Introverts tend to get a bad rap. No, we are not ALL serial killers. Okay…known serial killers.
They have to catch you first 😀 .
Wait, where was I?
Oh, yeah. So, first of all, far too many people equate introversion with social anxiety, when those are two totally different topics. One can actually be an extrovert and suffer extreme social anxiety.
Really. Not kidding. He’s usually the sweet quiet guy in the corner of a dance club with an umbrella in his drink. Maybe no umbrella…but probably at least a flamingo swizzle stick. #TrueScienceIJustMadeUp
So this myth that introverts are all hermits huddled in caves eschewing any human contact, relishing in the day that they’re the only person left on the planet? Pure myth.
We only THOUGHT we wanted that until recently.
This myth goes along with the idea that we are freaks who live in our mom’s basement making lampshades out of Kirby Vacuum salespeople.
For the record, my mom didn’t have a basement. Basements freak me out, and I am not crafty enough to make lampshades out of…lampshades.
Other myths? That we can’t be the life of the party. Or that introverts are—by immediate definition—shy, reclusive, or anti-social. We aren’t, though we can be.
My parents actually spent most of my childhood stopping me from trying to go home with strangers and re-home myself.
Defining Introverts & Extroverts
First of all, the whole concept of extroverts and introverts has been around for over a hundred years. We can thank psychologist Carl Jung for popularizing the concept.
This, Kiddies, is where I want y’all to pay close attention. In 1921, Jung suggested the principal distinction between personalities had to do with the primary source and direction of an individual’s expression of energy. In lay terms?
How does yo’ battery work?
Large crowds and groups of people energizes the extrovert. Extroverts process externally. Left too long alone, the extrovert’s battery runs low. They require doses of people time to recharge.
Conversely, introverts require alone time. Crowds and groups of people deplete our batteries. I LOVE people. I’m the life of the party. But when I come home from conferences? I generally need to slip into something more comfortable…like a COMA.
Meet the Ambivert
Very few people are pure introverts or pure extroverts, and—to be blunt—you don’t really want to be. A pure introvert or extrovert probably has a psychological disorder or phobia.
For instance a pure introvert that doesn’t want to be around ANY people probably DOES have some severe phobia that prevents socializing (agoraphobia, severe social anxiety, OCD, etc)
I mean, even the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski tried to have romance and even put out ads for a wife. And, in fairness, hard to outdo Ted on the hermit-introvert-hating-people spectrum.
Same for the other side of that bell curve. A pure extrovert would be intolerable. They could never be left alone, which after the age of three gets its own section in the DSM-V.
Introvert & Extrovert Different for All
Yes, when it comes to how much of an introvert or extrovert we are and how this might manifest? We really ARE all special unique snowflakes. It’s all a reflection of nature and nurture, life experiences, strengths and weaknesses.
For instance, I loathe large crowds with the power of a thousand suns…unless I am presenting. You can put me on a stage in front of ten people or ten thousand or ten million and my wattage would just climb higher.
***I’d need more time to recover depending on the crowd.
But get me OFF that stage and IN that crowd and I promise you could literally watch me wilt in front of your eyes if it was a group larger than ten. Large groups drain me to the point of being physically ill if I can’t get away and alone to recharge.
This is why I don’t do concerts, hate bars, don’t do amusement parks on busy days and don’t shop at malls unless it’s during the week.
This is ALSO why I LOVE social media. As an introvert, it allows me to pace myself and what emotional energy I have to give…or not give.
Extroverts are the same. Just because they might need to be around people, the size of the group that recharges them or shorts them out might be different. And don’t assume that, just because they are quiet, they are an introvert.
Or, simply because someone is talkative and never met a stranger they’re an extrovert.
Not how this works.
Social Distancing Sucks for Introverts
As an author, my life hasn’t changed all THAT much since the quarantining began. This said, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t taken a serious toll. Remember, just because I need alone time to recharge doesn’t mean I don’t need people time as well.
I’m actually having a really hard time and imagine I am not alone. Why is that? Let’s return to my battery analogy. Introverts recharge with alone time. We’ve had a LOT of ALONE TIME, meaning we’ve pretty much been left on the charger all spring.
What happens to batteries that you leave on a charger all the time? They break down and eventually don’t function as well. Why is that?
Because of how batteries charge, discharge and recharge. We have to use the device so as to discharge some if the electrons because of the nature of the chemical reactions happening at the anode and cathode.
If you’ve ever owned a laptop or a smartphone and noticed the battery life dropping? The likely culprit is an atomic buildup that’s negatively impacting the electrode’s effectiveness.
