Keep It On The Up10:30 AM
"You're an introvert?!" When people say this to me, it sounds exactly like Dudley Moore in Arthur, "You're a hooker?!"
There are some common misconceptions about introverts: we don't sit in our rooms hiding from people all day, we have friends, and we like to do things. We can even be outgoing, usually only at that ONE thing that we are good at, but still. I am thankful that most of my close friends are also introverts, and therefore understand when I have to back out of plans, or when I get cranky from not having enough alone time. Introverts also do not hate extroverts, in fact, I am married to one. Kyle has also come to understand, over time, how I operate. On the other hand, my extrovert friends can get frustrated with me, I can get exhausted by them.
Things to remember about introverts:
We don't like attention/a lot of attention on ourselves. Case in point: When I graduated from Oakland University, ask my friend Becky. I was a mess. She basically had to hold my hand until I got where I needed to go and calmed me down. Another fine example: My wedding. I was very grateful for my dad wearing a monkey mask (we call him Sasquatch), as I was very nervous about everyone looking at me. I honestly don't think I fully relaxed until after our first dance as a married couple, and our friends all started dancing.
Why does this come as a surprise to people? Because I can be loud, but only in a group of friends that I am comfortable with. Because I have a blog where I post pictures of myself/talk about my life everyday, but the key is: I can't see any of you. Because I can sing karaoke in bar packed full of people: Liquid Courage my friend! Seriously, one of the best ways for me to calm the hell down is to get a drink in me. I become less quiet/nervous and relax a little.
We need time to recharge: I am not sure what the case is with most introverts, but it is a constant struggle for me to decide what to do when friends/family want to get together. Some days at work can be a blessing because I rarely talk to/see anyone. Other days people are constantly in our office asking for things/needing help. I also babysit my younger brother Liam 2-3 days a week, and he is sometimes over until 8-8:30 pm, so I tend to get peopled out really fast. I don't like doing a lot of things on weeknights because of this, and I need those few hours at night to recharge for the next day, to do it all over again. Usually Kyle and I will plan something for during the week, like trivia night, so we can see those friends who have to work weekends. This helps because when I know about it ahead of time, I can mentally prepare myself to be around other people and not be so cranky. Weekends can still be a struggle, because I usually want to see people, but sometimes I am just not up for it. It can be hard when friends live a little further away and need to stay over when they visit, or if we go out drinking and they need to stay over. I never want people to drink and drive, but at the same time I get overwhelmed because I feel the need to be "On" the entire time people are there. So again, planning things out in advance helps, so that I can usually have some alone time for a few hours before people come over.
Alone time can vary: When I need time to recharge, it is not always holing up in my room with the phone shut off, hiding from the world. Sometimes it is just reading a book for an hour or so, or watching TV alone. A lot of times I just really want to go for a walk. Sometimes it is just running some errands by myself, it really can vary. Also, again, I married an extrovert. There have been nights where I will just ask Kyle to go catch up on his favorite TV shows while I dye my hair and read, space without actually having to kick Kyle out of the house (which, in all fairness I have done that too).
Internet friends are real friends: This one is always a controversial one. I really, really like social media and text messaging people. I really, really, hate talking on the phone unless it is for something really quick. Why? Because I can text friends all day, but in between doing other things. It seems easier to me to shoot out a text really quick before making dinner, checking it again after and then responding, then say to talk while cooking dinner. I also despise talking while driving in the car, or when I am out walking my dog, because those are my recharging moments. I can scroll through my twitter feed and see what people are up too, and then shoot them a BS tweets back-and-forth and not have to deal with those awkward pauses on the phone. It is a good way to keep in touch without completely exhausting myself by always being "On".
Usually, nothing is wrong when we are quiet/looking cranky: One of the worst things you can do is ask "What's wrong? You're being quiet!" when an introvert is doing so. It is most likely that they are in great need of recharging, so nothing is really wrong but it is rude to just come out and say: "Hey I am tired of being around people, I need to go.". Especially if you are at work or somewhere that just going home is not really an option. Another example is if your friend who is normally loud/talkative around your close group is suddenly quiet around your new friends does not mean that they are not having a good time, or that they don't like your friends. They are introverts and out of their comfort zone, so it will take awhile for them to come around. By asking those things, you are drawing attention to them, which will probably make them panic.
So there you have it, a little bit of why your introvert friends act the way they do and how to handle it. Just remember: your introvert friends don't cancel plans because they are tired of you/don't want to see you. They probably feel very guilty by saying 'no', but know that if they do end up spending time with you that they will cranky and not being a nice friend. I honestly commend those people who are introverts who work 40 hours a week, then come home to kids and not drive themselves crazy. Because I know for a fact that I drive Kyle insane on a regular basis. So thank you extroverts who have to deal with us and know how to, you are the best!