I don’t remember how long ago I was introduced to the words “introverted” and “extroverted”, but I do know, nothing shines a light on the massive differences between them more than working where a lot of people have unfettered access to me whenever they want for several hours a day straight. Lately, I have found myself physically exhausted by the time I get into my truck and go home.
My entire life, I have been surrounded by extroverted people. My sisters and brothers are all extroverted. My father certainly is, as well. My mother would bounce back and forth over the invisible line regularly, but looking back, this personality characteristic probably comes from her. I just cannot find any other relatives that seem to share this trait with me. Of my three children, Rebekkah is the only introverted one of the bunch. I suspect our need for “alone time” is what keeps us peaceably co-existing in the same house for years on end. We both understand, we have a daily limit of how much we can interact with another human being, and once that quota has been hit, we shut down like a rolling California blackout.
Back when my previous employer had us take the Myers-Briggs personality test, I scored heavily in the introverted area, and I was rewarded with a list of things I should look out for in myself. …Social anxiety disorders, agoraphobia, depression… All sorts of symptoms that include isolating as a primary clue something in my brain might be broken. Nice.
People who hover personality-wise in the middle of each category tend to be the most well-adjusted, mentally healthy people. That makes sense. Balance is always a good thing. However, for people who have an extreme category, like I do, the wise thing to do is to try to work a little more balance into that area, if possible. For me, that area has always been introversion. I probably could live on an island for ten years with a dirty soccer ball for my only friend, and be quite content. Especially if I had a laptop and the internet.
I genuinely care about what I do for a living, and because my brain starts to become over-stimulated in the late afternoon, I become less productive. To combat this, I have been trying to come in to work very early in the morning so I will not have so much interaction with people while I get my work done. For the creative parts of my job, I tend to brainstorm at night. This system has been working pretty well….until I ventured out from my safety zone to include a few dates with a new man. Turns out, I have had a delicate balance going on, and it didn’t take much to throw everything off kilter.
It has not worked out for this new guy and me, and the primary reason is I find myself unable to summon up enough energy to cultivate a new relationship in the evenings after work. By the time I walk in the front door, I’m often literally agitated by the simple act of talking, and anything else that needs to be discussed has to be brief, to-the-point, and important. Nor can I devote a lot of time to listening to someone talk either. Normally, it takes a few hours of being left to myself to gain back my equilibrium so I can function productively again. It has always been this way with me, and those who have known me the best understand this is just how I am, and don’t take my withdrawing personally.
Let’s call my latest boyfriend Jacob. Unlike Simon, Jacob and I just met. I guess it is saying something that I am able to project an image of myself that appears so normal, when really, with matters of the heart, I am not your stereotypical female. I have always shied away from commitment. I am not usually nostalgic or romantic. Add that to a sturdy set of trust-issues and an introverted personality, and you have one hard girl to get to know.
My divorce might have caused me to become a little more cynical about “happily ever after” love affairs, but I have never bought into “all we need is love”, either. I had a long, happy marriage, but it took a lot of work to keep it that way. All the love in the world had not been able to save my marriage when my husband no longer worked at keeping it alive with me.
Jacob is handsome, intelligent, and he seems genuinely hurt by what, on the surface, seems to be my general lack of interest in spending any time with him. I have tried to explain the real root of my need to be alone so often in the evenings, but I can tell he thinks I might be trying to placate him. I never tell people a bunch of nonsense crap just to spare their feelings. For me, the most respectful way to communicate to someone else is to be truthful, albeit in a tactful way, and without coming off as accusing if possible.
Another complication I find myself dealing with is Jacob’s assumption that because of all the pain and sorrow my crumbled marriage caused me, my behavior is merely a self-defense from having my heart broken again, and as such, can be overcome with a little patience and kindness on his part. While I always appreciate patience and kindness, you aren’t going to transform me back to normal by literally drowning me in your “understanding”. This is my normal. You are just drowning me.
I have been blogging openly about my life for three years now, and without fail, there is always some guy who goes mining in the archives for something they can use to hurry up the process of sweeping me off my feet and into their bed. It never works. There are no shortcuts to trusting someone for me, and the more I feel pressured, the further I withdraw. It is no hardship for me to be alone and for a relationship to work if I am in it, my partner probably should be the same way.
I am becoming more and more convinced, only a man truly confident within himself would be able to enjoy a relationship with a person like me. I might never find that kind of man, but that’s where being so introverted is a blessing. I simply don’t need a man to be happy.
For a clear, simple understanding of the introvert and extrovert’s differences, I liked this article – Are Introverted Brains Really Different Compared To Extroverted Ones?
Spoiler Alert: Yes. Yes, they are.