Around May this year, I wrote about the introvert personality. It’s a concept that still fascinates me, particularly as so many people still confuse the meaning. For instance, I went out for drinks with a charming author last week and whilst talking about various other things I casually slipped into the conversation that I’m naturally quite introverted. To which he replied; “Darling I won’t have any of that, you’re not introverted at all. You’re so confident and bubbly.” I laughed and started to explain the introvert personality to him. He was genuinely astonished. I remember an old colleague once advised me against telling anyone that I was introverted, even alluding to this was ‘career suicide’
The reality is that ‘introvert’ is still a negative word and there needs to be a re-educating of society.
Here’s how I explain it:
1. I’m not shy or miserable, I just sometimes prefer to listen.
2. I like smaller groups and intimate conversations as opposed to huge group activities.
3. I need ‘down time/quiet time.’ This doesn’t mean that I crawl under my bed and lie in the dark drinking Vodka (if only.) I just need time to re-charge. I only have a limited amount of energy that I can ‘give’ to people each day and once that’s maxed out, I’m done. If I can’t recharge then I become grumpy and emotional. In contrast, extroverts need to be around people to recharge, so I can understand why wanting alone time might seem odd.
Out of the three, ‘down time’ is the most important aspect for me. Sometimes fifteen minutes will suffice. For instance, if I’ve had a morning of heavy meetings at work, then I’ll make sure that I go for a walk and listen to music. It’s easier to manage this in my professional life.
However, I need to make more of an effort to monitor this in my personal life. I tend to try and ignore this aspect of my personality and force myself to have more energy.
From a rational point of view I recognise how stupid this is. I spent years suppressing my anxiety and look how hazardous that was. The bottom line is I HATE letting people down or hurting their feelings, so I’ll practically drive myself into the ground before saying anything.
I went home for a long weekend with Rigby and whilst it was lovely to see my family, as I miss them so much, on the train back yesterday I wanted to cry. I hate writing this because I know that my mum will read it and it breaks my heart to think that she might be hurt. I went home for a rest and instead exhausted myself and it’s nobody’s fault but my own. I made all those plans.
The whole thing got off to a bad start when Rigby started to freak out on the train. She’s normally fine, but on this occasion she was shaking, panting and crying for over an hour. It was highly distressing to watch and I did everything I could to calm her down.
Once safely at home I realised that I wished nobody knew I was back and if I could’ve told the truth about everything, then it would’ve been the following:
- I can’t enjoy the spa because I know that gran is in agony. I spent the whole time worrying about her and trying to force myself to be chatty. Traditionally, I don’t relax in situations where you’re supposed to relax, unless I’m on my own.
- Mum, the house is far too hot and it’s making me feel sick.
- Dad, when you question everything I do it makes me feel anxious.. that’s why I’m always apologising to you!
- I’m really struggling with car sickness at the moment and it triggers my anxiety. I spent the entire time at grandmas trying not to have a panic attack.
- Rigby, when you sit on my stomach it makes the travel sickness worse!
- To myself, why did you think that getting completely trashed on Fri night was a good idea? You know dam well that it messes with your hormone levels. You can’t drink like you used to. Get a grip and accept that, nobody will think less of you.
Apart from the hours that I spent in bed on Saturday trying not to die of a hangover, I didn’t really have any down time. But as I said it’s my fault, nobody forced me to do anything.
It’s cowardice on my part more than anything. I should just tell the truth and be done with it. Why do I make all these plans when I know it’s not what I want? Habit I suppose.
I think I’m starting to learn my lesson. I can’t keep ignoring it anymore.
Apologies, this has been an incredibly whiny and unhelpful post. I’m tired, so let’s blame my lack of creativity on that.