being with my child sometimes is sometimes awkward. Sometimes I do want to just come home and meditate after a long, draining business day but instead I’m scraping up what I can and giving it to my 6yo. There is definite guilt in that. Once she goes to bed, all I can do is go to sleep even if my mind wants to read a book. She’s on the Autism spectrum so she does spend a fair amount of time playing alone and repeating scripts of movies, tv and songs in her head. Sometimes that feels good because she’s entertaining herself, yet the other side of me says I need to engage because I want to show her I love being with her AND because I want to help break away from her scripted trance. I’m not a parent into shaving my kid into activities for the sake of having them involved in that stuff, but sometimes I want her to explore her world to find what she likes best. It’s enough to drive me crazy thinking what is best for us.
I understand everything you said. My mind and body get so exhausted from the mental processing of all of life’s responsibilities and relationships. I want to dedicate my energy first and foremost to the key relationships in my life but since I don’t recharge while I’m with them I also need to dedicate time to solitude or very selective one on one time. The balancing is a constant challenge. I sacrifice as much as I can but at some point I have to save myself from drowning. Very difficult to admit…
My children are involved in activities (minimally, because I don’t believe in overscheduling) but often that just creates hectic driving schedules and chopped up evenings.
Aaaah…..sigh….relief…..there are more “just like me”! I enjoyed reading your blog. And I just ordered ‘Quiet’ so perhaps….this weekend…if I have enough energy left, I might read a bit.
another kindred spirit here. and i just want to say: please, em – always be true to your own needs first. i know it sounds selfish and unloving, but i now understand it isn’t. hard lesson learned. as someone who has *always* over-ridden her own needs in order to give to others, i now find myself dealing with a life-threatening illness, and no surprise, since i never left my own body enough energy to mount a good defense against all the stresses of this world. as a nurse, performer, or even a friend/partner, i never kept enough for myself. now i have to dig deep, truly accept my mistake, and most importantly CHANGE, if i’m to have any chance of saving my own life. honour yourself as you do others, em, and do it *first*. be well, and all good things to you. x r
Hello new friend! Introversion is suddenly trendy, just when my social tanks are totally dry too. Ah well, I am in recovery-and struggling with how to make my anti-social tendencies less present-difficult after years of crises and social service intrusions, trying to be team member in the work place, and having lots of abuse related issues build up in compartments that had see through doors in my head-I have withdrawn to heal I tested out a 89% introverted-which is extreme-and succinctly told me I had lived outside my comfort zone, without recharge, and in shock for far too long. I have a hard time with guilt over abandoning my closest family and friends-but now I try to educate them-I am done acting like I am someone I am not. But, I am learning a lot about who I am-and finding others is confirmation that I am not alone, or freakishly abnormal. Thanks for sharing.
Your description of how weekend life rolls rang so true for me. And I have used my last bit of energy to love and support those in my life.
Yep, I’ve been thinking the same thing today. It’s been really busy lately, but this weekend work’s busy season is over, social life has taken a break, and husband and kids are away, I’m doing nothing but reading and editing all weekend–heaven! I’ll be up to socializing again another time.
Thanks for sharing my post! I have a lot of blog traffic suddenly coming my way. Introverts unite!! I appreciate your grace too,
I know I was a bit aggressive in my post and yours is the perfect balance.
I loved your post, and first read it at just the right time (a few weeks ago). I was struggling to accept myself as an introvert after reading a different blog that seemed to suggest it was “wrong” and against the commands of God to need alone time. So I found your so-called aggression to be a good balance with that!
As a fellow introvert with a quality time love language…I completely relate to this.
I can relate to practically every word in this post, and I completely understand how frustrating it is to have the conflict between quality time and introversion.
It felt like I was reading my life. I could totally relate to every word spoken in your post. I feel very drained after being in company for too long. I long for that time out and to have that solitude and space to myself to regain energy and be by myself. I find it hard to get that balance happening in my life sometimes. It can be frustrating at times but I love being me and love that I can be comfortable in my own company and enjoy being on my own opposed to being an extrovert needing people around me constantly. I couldn’t think of anything worse.
Perfect. I’m having a recharge weekend right now. It’s guilt free and much needed because work has been hectic and no one has invited us anywhere.
So what advice would you give to an ambivert mum (in the middle of the extrovert/introvert spectrum) who has an 11 y.o. introvert son who loves quality time. I can’t guess when he wants time with me and when he doesn’t. He’s apt to explode if he doesn’t and I give it.
I would suggest maybe to ask him if he does want quality time? Maybe think of some possible quality-time activities and ask if he’s interested in any of them (possibly scheduling them ahead of time so he is forewarned). Make it clear that he’s free to turn them down. Other than that, I’m not sure.
Thank you for this honest and heartfelt admission! It describes perfectly what I’ve uncounsciously experienced my entire life. Every time I read something that resonates with my personal experience, I am grateful for feeling just that much more “normalized”. :) have a great day!!!!
I just found you today! Thank you for the happy feels. :)
Thank you for posting this. I feel very much the same way and I am going to have to share this with my very extroverted sister. She doesn’t quite get the introverted personality and doesn’t understand me wanting time alone after being out and about or busy for an extended period of time.
I am so excited that you are able to put in words what I we all introverts are feeling. My husband and his family just threw me a surprise 40th party. I was mortified, and couldn’t bring myself to even go inside. I drove home crying. Embarrassed by my actions, horrified that they thought that was OK for me. I love this site, makes me feel better. Thank you
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