Introversion has been written about quite a bit.
I could, in all likelihood, link every single word of this blog post with a different “introvert” related piece someone has written in an attempt to get the extroverts to “get it”.
You can easily replace introversion with any given personality attribute here. Because the truth of the matter is, even though it’s pretty well known that in this world, there are somewhere near 7 billion people on the planet: people seem to think that every one of them thinks, feels, and does things, just like them. Or, that those that do not are somehow broken, wrong, or taking a giant crap on the way they think, feel, or do things.
Boy, howdy, and they struck narcissism from the DSM why?
I’m not just an introvert, though. No matter who you are, you’re not either. Being really honest, I dislike the fact that there are labels and I don’t care much for their use. I don’t feel like being me, I belong to some sacred, special club. I don’t believe this makes me better than or less than someone else. I don’t believe it does much of anything except, complicate life and make it so I feel the need to write these things out and explain myself.
I also don’t think it means that you get to tell me I am broken, or that I am somehow wrong because if I have to spend more than about two or three hours in the company of others- it’d better be pretty enchanting stuff. Beyond that, going into about, oh, four or five hours? It wouldn’t matter if I was sitting in front of a group of people revealing every secret of the Vatican, the world governments, and the Universe itself: I’d be squirming to get the heck out of there by hour five, easily. I’d wanna take the books, though, to look at on my own time. But for me, being someone’s captive audience, listening ear, butt wiper, feed bag, oh oh, I think you see where I am going with this- yep. I’m an introvert and a mother.
And I adore my kids.
This is not an issue with my middle child, because he is not even remotely close to being a morning person. So, for many, many years, I have blissfully enjoyed about 3-4 hours daily of nearly uninterrupted quiet in the mornings.
I’m an introvert, a mother, and a morning person. (Actually, if I kept on with that little theme, this would be a book, not a post- same as you. You can write “I AM” at the top of a page and go for days. Many of the things you list will be just the same as mine, I’m sure. Many will be different.
And that’s not just okay, it’s freaking awesome.
None of us need permission to be. Or justification. I cannot speak for anyone but me, nor do I. Wouldn’t dream of it.
My eldest is also a morning person, and he’s also fourteen. However, since he was about ten or so, an independent streak that began at about a mile wide, has further widened. I adore having him around in the mornings. We sort of do this thing, “‘Ello, mum. Coffee ready?”
“‘Howdy, son yes, have some-or-no, could you?”
and go on about our business. My dogs were very similar:
“LETMEOUTLETMEOUTLETMEOUTPEEEEEE!!!!” And, I would let them out, they’d go do whatever it was they needed to do, then they’d begin their day of being dogs.
My very favorite thing is watching the sun rise in the quiet stillness of the woods. The birds aren’t even awake at this point. All that is, is the silently creeping light filtering through the trees, the wind sometimes blowing, sometimes just lightly brushing- there is very little sound, maybe the soft rustling of leaves, maybe not- there is only that small span of silent moments, my coffee cup warm in my hands, the pink, the orange, the yellow fingers of light quietly flowing through the branches and leaves. I am alone and it is so good.
Every once in a great while I do share those moments with someone and that’s wonderful, too, as long as that someone gets that there is no need for the flapping of the yap. Just sit and be. Enjoy.
Those are very, very special moments to me, bordering on sacred and as such, not something I would ever want to be common.
In my own personal hierarchy of needs, solitude and silence most definitely rank somewhere just under food, water, shelter- but high, high above socialization and conversation. If I am not getting those things- I feel drained, cranky, and downright rude.
If I am not getting socialization and conversation- every now and again I might be a little lonely, but that passes fairly quickly. One thing I have noticed is that some claim to be introverts when truthfully- they just cannot bear to make the changes and compromise needed to be with others. You can spot them easily because they’re always miserable, not content with their alone-ness. They also tend to seek out things that need them. Or attempt to force people or things to need them. They have control issues, not an intrinsic love and need for solitude.
I think that many people assume this is the case for all introverts when it is not. Not even CLOSE.
I can’t speak for other actual introverts, but I can speak for myself when I say that being needed is pretty much the exact opposite of what I adore and want. I am actually something close to repulsed by the notion of dependency, of being needed or needing. The still silence of my thoughts is often good, but even better- the still silence of absolutely nothing. No thoughts. Just silence.
Here’s where the problem comes in, kids. Couple years ago, Kurt moved in with me, and I got pregnant- and I don’t know if you realize this or not- but dogs and babies are rather needy and not even close to silent.
