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.
4) We All Have Our Favorite Ways to Recharge
I recharge through my workouts, reading and yoga. When the need is especially pressing, I try to escape to the woods. Others may gravitate towards music, quiet time alone or knitting. Those activities are not mere hobbies; they are critical for our mental health and well-being. When time or illness encroaches on our preferred activity, we can be prone to panic as we struggle to find balance again. We usually have a safe place, a sanctuary, where we can retreat.
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. Furthermore, 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.
7) We Don’t Like the Telephone
Phone conversations often require more energy for me than face-to-face conversations. I can’t rely on body language and I have to actively work to connect when I’m physically alone. I have to reach deeper to summon the extrovert guise and be more cognizant throughout. It’s tiring. Whenever possible, I prefer to communicate in writing, where I have the solitude and space to think without using up energy on the social interaction.
8) We Can Struggle With Names and Faces
You know those paintings where the defined faces in the foreground turn into a blur as the subjects move further back in the composition? Well, that’s pretty much how I see the world. There are the defined faces of everyone I know and the others blur. Not because I don’t care, but because I become overwhelmed. I struggle with remembering faces and names of people as they move from the undefined “stranger” into acquaintance.