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!)