A few weeks ago an old article made the rounds again. It’s called Caring for Your Introvert and it begins with this paragraph:
Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accosted with pleasantries by people who are just trying to be nice?
The title of the post made my inner introvert immediately click through to see how I was supposed to be cared for, but it was that paragraph that really hooked me.
I need alone time like no one else I know.
I love quiet conversations, am pretty comfortable presenting to large groups, but am not so keen on small-talk situations. They don’t make me want to crawl into a hole, but it’s not how I’d choose to spend my time, either.
I like to think parties or social occasions will be good for me, and sometimes they are. But sometimes I want to leave three minutes after I walk in the door.
And I will admit that pleasantries, especially at work, make me wish my iPhone had fewer rounded corners and more sharp edges so I could use it to stab myself in the eye.
But it’s having quiet time to myself that really puts me near the far end of the introvert scale.
As the article says, introverts are not shy. We’re generally not anxious or unsettled in social situations. We just find other people tiring.
I’m finding this particularly true lately. I’m in a new job in a more open-space office, and it’s overwhelming. The team that sits behind us is, um, rowdy, and it makes me want to shut myself in the bathroom. (Sometimes I do.) By the time I get home at the end of the day I don’t want anyone to talk to me, which doesn’t work at all well with a preschooler who wants me to play as soon as I walk in the door.
And then there’s my husband. He spends most of his day with a very small, though very verbal, person, and I don’t blame him for wanting to tell me about their day. And I want to hear about it. I really do. But sometimes I hear it better after I’ve locked myself in the bathroom for a few minutes when I get home.
Caring for Your Introvert is actually less about caring for introverts and more about who we are. I don’t identify with all of it. I don’t think I’m quite as extreme as the author portrays himself to be.
But most of the time I really would appreciate it if people would just shush.