AN OPEN LETTER TO EXTROVERTS: WHAT THE INTROVERTS IN YOUR LIFE WANT YOU TO KNOW:
3) Feeling Drained is No Joke
We live in an extrovert’s world. And many introverts (myself included) put on the role of extrovert as part of our work wardrobe each day. And it can be exhausting. When we don’t have the time to recharge, we feel fragile. Fragmented. Raw. My whole nervous system feels fried and jerky and I feel utterly depleted. We can be irritable and snappy. It can manifest as anxiety, depression or “burn out” but, in reality, it’s just too much time being “on” without an opportunity to replenish.
5) We Can Appear Aloof
I can be in a crowded gym without headphones on and still feel alone; I have an impressive ability to shut out all of the noise and activity around me and focus on my own workout. I often don’t notice when someone approaches or speaks to me. At work, I frequently forget to preface a question with small talk platitudes. It’s not that I don’t care about the person; I’m just focused on the task. In meetings, I often sit alone intentionally. Sometimes even on the floor. Introverts may appear to be anti-social at times. We’re not. We do care. It just takes energy that we may not have in the moment.
6) We Have the Deep Conversations
Conversation for us takes energy. And we don’t waste it. We may not be the masters of cocktail chatter, but we will quickly identify issues and dig into a deeper conversation. Our time spent observing others often gives us insight. I remember when I was dating, many of the guys expressed surprise that we ended up having such involved conversations on the first date. I wasn’t surprised.
10) We Can Be Sensitive to Intrusions
I don’t mind when my work is interrupted, but I can be quite irritated when my solitude is broken. When I retreat, I find I become hypersensitive to noises and lights that come from outside my space. It’s as though the shield is down and I am more vulnerable and sensitive to the outside world. While at other times, I can easily enjoy the same sounds and activities. In other words, introverts want to go to the party rather than have the party come to us.
11) We Are Prone to Isolation
The solitude that introverts seek can become unbalanced during times of stress or trauma as we can easily put ourselves in quarantine. I was very aware of this trait during my divorce when I chose to live with a friend instead of living alone. Even though the constant noise of a busy family was stressful sometimes, being alone would have led to complete isolation. Even though we are drained by social contact, we still need it.
12) We Are Thinkers
For every sentence an introvert speaks, they have thought a full page (or more!). We are comfortable in our own minds and spend quite a bit of time thinking, analyzing and problem solving before we ever share our conclusions. This trait can also lead to depression when the introvert ruminates without any outside correction or perspective.