While many people celebrated Christmas this past weekend, I celebrated recharging.
No, it’s nothing to do with my car, or a sex toy (come on, admit it, you were thinking it), alas, nothing quite so titillating.
I’m an introvert; I was recharging my internal battery.
I used my three day weekend to relax, kill time on the Interwebs, watch movies and start mapping out my next cosplay. It was very energizing. Right now, I feel really, really good. And I get another three day weekend next weekend. Booya.
Why do I need these recharges in the first place? I won’t bore you with the gory details, but work has been nothing short of a nuclear stress ball the last few weeks. It’s been a lot of noise, a lot of interruptions, a lot of getting in my personal space and a lot of people interaction – WAY more than normal. My internal system overloaded.
That’s my introvert wiring at work.
Introverts make up 50 percent of the U.S. population, yet there’s a bias towards people who are outgoing – the extraverts. Who gets heard at work? The person who speaks up first (extravert), not the one formulating a thoughtful answer (introvert). It’s a challenge to not feel like an oddball in your own family, your circle of friends, your own culture. Companies spend more time teaching cultural sensitivity than learning how each person’s natural proclivity can be seen as a strength and used to the company’s, and that person’s, advantage.
Introversion isn’t a disease, personality disorder or shyness. On the surface, introversion does look like shyness. I understand why. Both limit social interaction, but a shy person wants to connect with others yet they find socializing difficult, whereas an introvert wants time alone. See the difference? Even a little?
Introverts aren’t angry or asocial, but we do have our comfort zones. There are a number of things introverts have heard – I know I have – that are quite frankly grating as hell and push our emotional buttons. I’d like to clarify a few the best I can.
Why don’t you like people?
When you hear the word introvert, do you automatically assume we don’t like people? You’d be very wrong. We do like people, we just like them in small doses – and we like other people in even smaller doses. We like socializing, but too much can leave us overwhelmed and even anxious. I’m not a joiner; I don’t meet new people nor make new friends easily. I’m most likely to stay under the radar. I will stand next to a wall or somewhere near a door to make a quick exit, if needed. I’m not shy, I’m reserved. If I’m at a party and I know very few people, it’s unlikely I’ll approach someone; instead, I’ll wait for someone to approach me.
Do You Have Friends?
Of course we do. We prefer a few close friends to a lot of acquaintances. And we may not even have that many close friends, but that’s our choice.
Reprimand Us Privately
If we did something wrong, talk to us privately. Nobody likes being reprimanded, but introverts especially don’t like being made the center of attention.
Give Us Notice About Any Changes
Have an introverted relative you want to visit? Let them know well in advance, don’t just show up on their doorstep. Let them know ahead of time so they can plan appropriate downtime for themselves. We need downtime; unplanned guests rob us of precious recharge time.
Don’t Expect An Immediate Answer
Don’t expect any immediate answers from an introvert. Just don’t. We’re listeners. We think before speaking. We need time to process what’s been said, and we aren’t going to give an answer until our thoughts are properly formed. The positive side of this is an introvert may take a while to put their thoughts together, but they don’t stick their foot in their mouths either.
On the flip side, don't interrupt if an introvert does get to talking. Listen. It takes us a while to formulate a thought – and sometimes the courage to speak up and share it. If an introvert is interrupted, it’s unlikely they will repeat themselves at the risk of being interrupted again, which can feel like a verbal slap on the hand.
And the biggie ….
Don’t Expect Us To Become Extraverts
I won’t speak for all introverts, but I hate being told I need to be more of an extravert. When I was growing up, my oldest brother used to tell me I needed to be more like so and so – who was outgoing. I had no idea I was an introvert back then, but I did believe I was less of a person for being the way I was.
Being an introvert is hard-wired into me as much as my eye color is, but there are days I hate it and wish I could change this part of me.
If I were an extravert, I could navigate work, social situations, life in general, a helluva lot easier than I can now and not have to justify who I am. I’m not shy, I’m not stuck up, I’m not antisocial. I listen. I observe. I’m reserved. And just because I’m not saying anything at the moment doesn’t mean I don’t have something to say in the future.
I’m not – and won’t ever be – an extravert. I know I have to make do with what I’ve got. And while being an introvert can be damn frustrating, I’m also learning to recognize and slowly appreciate the facets of who I am, one facet at a time, one day at a time.