As an introvert, I need a lot of "me" time. I need quiet. I get easily overstimulated. The only problem is that, I don't LOOK like an introvert. I am animated and gregarious and very talkative. I enjoy people. I am always planning activities and building community. I live in a house with 3 other people. Writing this blog is a great way for my introvert to relax because I can be alone & quiet when I write it, but I can still engage in lively interaction and conversation with others.
Is it easier for an introvert to be a Singlutionary?
Spirited Children (or something like that)
My best friend, the Purple Turtle is an introvert with an extrovert for a husband and a 4 year old extrovert for a son. I used to find her husband exceedingly annoying because he never rests. He never stops talking and he doesn't understand that other people need time and space to think. Purple Turtle read this wonderful book about raising her extroverted son but she really learned more about how to nurture her introverted self. This book talks about how to deal with introverted children (of which I was certainly one) as well as introverted ones. It says that when they get home from school, introverts need time alone and so it is best to let them be by themselves until dinner time and then engage with them, ask them how their day went, etc.
When I come home from work, I do not want to be bombarded with hugs or requests or questions or invitations to go out. I don't want to interact. Or, maybe I do want to interact but only with very specific people in a very specific way.
The reason I haven't been writing much lately, is that I've been in a very conflicted relationship that I was never fully on board for. Many people in my inner circle don't even know about this relationship because I didn't want to announce something that I was never sure was going to last. It didn't. There are many reasons for this. I learned a lot about myself, who I am and who I am not. Perhaps the biggest lesson of all (aside from being a little more cautious before committing to being in a relationship and NEVER telling potential partners about this blog) is that I am intensely introverted. Yes, I go out in the world and interact with strangers. Yes, I am always creating events and hosting get-togethers. Yes, I even have my own meetup group. But I have a secret life outside of all of that that most people never see. This secret life is quiet, introspective and solitary. I need this secret life to be well and thriving in my public life. In order to go out into the world and be the vivacious, active, creative and ambitious person that I am, I also need this deeply personal sacred time. And I need a lot of it. In a relationship, a lot of this time seems to, for me, get negotiated away. It disappears under the expectation that being involved with someone means wanting to spend ALL free time together.
Our culture worships the extrovert. If you are a quiet, shy or reserved person, you might be perceived as rude or unhappy or maybe even stupid. Social, gregarious people are seen as smarter, sexier and more likely to be successful. I've adapted. Last week, I was told by a friend of a friend that I seem to be an extrovert. This makes it even more offensive to people when I frequently turn down social invitations. There is often an attitude, especially amongst younger folks, that if you're not doing anything particular, you're available to socialize. So, on a Friday night, if I don't have plans, I am expected to accept invitations to go out or do SOMETHING. When in fact, I do have plans -- with myself. And no, this is not lame and pathetic but vitally important to my well being, my ability to function in the world and my ability to be who I am.
It is difficult for me to explain this to people sometimes. I've had to become comfortable with saying "no" and knowing that for some people, it will seem as if I am rejecting them entirely.
This private, solitary life that I lead in the corners of the day when I can sneak away from demands and social expectations is usually enjoyed 100% alone. There are a few people who I could be in the same room with and still feel this sense of peace and rejuvenation. The folks are also introverts. I suspect that all introverts have private lives and sometimes we lead them in the same room. Purple Turtle, my best friend from childhood, is someone who I can be around for days on end -- mainly because we have the same need for quiet and introspection. If she grabs a journal and a book and goes to sit in a chair on the other side of the room, I know what is up and I follow suit. I have a cousin that I also can spend a lot of time around -- and my parents -- the biggest introverts of all (almost to the point of being hermits).
It was very difficult, in many of my past relationships to have this private, quiet, reflective time. The extroverts that I was dating did not understand. They felt shut out. They wondered why I didn't want to do things with them all the time. Meanwhile I felt drained and angry. Sacrificing this time is not an option for me.
Now that I am back to being single, I feel this huge sense of relief. I can be myself again. I can shut the door and lock it. I am free to be alone. And then, when I am done recharging, I am free to go back out into the world and be me.
Does my introversion prevent me from being in a relationship? No. It just narrows the pool to people who can understand my need for solitude. Should I only date introverts from now on? Maybe. Or at least people who understand the need for quiet and peace and aloneness and who enjoy it themselves.