It seems to be cool to blog about being introverted lately. I’m introverted, always have been, and I’ve known that’s a form of minority since I was a teenager. Lately there seems to be a groundswell to try explaining introversion to the planet full of happy “people-persons,” like we’re developmentally delayed or something. “Disabled doesn’t mean Unable,” or “Introverted doesn’t mean Damaged,” I guess.
Let me dive right into it…I don’t hate people. Well, I mean I do on an individual basis, but you have to earn that hate. I like going to events and parties (the right kind of parties, more later) where there will be people. I actually hate going places alone – when my family’s out of town and I have to go shop, it feels wrong.
Here’s the thing – social events tire me out. It drains my batteries to have to be “on” for an entire evening, to make conversation, to strain to hear individual people in the babble of a room full of partiers and music. I might really love the event or whatever I’m at…but it drains my energy. I know in advance that it’s going to drain my energy, so I make sure I’m energized and ready beforehand, and I pay attention to my energy throughout the night.
Once I leave the party, I really enjoy the quiet car ride home. I can let my ears finally pop, I can relax, I can “turn it off,” and start to recharge. I don’t know if other people experience this, but when I’m in a really loud room, full of people talking and music, my ears quit working. It’s like there’s cotton shoved in ‘em, and it all turns into a sort of dull roar and I have to really concentrate to pick out one person’s voice, even if they’re sitting right next to me; even if they’re talking to me. I think I hear everything, and it overloads my aural nerves and they slam a filter down. Or something. But it makes me look like I’m daydreaming or not paying attention, when in reality I just can’t hear what people are saying.
As for the kind of party I like…I like a party that’s relaxed, and where I know pretty much everybody in the room. I’m throwing that kind of party this weekend, actually. There’ll be decently quiet music, and places to sit, and beer and grilled meat, and a bunch of people from my team at work. People I can talk to, people I don’t have to impress.
On the other hand, I dearly loathe parties where I only know the host, and the music’s shaking the windows. I shrink back and look at my watch all night until I think I’ve stayed long enough to not offend my host by leaving. I fend off the repeated “why aren’t you having fun” questions all night, because I hang back and people-watch rather than jump up and down in the middle of the room and trade old war stories with strangers. And the next day I have to reassure the host, who just HAS to tell me, “I’m sorry you didn’t have a good time.”
And after a hard workday, or a long week, or a party, or anything where I’ve had to be around a lot of people, I like to have some quiet time. I like to read a book, or ride a bicycle (without earbuds, thank you!), or putter on a project in the garage. I actually like some parts of my long commute, because I get to be by myself in the car, with music I like. The key is that I’m not around people, and I get to settle down and recharge my batteries. I work from home one day a week, and I love it because I get to have the empty house all to myself for eight hours. It’s glorious.
I understand that’s the opposite of what extroverted people feel. I can’t identify with it, but I understand and accept that extroverts recharge their batteries when they’re around other people, and that sitting in a quiet room and reading all weekend is a torture of cosmic proportions. It seems pretty alien, but I get it. I would think that people who are that much about other people would understand that I like something alien to them.