With the strict quarantine and almost no social time, we’re like batteries breaking down because we have none of our usual outlets to discharge that energy we’ve built up while being alone.
Introverts are Never ALWAYS Alone
I’ll confess. Before the world went topsy-turvy, we introverts were probably the first to gripe about needing time alone. In fact, irony of ironies, my last blog post before the COVID19 pandemic hit was Quiet: Have We Forgotten to Be Still In a World That Never Stops?
I think that falls under the ‘Careful What You Wish for Category.’ #Oops
But the point was that my routine hasn’t changed a lot…but it’s been enough to really put a mental strain on me. And yes I AM SORRY. I guess I am never happy. Can we just find somewhere NOT in the extremes? Somewhere between lockdown and drinking from a friggin’ firehose?
Too much to ask? Just putting this out there for when we crawl out of the caves,.
Before this, I worked from home. Hubby works from home and I homeschool. But, I also could go to the gym, the park, Six Flags with Spawn and church on the weekends to visit family and friends.
I had ways of ‘discharging’ my battery that tired me out in good ways…then home to rest and recharge.
Now? I’ve had a really hard time even getting out of bed and couldn’t figure out why. I’m normally the Pollyanna.
Usually I’d be the one writing funny blogs or making videos to cheer everyone up and yet, lately, it’s been all I could do to wash my hair.
I Wanted to Know WHY
Which is why I shifted from writing about writing today and to blogging about introversion. As an introvert whose life hasn’t changed ALL THAT MUCH…why am I caving in?
***Aside from being drugged to the gills on allergy medicine.
For the first time in almost fourteen years of blogging I’m apathetic. I don’t want to write or talk to anyone or call anyone. I’ve lost interest in my garden. My crochet sits in a tangled mess. I’m SCANDINAVIAN and have lost my will to clean.
What was going ON?
At heart I am a creative person. But a lot of creative people are also fixers (engineers/tinkerers) deep down as well. So, I went to a rock quarry today.
Had thoughts of teaching myself how to mortar stone since someone ran over our mailbox (and I DID build a French well on my own last year). At the quarry I could be in the sun and think. And I could be FAR away from people unless I wanted to be squished by a backhoe.
There were enough people milling about that I perked up and this is when it hit me.
I’ve been an introvert battery sitting on the charger too long, and no I was NOT fine. Talking on-line or on Zoom or on a phone for whatever reason doesn’t replace being in proximity (even 6, or 10, or 15 feet) from other humans.
Knowledge Brings Peace
But, I guess figuring that little piece out helped me. When you’re fighting something you don’t understand—at least for me—it makes it worse. I was an introvert and should have been fine.
Why was I anything but?
I needed to discharge some energy. And maybe y’all can suggest some safe ways of doing that. It really isn’t about activity because I could do dishes or the wash and still just want to cry.
It’s about the social wiring inside of us that we are having to do something very unnatural in order to keep everyone healthy as we can.
Anyway, I think that me just knowing WHY I am going bonkers seemed to alleviate my anxiety a lot. Often being able to simply name a thing can take away its power and give you the strength to endure.
And maybe this post will help some of you know you are not alone. If you are an introvert also going bananas, I am right there with you. The extroverts aren’t the only ones chewing the wallpaper. Extroverts? Check on your introvert friends, too.
Lots of love. Stay safe and more on writing next week!
I LOVE Hearing From You!
Until we can all hang out, it will have to be here. I really would love to hear your thoughts. I’m bonkers enough to try and build a MAILBOX for god sakes. Hubby will take pictures when I mortar myself into the damned thing and look like Jabba the Hut has me in holding for a bounty.
Am I the only introvert going batty?
Is it wrong that I don’t WANT to use all this ‘freed up time’ to be MORE productive? I was ALREADY pretty frigging productive, thank you very much *ponytail swish*.
And YES I need cheese with my wine.
Note: Pick up more wine.
I mean I have been a good little worker bee. I’ve been editing and writing—though the fugue state of allergy meds—and organized the master closet (somewhat), cleaned out the flower beds, planted two trees, listened to at least ten audiobooks, and plotted how to murder all the TP hoarders and not get caught….
Just a message to the TP hoarders? When you switch to leaves, remember Leaves of three the best TP.
Anyway, what are your thoughts on this? I can’t be the ONLY introvert developing a (more pronounced) eye twitch. And, if I am, entertain yourselves mocking me. Hey, I’m game and a writer so have no pride :P.
I’ll pick a commenter for a free class just to sweeten the deal 😀 .