I've been hearing a lot about introverts lately. I get it, introverts have been feeling the strain for years. They feel as though they are expected to be something they're not, that it's an extrovert's world, and now with the rise in popularity of the geek and so much of our lives being done in the relative safety of Facebook, they feel as if they are finally given a voice.
And that's awesome. Anytime anyone can be their authentic self (without actively harming others) is great. Anytime someone can be heard (and they are speaking our of love or desire for understanding) is great. Most of my friends are introverts, and I love being able to understand how to better care for them. But, as the token extrovert, here's what extroverts want you to know:
It's not all sunshine and roses for us, either. Here's why:
1. People don't understand this is a need for us. When we ask you to come over, to go do something with us, to talk to us on the phone, it isn't always just casual. Just as you need time without people to recharge. We need quality time with people to recharge. So, when we are rejected, it can be difficult. It hurts. When it happens consistently, it hurts more than just a casual "I don't want to" or "I don't have time." Because what it means is "I don't understand or care about your needs enough to step outside of my comfort zone to help you refuel." Too much time without people makes us feel claustrophobic, a little twitchy. This is what we need to feel the most healthy.
2. It's hard to balance our extroversion with our duties. It really is a golden balance. I have to clean my house. I have to educate my kids. I have to run the publishing house. All of these things require quiet time at home. However, too much of that, and I lose the focus to do those things. Working quietly with others is optimal, but even then quietly means with music happening, chatting while we work, and a lot of introverts aren't able to function that way. And two extroverts together means very little work gets done. So it's a constant balancing act of keeping myself charged enough to function optiimally, but leaving time to function.
3. You feel like you are constantly told to change who you are. Yep, introverts don't have exclusive rights to that. "Why don't you just sit quietly and relax?" "You're too outgoing and it puts us off." "Wow, you spend more time out of your house than you do in it." "Can't you just dial things back a bit?" People don't realize that relaxation is different for us, and so to please them we do things that are antithetical to our extrovert nature, and then people don't understand why we are fidgety. We have to tone down our fire for the comfort of others. We have to be alone for a socially acceptable amount of hours. It gets exhausting. But because your need to refuel depends on other people, we have to be dependent on their understanding of our situation. As most people aren't, it can get a bit claustrophobic.
4. People suggest solitude and you want to die a little. "You've had a tough time, why don't you just take a little while to relax." Let me tell you, we need people, and energy, especially when we've had a rough time. Leave us in a quiet room when we are already emotionally strained and you'll have us clawing at the inside of our skulls. We will get mopey, lethargic. But all too often, well-meaning people give us our space in times of trial. I don't need space. I need people. I need energy. I need activity. I will come back better able to deal with things, if given those.
I love my introvert friends. They go out of their way to help me balance my needs. So, if any of you are reading this, please don't be offended. But I do get frustrated at the concept that societal pressures are exclusive to the introvert set. They aren't. They're just different, that's all. Now, if you'll excuse me, there's a whole wide world out there and I need to touch it all.