As an introvert, I am naturally a very deep thinker. I prefer to spend my Sundays, reflecting on the prior week, responding to my text messages I never got around to, pondering if there are relationships I must repair the next week, thinking about which lessons I might have to re-teach, and planning out when I have time to eat throughout my next week. During my normal week, I am so busy running from place to place that my weekends are usually set aside to reflect on all the things I did, and all the things I must do. So, when that introverted thinking time is lost, I wake up on Monday morning, feeling completely discombobulated, frazzled, and unprepared. I start my Monday haphazardly, my Tuesday in a tizzy, and by Friday, I am so exhausted by trying to play catch up that I need even more time to myself.
And, because I perceive my time as being very limited, I get agitated when I have to engage in small talk. On these weeks when my introvertness really kicks in, I even find myself getting agitated at church when we have to greet the strangers around us. I totally and completely understand the purpose of that; I just don’t particularly want to participate, because my brain is full of other stuff, and engaging in small talk seems like a waste of my precious time (which I know, in turn, makes me seem bitchy and unapproachable). Like, right now, my brain is currently contemplating (a) how I am going to change that formation in our dance, (b) what new marketing scheme I am going to try for Happily Never After, (c) who I am going to write thank you cards for this week, (d) how I am going to stack that media lesson tomorrow, (e) whether or not technology is changing the way in which we acquire language, and (f) which yoga class I should attend on Thanksgiving. So, if you can’t offer my any insight into any of these topics, I really don’t have the brain capacity to talk to you, because its already flooded with introvertness. We don’t need to fakey-fake, “How was the weather on your side of the neighborhood?”. We don’t need to discuss, “Do you think I should paint my nails sizzling orange or sassy pink tomorrow?”, and we DEFINITELY do not need to which serving bowl we are going to use to mash our potatoes in for Thanksgiving dinner. It’s really fine for us to just sit in silence and stare off into the distance.
But, perhaps the most painful part of being an introvert is having to adjust to social situations. Of course, as an introvert, I am always observing the social interactions around me. I notice when that smile ever so slightly drops, when that tone of voice slightly becomes defensive, when that conversation slightly changes topics, and I naturally want to contemplate how I, myself, should react most appropriately; in my head, I am weighing my options: “If I try to tell a joke, I might deter the awkwardness”, “Are her feelings hurt and I should try to point that out?”, “Do I think this person is trying to ask me on a date, and if so, how should I most appropriately reject him?” (because, remember, as an introvert, dating is the most repulsive thing ever). But, when I am tired, and I haven’t been able to refuel my introvertness, my thoughts get jumbled, there are too many of them floating around that haven’t been resolved, I don’t feel grounded, and I am not able to focus on my usually very poignant, calculated social interactions with people. I say something I don’t necessarily mean, I use what I perceive later as an attacking tone during that conversation, I ignore the social cues I usually pick up on, and when I do finally have time to pause and reflect, I start feeling guilty, because I probably came off as bitchy, I normally do not act like that, and I know I probably need to mend a relationship (and then, of course, I have to spend time, contemplating how I do that, but since my introvertness is so backed up, I panic that I have a million OTHER relationships to mend as well, and a limited amount of time to reflect on all of those, because of all the cookie exchanges, holiday parties, and other various social engagements coming up).
Of course, the extraverts do not always understand why I would prefer to stare at the wall than go out on Friday night, and they sometimes get offended when I don’t respond back to their messages right away. When I feel my introvertness REALLY backing up, I try to communicate that to people as soon as possible. I think the extraverts usually catch one when suddenly, they see 10 blogs posted–which means I am getting caught up on my introvertness–I usually blast my music, putz around the house, and meddle out my thoughts, and those few hours devoted solely to socializing in my own brain seem to cure me of my inhibitions.
So, when I leave that cookie exchange, holiday party, or other various social engagement early because “my introvertness is kicking in”, don’t take it personally. It’s really me, not you; I’m trying to spare you from an introverted attack.