My life pretty much got turned inside out.
It didn’t start out like that. At first, man, our relationship was perfect. He would visit, stay for days- bringing with him interesting conversation, loads of just amazing sex, quiet snuggles, walks- or he’d take me to see new and interesting things, meet truly awesome new people (Oh, yes, introverts dig that- if you think they don’t, go click some of those links.) and then…he would go away for a while. When he moved in, nothing much changed because he’s a night person, really and I am not. At this point, for us, there was very little compromise needed.
Another stunning revelation for you: Babies change everything.
You didn’t know? God, don’t have kids. Spare yourself. Don’t get dogs, either. Get a stuffed animal.
Many of my friends really took this the wrong way and continue to.
One thing I will say: while my introversion is not a bad thing, my often atrocious lack of communication skills are a incredibad, terrible, awful thing.
Rather than communicate my needs, I tend to bottle them until I get so livid they explode up and out of me like a fountain of swearing and assholery. That revulsion of being needed goes into high gear. I will blatantly ignore attempts at stealing my time, I will hide, I will run away, and I will resent anything and everything that doesn’t bring something to the table with it.
That’s not really good. Yeah, that’s another memo from Captain Obvious.
It’s a survival tool, really, but one I didn’t understand how to make a constructive thing until some time back. At first, I wasn’t communicating my needs very well with Kurt. I was trying to be Super Mom. I was trying to be Amazing Miss.
I am neither.
I was also trying desperately not to be a Big Assed Buzzkill or A Debbie Downer.
Try stifling real need and real concern for too long and you become both with a side dish of Rage Pants and your Resentment Panties will fall around your ankles and trip you down the stairs. It’s a bad scene.
Now, again- I don’t speak for everyone, but I choose how I spend my time and energy very, very parsimoniously. At least, that’s my preference.
My children come first– and no, one day I will not be guilting them for this time because it isn’t a transaction. They did not ask me to be born. Their presence in my life is a gift– and it’s something I am for the most part grateful for, even though it is taxing. They do not owe me a thing for this time or for the energy I expend, nor will they ever and I do not feel they should.
After that, my partner. After that, myself.
Anything beyond that is at my discretion- just as how you spend your time and energy is at yours. Right now, I have an infant who is wobbling his way into toddlerdom. Which means, by the time I get to my partner: my reserves are nearly tapped- and so, I tend to choose interactions where I am not only a benefit, but receive a benefit from. Not really a transaction, just a mutual give and take that isn’t wholly giving of energy I don’t have much to spare.
No one is entitled to more than that from me or from you.
A friend of mine was going through a really rough time. I’d been ranting for weeks about how tired I was of everyone NEED NEED NEED NEED NEEDING on me, meanwhile I needed to talk to someone desperately and had no one. I’d try, sure, and then get interrupted with ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME. Or the fixers. Man, I just needed to talk.
I didn’t know she was going through a rough time. I’m ashamed I didn’t know. I didn’t know because I was dealing with my own bullshit. It happens. Kelly said something that resonated so deeply and prompted an understanding of myself so well- that it stuck.
She simply said she didn’t mean to be rude, but sometimes, she wouldn’t respond right away. it wasn’t that she was ignoring me, it was because she simply had too much on her plate to engage in emotionally charged conversations until she was ready to do so.
She then apologized to me- but it was not necessary. Nice, but not necessary. I’m no more entitled to her time, her ear, or her heart than she or anyone else is to any of that of me.
Problem is, everyone thinks they are. (Even me. Especially me, sometimes.)
Anyway- to come to the point of all of this, the reason I wanted to write about it is because while I do not believe that introverts are Super Special Snowflakes- I do believe we have something big to teach you, the world that is not introverted. Something we can all share, something wonderful, and something maybe not all of us even understand about ourselves, yet.
From the most introverted among us, to the most flamboyant extrovert- no matter what other labels, no matter what else you’d put under that list when you top the page with “I AM”-
Our time is precious. However we choose to spend it. When we give it to another- it’s a gift. It’s not your right to have it. Just because I have a need, doesn’t mean it’s your responsibility to see it gets met. Just because you have a need, doesn’t mean I have to justify why I didn’t meet it right then and there.
People often speak of doing things before “it’s too late” and of spending time with others as though we’re all somehow owed it, by virtue of giving birth to someone, being birthed by someone, being friends, lovers and otherwise- but the truth is, we are owed nothing.
It’s all a gift.
Act like it.