Tuesday, June 10, 2014

No time to be an introvert when you're new in town!

I've been learning a lot lately what it really means to be an introvert. I have always known that I am an introvert, but have always despised this fact, buying into the misinformed logic of what the world considers an introvert:

  • Shy

  • Snobbish

  • Reclusive

  • "Boring"

This neighborhood is full of extroverts. They are very kind and nice but they're used to letting their kids wander from house to house, knocking on doors to see who will play with them, while the adults drop by unannounced for short visits.

Let me make this clear, I'm not against this. I prefer this sort of socializing than to Facebook. However, it takes a lot for me to share myself in this way.

This afternoon a little girl stopped by asking if my girls could play. I told her we were having lunch and asked her to come back in about an hour. About 15 minutes later, she was back again. We've had her over before and I actually feel bad for her, because she is dropped off at her grandma's house with no one to play with. She came over the other day and played with Anna and Lucy and they were so excited for a playdate. Except, Lucy did not like this little girl one bit.

In truth, this little girl is very friendly but she tends to be also head-strong. It seems like she's used to getting her own way. She took over all of Lucy's toys and poured all the sand out of Lucy's sand sculpture. Not only that, she poured the sand down the drain, clogging it up.

This was when we were still in the midst of chaos and the last thing I wanted was more thing broken in this house. Not only that, it was nearing the end of the day, my energy was just about spent, and the last thing I wanted was to settle more disputes and this little girl caused a lot of them. She and Luke especially didn't get along, and she clocked Luke good with Dennis's fishing net (which they were not supposed to be playing in the boat but I didn't know it), giving Luke a big bloody scratch across his belly. I encourage the kids to play with this little girl anyway--for the sake of doing something kind for someone else--but I know that I'm asking a lot. My kids have climbed trees in order to hide from this girl.

But even if it's not an annoying little girl, sometimes it's an overly friendly neighbor that wants to take up my time chatting when really, all I wanted to do was work on the huge bed of weeds that used to be a garden.

Even at the end of the day, what I crave is silence and sometimes it's Dennis who is very chatty. Chatty, chatty, chatty, and I find myself praying that the talking will stop. I've heard nothing but words all day and all I want is to be quiet.

So this is why I have always hated being an introvert, because it seems that I really am snobbish, shy and reclusive. But I really didn't want to appear to be like this with the neighbors so I've forced myself to bite my tongue and smile, to put down the gardening rake and visit, to let the annoying little girl in and try to be patient. It hasn't always been easy.

But like I said, I have found some articles going around on Facebook on what an introvert really is. Here are some bullet points:


  • You start to shut down after being active for so long.

    Do you start to get tired and unresponsive after you've been out and about for too long? It's likely because you’re trying to conserve energy. Everything introverts do in the outside world causes them to expend energy, after which they'll need to go back and replenish their stores in a quiet environment, says Dembling. Short of a quiet place to go, many introverts will resort to zoning out.
  • Downtime doesn't feel unproductive to you.

    One of the most fundamental characteristics of introverts is that they need time alone to recharge their batteries. Whereas an extrovert might get bored or antsy spending a day at home alone with tea and a stack of magazines, this sort of down time feels necessary and satisfying to an introvert.
  • You've been called "too intense".

    Do you have a penchant for philosophical conversations and a love of thought-provoking books and movies? If so, you're a textbook introvert.
    "Introverts like to jump into the deep end," says Dembling.
  • You go to parties, but not to meet people.
  • If you're an introvert, you may sometimes enjoy going to parties, but chances are, you're not going because you're excited to meet new people. At a party, most introverts would rather spend time with people they already know and feel comfortable around. If you happen to meet a new person that you connect with, great -- but meeting people is rarely the goal.
  • You don't feel "high" from your surroundings.

    Neurochemically speaking, things like huge parties just aren’t your thing. Extroverts and introverts differ significantly in how their brains process experiences through "reward" centers.
  • Researchers demonstrated this phenomenon by giving Ritalin -- the ADHD drug that stimulates dopamine production in the brain -- to introverted and extroverted college students. They found that extroverts were more likely to associate the feeling of euphoria achieved by the rush of dopamine with the environment they were in. Introverts, by contrast, did not connect the feeling of reward to their surroundings. The study "suggests that introverts have a fundamental difference in how strongly they process rewards from their environment, with the brains of introverts weighing internal cues more strongly than external motivational and reward cues," explained LiveScience's Tia Ghose.
To read other signs that you might be an introvert, click on this link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/20/introverts-signs-am-i-introverted_n_3721431.html

Understanding what being an introvert really means has helped me understand myself a little bit more and also forgive myself for what look like snobbish or shy behavior to others. It also helps me understand that there are times when I will have to put forth a little extra effort to be friendly, outgoing, and give up some of that time to unwind that I usually save for myself if I want to make friends.

At the same time, on days when I feel like I'm overwhelmed, I'm not shy about giving myself an hour or two of "alone time" (meaning no people over, not necessarily time alone in my room.) I'm not shy about letting neighbor kids know that our kids will be ready to go out and play after their "Quiet Time" so that I can have that time to not have to worry about settling fights or finding things for them to do.

Dennis too, also knows that in the evenings I tend to "shut down" whether I mean to or not. He is very good about giving me a little time to myself to just be quiet, work with clay or watch something on Netflix without anyone around. I have learned that rather than pushing myself when I've had too much in one day, I'm a much better conversationalist with a little bit of "downtime" to gather up my energy again.

Are you an introvert?

1 comment: