Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Few Tips for my Fellow Introverts (that you might already know)

If there was some kind of Olympics for being an extrovert, my husband would qualify.  He is like the king of the extroverts. And being that I love extroverted people, I married him, among many reasons, because my subconscious thought we would work together well as extrovert + introvert.  That has become the case, but it wasn't at first. It has taken us a while to figure out how to take our differences and magically mesh them. (And we still have a few kinks in the system to work on, so I'm far from expert.)

Today, since this lovely has been circulating facebook, I thought I would chime in on how to enjoy life as a weird introvert. I kid. Mostly. 

These tips do not come without a history of learning them the hard way. And lest you doubt my melodrama, I once cried myself to sleep in our walk-in closet while guests were staying in our home. Yeah, I'm that introverted. And if you have no idea why good, kind, gracious guests would drive an otherwise relatively normal person to cry in her closet, well, you may not be an introvert. But feel free to keep reading to marvel at my weirdness.

1. Layer silence and solitude into your schedule. I realized I was an introvert my fourth year of teaching (only a few years ago---I was in denial for a very long time because I'm entirely convinced extroverts are the. best.). I was crazy busy. Taught an extra class during my prep time. Did extracurriculars. Tutored kids. Had a kid myself. And my husband was busier and busier with his job too. Oh and he traveled a lot.  Despite exhaustion and being immeasurably behind around the house, the strangest thing happened. I started waking an hour before I needed to. I would read or write or just sip on coffee and listen to the birds lift the darkness on the other side of my sun room windows. I didn't plan for it or set my alarm for it. I needed quiet so desperately, my body was willing it. And I found so much peace because of that time.  

If I know I have several social priorities in a week, I have to consciously schedule snippets of time to be by myself. I draw so much from this. And if I don't fill back up this way, I end up cranky and discourteous with others which makes me so very sad.

This brings me to my next point...

2. Develop some sort of plan.
Every time we host a group at our house, my husband and I know I have to have a lot of quiet before and after. Sounds crazy, right? Well, it's that or I'm just a horrible person.  I'm so grateful the misunderstandings about our different personalities are, for the most part, behind us.  He respects my need for space. I try my best to say yes to his desire to be out and about with people. It works because we remember we're different and that's okay.

You know the demands on you.  Figure out little tricks to refuel. You know that satisfying sense of the gas tank filling up? You should shoot for that feeling. If you are missing that as an introvert or an extrovert try some tweaks here or there. I know it's not all about "I", but if we are to serve and love others, we really need to know how to be our best selves first. If that means the indulgence of closing the door to your bedroom for 15 minutes so you can reclaim sanity--do it!

But you don't have to go big or go home. Some small ways I refuel: write, claim kid-free spaces and times, wake early, take just 5 minutes to sit outside and stare at leaves, clean, put cell phone far away, go for a 15 minute walk, take a drive, go say hello to nature, journal, make something pretty.

It doesn't take much, but you want to refuel before you are empty. It's not like you can silence life on demand. Grab those quiet moments when you can.

3. Know your boundaries. None of us get to pull the "no thanks, I'm an introvert" card and just opt out of all social engagements we don't feel like going to, but it is important to know when something is too much.  You can always engage but take small breaks that no one could care less about.  My husband is the oldest of ten and so family get togethers are pretty crazy. And I love them.  But I also know my boundaries.  When I can feel myself getting irritated I go to a room with less people, take a walk with Paul, or just hide in my room for a few minutes with a book. These small breaks make a world of difference.  I always return once again feeling like every soul around me is wonderful, wonderful!

4. Love on others. A danger I've found in being an introvert is that our relationships with others feel a bit taxing and then we can, in a long and winding journey of events, perceive it as just not worth the effort and oops, fade out of the picture. Oh my gosh. I know that just sounds like the worst. I don't know a nicer way to say that it takes us a lot to stick around and play nice.  And you know what, I'll go out on a limb and just say that it is okay sometimes.  If someone I meet is superficial, catty, petty, gossip-y or just generally angry, the chances of me investing in them are about nill.  I just can't. Big time energy suck. I don't know if that's the worst thing ever.

But the worst is when you are so in love with being alone you start just not wanting to be around anyone.  Then something is off. It's not right.  Relationships are worth the work.  Our connections with others really is what life is all about! (Or so said me.) So get your butt out there and work on 'em even when you just feel like reading on the couch until you shrivel and die...or you run out of cookies and milk, whichever comes first.

I'm so grateful Paul is my built in kick-me-in-the-pants assistant. When he sees me slip into the loner look, he sets me straight.  Thank goodness. Because with all the flour, sugar, chocolate chips, butter and eggs I buy in my once a week outings to Sam's... I could read on the couch for a very, very long time.

So, what do you think? Which side of the fence are you on? Have any tips or tricks of your own? Any questions from the extrovert crowd? 


  1. I'm definitely on the other side of the fence! Before having Silas I'd have to make a point to take some quiet time for myself, reading or praying or writing, because I knew I would be much better for it...but sometimes I'd do this in the same room as my husband because I just didn't want to be alone. Now that I'm a SAHM, I find myself wanting more human interaction (actually blogged about that yesterday!) The problem is I'm not really sure where to find it all of the time. Thanks for this insightful post! It's nice to read in-depth about other perceptions :)

    1. Danielle. I read your post yesterday and forgot to comment on it. I so understood that panicky feel you were describing. This winter will be my 1st as a SAHM and with a 3 yo boy and the twins so.... a little freaked out here just waiting to be trapped in. Haha. Sometimes, even as an introvert I'll crave being around people, although it doesn't happen nearly as often as me stealing away some solitude. Just going to the mall to be around people or having a friendly dialogue with a cashier is often enough to get me an energy buzz. From what I understand of some extroverts, there's a sense of the more, the merrier. When my husband has had an awful or stressful or whatever week he calls to see if we can bring some friends over. This use to absolutely baffle me. But tis the extrovert. :) I'll be saying little prayers for you this winter!

  2. All I want to do is implement all your introverted goodness at the same time while taking a 2 hour long uninterrupted bath. With a waterproof Kindle and unlimited gallons of wine. So much goodness here.

  3. "take just 5 minutes to sit outside and stare at leaves" - you just spoke to the depths of my soul!

    "A danger I've found in being an introvert is that our relationships with others feel a bit taxing and then we can, in a long and winding journey of events, perceive it as just not worth the effort and oops, fade out of the picture. Oh my gosh. I know that just sounds like the worst." - Girl, I totally understand. I'm super critical of my friendships. I don't want (and feel like I don't have time) to chase people. I have a few friends that do no contact me unless I contact them. It's exhausting. And after inviting said friends for a hang-out on four different occasions and she turns them all down? Nah. Sweet sweet girls but I would rather not play catch-a-friend.

    So... you got me. Because right now this is me "But the worst is when you are so in love with being alone you start just not wanting to be around anyone." Recovering from 7+ weeks of morning sickness, two toddlers, nap-time, feeding kids and myself all day, trying to keep the house presentable because it is up for sale, like, I'm quite happy not coordinating anything with anyone because it takes me like three days to recover from a two hour play-date! But I guess I should. *sigh* (Now that I've been called-out by a fellow introvert!) ;-)

    1. So great to hear from you and how much I struck a cord. I feel like being an introvert is just this little tiny cross that a lot of people don't understand (and I say little tiny because it is such a small issue but there are so many times that I just think my life could be SO much easier if I didn't have such a desire to be alone). I have to find creative ways to work around it so I can love others like they deserve. :)