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Tapping into Reserves

November 22, 2013

Embracing my introverted personality isn’t always easy. Frankly a lot of the time it sucks. Being misunderstood, getting called grumpy and being told I just need to get out more definitely rank up there “with things people say that annoy the living stuffing out of me.”

I get it, I do. When the constant message we are fed is that the extroverted personality is the end all be all, it can be difficult to consider that isn’t the ideal for everyone. Most of my life I struggled to fit in with the “normal” set up. I would force myself to go out with friends, I would struggle to make small talk with people and I would attempt to talk a lot during class. I had a professor even comment on this once, asking me if there was ever a thought I didn’t express, when I emphatically stated that  there was a whole slew of them, the response was profound disbelief.

The fact that I forced myself to talk so much often led me to being seen as snobbish (because by the middle/end of class) I didn’t have much energy to engage anymore. I would be so exhausted being in the same room and engaging with numerous people,  I would be ready for some down time, but thanks to the fun schedule I faced I was often forced to tap into that reserved energy.

It was almost like a back up battery, I could use up some of those reserves but as a result it often took longer to get back up to full speed. I’m not ashamed to say it’s taken me a while to realize this. During my time in high school and college I definitely struggled with the whole being “on” a lot of the time. I had numerous roommates throughout my time in college and so solace was not easily gained.

Maybe part of it stems from growing up with limited contact with people, which seems slightly ironic considering there were seven people living in my house. Growing up I often sought the solitude of my own room. I would spend the majority of my time up there, hidden away.I had friends, and I did interact with my family but it was never to the degree that was satisfactory. Back then, the moodiness of being a teen often overwhelmed the rational part of my brain and when I should have taken a cue and made my exit, I often tried to force (whether by my choice or not) my way through. This resulted in more than a few different arguments devolving into shouting matches as that reserve depleted and I craved escape. Solitude gained in almost anyway possible helped develop my night owl tendencies. As the house began to wind down later and later my efforts to reclaim that sweet quiet pushed me further and further to the rising dawn. I can remember on more than a few occasions staying up until after the sunrise, relishing in the quiet. My childhood wasn’t easy (so few really are) and as my teen years progressed I slowly fought that internal desire to retreat. Life spent in the company of others is a challenge even for the most extroverted people (I am sure.)

At the end of the day I still sometimes find myself tapping into those reserves. I think it has gotten to the point where my husband notices when my “introvert battery” is running low, and while I feel bad, I do still have to sometimes hide out in the bedroom alone.

As we gear up for a major family holiday (in the US) I am attempting to find ways to manage that need for solace with the need to be with family.School has left me more than a little worn out, (why is that almost everyone seems to be focused on group work all of a sudden?!?) This will mark the first year I spend with my extended family, after having acknowledged and accepted the introvert in me. Perhaps this acceptance will help me understand when I hit that reserve button, perhaps the ability to have my spouse who can help watch out for the warning signs will help. Acknowledgement of my introversion doesn’t mean I will wave the banner and proclaim to everyone I see that I am this way so deal with it, but it does mean that when I am feel more than a little over taxed I may avoid the uncle who never has a kind word for anyone (lest he and I get into it again.) It may mean I hide out in a small corner, bringing my knitting as an unofficial shield to mark against the potential onslaught. Or it may just mean I hang out in the car for a little bit before heading back in, if nothing else I can just claim I am recharging my battery (phone or otherwise.)

 

 

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From → Fiber Arts, Musings

12 Comments
  1. Tara permalink

    Wow, reading this was like you had popped into my head!

  2. slippedstitches permalink

    I am an introvert too. I despise the holiday season. However, I have found ways to get through it without too much upset on their side or mine. Let your husband know you are slipping out for a walk. Fresh air and gentle movement tends to help bring my stress level down while increasing the stamina I need to get through the rest of the visit. Sitting in a car for me just means I’ve traded one jail cell for another. On that walk find a place of interest, park, stream, somewhere you can relax and practice deep breathing. Don’t leave there until you feel relaxed. When you arrive back at the homestead avoid going in the door that will bring you face to face with the most people all at once. If possible use the back or side door. Take a moment to settle yourself before facing the onslaught. Retreating to the bedroom or some quiet area for a little knitting is perfectly acceptable. You are not their source of entertainment or their host. As a guest, you can take a rest. The success of the gathering doesn’t depend on you being present at all times. Knitting in the presence of others is totally acceptable. As you said, it helps us refrain from responding to the idiot who is talking trash. Concentrating on my stitches is a great way to let things just roll off my back. Ultimately remember that this too shall pass. It does have and end.

  3. I can show you good “get away” spots at Turkey Bingo on Sunday if you start getting burned out and need to take a break from the crowd.

    Is it wrong that I’m sad you’re going to your family’s Thanksgiving this year and won’t be at mine?

  4. I want to send this to everyone I know. it describes being an introvert so well! http://iwastesomuchtime.com/on/?i=63454

  5. shellssells permalink

    With all the newer research about introversion and the fact that group projects are Very Bad for introverts, and not all that helpful in general, I am surprised that teachers still embrace them so much. I guess change is hard, but I do hope it is a change that gets made at some point.

    • I know, but it seems as though there is a greater emphasis now (at least that I am noticing this time around, school wise.)

    • caityrosey permalink

      I don’t know. I think it’s important to learn to work well with others, whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert. You don’t have to like it (I certainly didn’t, a lot of the time). But I’m really glad I got to practice doing it in school. If my first experience with group work had been in the workplace (where knowing how to work as part of a group or team is an expected skill) it would have been a very bad thing.

  6. doctordana permalink

    I am fortunate in that my husband and most of my coworkers are also introverts, but holidays are really tough because my entire family is nothing but extroverts! My husband and I definitely look out for one another at social events; we can usually tell when the other is about done with whatever they’re doing and looking for escape, and we try to offer it to each other. That usually works pretty well for most things, as one person gets a chance to recharge a bit while the other “handles” the event.

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