What “I’m an Introvert” means to me (and what it doesn’t)

I’m an introvert. To be specific, I’m a Cancer-Rabbit and an INFJ and a hermit.

I am not shy. If I’m fully-charged and full of energy, I can easily be the life of the party. I can admit that I’m always somewhat socially awkward, but that’s more about being a little too honest, and not caring about social niceties quite enough.

It bugs me when people say that they have a hard time believing that I’m an introvert, because I know that they don’t understand what that word really means.  Here’s what I mean when I self-identify as an introvert:

#1 – I have a Loading Bar

When I have to answer a tough question, it can take me a few minutes… a few hours, or even a few days to fully formulate my response. When I’m particularly overstimulated, even “What do you want to eat for dinner” can cause a loading bar to pop up.  But usually, these things only happen with bigger, harder questions.

Brett knows when he asks me something, and this blank stare clouds my features that the loading bar has popped up. Sometimes he will ask whether I’ve heard him (he can’t tell whether he’s crashed the system or whether the bar is still going). Often, he’ll ask whether I need to go journal about it. And the answer, is yes. Yes, I do.

What  this does not mean:  That I’m stupid, or that I am not carefully considering what you’ve said. Often it means quite the opposite.

#2 – I “Recharge my batteries” by Being Alone and Silent

When I’ve spent time with other people, or even just being “talked at” by television or a movie, I feel tired. I’m a bit extreme, even for an introvert, in that TV or radio can exhaust me.  Background noise exhausts me.

Part of this is that I have a hard time filtering it out – I can’t easily let background noise wash away and just become part of the background. It is always in the foreground, so it always demands my attention.

The way that introverts recharge is one of the primary ways you can identify an innie versus an outie. Yes, most extroverts do have the need to spend some time alone. A few hours each week, perhaps, or maybe an afternoon. But an extrovert will feel revved up after a party, and introverts like me will feel drained an exhausted.

I don’t need hours. I need days of alone time.  I’m used to getting about half a week’s worth of uninterrupted waking alone time, and that’s about right. During this time the house is usually silent. I read, I write, I cook, I do crafty things. I don’t watch TV, I don’t listen to music. I don’t talk to anyone, even the pets. After this, I can manage going to the movies, to parties, to having a house full of people all weekend. Without this, look out.

I’ve found that my coping mechanism, when I’m not getting the alone time that I need is to be a royal bitch. If I push people away by being nasty, then they will leave me alone. Then I’ll feel better. I can identify large swaths of my life when this was my predominant mood. I apologize to everyone who had to be near me during those times.   If only I had been better equipped to understand that I just needed a few hours to myself!

Now, I can just clue Brett in that I’m feeling overstimulated, and he will clear out. Suddenly, he and Ethan will have a movie to watch without me, or a walk they have to take the dog on.  This keeps everyone much, much happier than the alternative.

What this doesn’t mean: that I don’t get lonely. Just because I’m comfortable with myself for large chunks of time does not mean that I don’t crave companionship or company. I’d just prefer you people to visit one at a time, please.

There is a little more to it than this, but these are the two biggest things where my personality type impacts my day-to-day life.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? How do you recharge?

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6 thoughts on “What “I’m an Introvert” means to me (and what it doesn’t)

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