Unexpectedly Introverted Living in an Extrovert World

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So here was my year at a glance: had a baby, co-planned and co-hosted two baby showers, stood up in a wedding three weeks after I had Gracie, hosted two birthday parties for my boys and one giant birthday celebration for my very sweet Grammie Ellie, hosted a celebration for Gracie’s baptism, and now I am gearing up to host Christmas for Scott’s mom’s side of the family next month. I am not listing any of this as a way to toot my own horn or even to complain, but rather to explain how in spite of all of these “extra-circulars,” I am a pure introvert.
It may or may not come as a surprise to you to know that I am an introvert. I discovered this only within the last year or so. I always thought an introvert was someone who was very shy (and I am not shy). Here is the actual meaning of the word “introvert”: the state of or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one’s own mental life. In other words, “introspective” or “self-analytical.” And that is who I am, as you can probably see. It also has been said that introverts re-charge their batteries by being alone and being in group settings tends to drain them. This is true for me.
I actually love opening up to people one-on-one and listening to people, getting to know them better. I love finding out what makes people tick and finding that hey, maybe I’m not such a weirdo after all! I like cooking very much (it is usually an “alone” activity for me) so entertaining isn’t really the issue for me either. Believe it or not, public speaking doesn’t even bother me too much because it allows me a chance to write something down before-hand and is a chance for me to be alone with my thoughts.
That is pretty much where the contradictions end, however. I do not like crowds. I get very anxious whenever I host a get-together or am invited to one. Even play-dates stress me out. I do not like having one-on-one attention with another individual compromised by noise of other people, music, screaming kids, even our pool is a problem for me because my eyes are darting around making sure that no one is drowning. I like giving people my undivided attention and I also like to be alone in my head. My day literally plays out like a narrative or a movie script in my head. I need time to reflect, to sort out my thoughts. Unfortunately it comes at a price.

Glennon from Momastery blogged yesterday (http://momastery.com/blog/2013/11/26/somebody-help-figure-good-friend-others/) about her struggle with introversion and I thought, “My God, I could have written this.” Her thoughts mirrored so many of my own.
I do feel like a crappy person to many people in my life. I know for a fact there are people who have contacted me wondering, “Did I do something wrong? Are you upset with me?”

The simple answer is the old, “It’s not you, it’s me,” line. And it really is me. It was me trying desperately to fight my introversion and to make you think I am this really energetic, go-with-the-flow kind of person. And I do this because on more than one occasion in my life, people have told me that when they first met me they thought I was going to be a giant b**** before they got to know me. I am always eager to prove people wrong. My introversion probably could come across as “snooty” but it’s really not my intention. I really do want to spend an afternoon getting to know people, chatting or catching up, but I know it will involve my kids running under foot, my attention being pulled away from what I feel like I should be doing, and inevitably a half hearted conversation on my part. But more importantly, constantly socializing drains me and takes away from who I truly am.

My kids also suffer from my introversion. I am very short with them most days. I wouldn’t say I’m mean, just business-like. I am not the “fun” mom who I always envisioned being before I was a mom. I find I am asking them to help pick up their toys constantly or snapping at them to stop jumping on the couch. And I never thought I would feel this way, but sometimes I find it grating to hear their little voices saying, “Mom, watch this!” or “Mom, look at me!” or “Mom, can you get me (fill in the blank)?” I hit a point around 6:00 p.m. most days when I want to run screaming from the house, tired of being pulled in too many directions, none of which are the direction I would choose to be going if I were alone.

And poor Scott gets whatever is leftover at the end of a day like that. Generally he’s okay with the arrangement. He is also extremely introverted and respects my need for temporary solitude. I usually just hand him the baby and tell him I am going to take a shower or I need to go to the grocery store alone. I know it sounds awful, but I need that chance to regroup. As soon as I get back from the store, I instantly love the sound of their little voices yelping, “Mom, you’re home!” from the other room. It’s just I need that time alone every day.

I have a handful of friends who understand me and I am thankful for their friendship. A three-month lapse in communication doesn’t seem to phase them and we can pick up right where we left off. I suspect that they are introverts as well. My extrovert friends are less accommodating to my preference for solitude so I don’t have many. There are only a handful of people I can talk to every day without feeling that sense of intrusion. It’s nothing personal to anyone. It’s just how I am wired. Ask any introvert and I can almost guarantee that they will agree.

Glennon had me thinking about it all at length after I read her blog post yesterday (a fellow introvert friend tipped me off to read it). But I feel like we are a misunderstood breed of people. We have many gifts to share. It seems like a selfish way to be, but I imagine we were made this way for some greater purpose. I need to learn to embrace it. I wonder if anyone out there has any advice to give on this. Because right now, I feel guilty about being this way. It goes against the grain in almost every aspect of who I am “supposed” to be; part of a large and rowdy family and an active, involved mother of three crazy kids. I welcome any input or insight anyone can share! Introverts Unite! (Quietly, Anonymously, and Separately)!

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5 thoughts on “Unexpectedly Introverted Living in an Extrovert World

  1. You inherited that quality from me. I consider it to be quite calming and slows life down when it gets a little crazy. Why do you think a lot of kids need time outs.

  2. Get Dani Shapiro’s book “Still Writing.” (It’s new.) I think you will feel a lot better when you read it, it’s very reassuring, I loved it.

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