I am an introvert. Not to be confused with an invertebrate, which is a creature without a backbone. I have a very nice backbone, thank you, and I’m perfectly capable of standing up for myself.
When I tell most people that I am an introvert, they assume that I’m shy or socially anxious. While I do have some social anxiety in certain situations, I am not shy. If I know you and am comfortable with you, then the door opens, and my wacky, often inappropriate sense of humor walks right through.
Being an introvert isn’t a choice, it’s who I am, who I’ve always been. For years, I didn’t know there was a name for what I felt, and I thought there was something wrong with me. Others thought the same thing and often called me snobby or standoffish. I did not make or keep friends easily. I was hard on myself because I didn’t understand who I was.
I still don’t make or keep friends easily but because I know and accept myself ( and yes, even like myself) that fact no longer bothers me. I know now that large groups of people, people I’m meeting for the first time, or even people-ing with anyone for extended periods exhaust me. Loud music, overbearing (loud) people or even excess small talk is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. It’s both a mental and physical exhaustion, and I have to take a time out to recover.
All introverts generally need time alone to recharge. Having that alone time is vital for me; Give me quiet time with my thoughts, maybe with soft music playing, and I can feel my battery recharging.
For me, the key to people-ing as an introvert is finding those people who will accept me for who I am. People who will understand when I say “no” to a social invitation, or spend time at a gathering off in the corner, petting the dog or cat. People who will understand when my people meter is full, and I say a hasty goodnight.
I have to admit, it’s much easier being an introvert now that I’m retired from work. I get to choose who I’ll interact with rather than my job dictating those obligations. Now, if I smile at you or invite you through the door, I mean it.
I’ve joked that I should have something similar to a beach flag system on my home to indicate how my introvert seas are faring. A green flag would mean “welcome,” yellow would be “potential introvert responses” and a red flag would warn “Danger! Do not approach”. What potential introvert responses, you ask? I may not answer the door even though I know you know I’m in there.. ( this is when that backbone thing comes in, I’m standing up for myself and what I need).
I don’t dislike people nor am I snobby. There are people I genuinely love and others I really like and enjoy spending time people-ing with them. I’m choosy out of necessity, and I know myself well enough to save what I have to give for those times when I choose to interact and have fun.
It’s ok to be an introvert. If you know and accept yourself, there is no need to make excuses. The words “no, thank you” are a complete answer to invitations and/or expectations others might have.
Like Popeye, I am what I am. I’m an introvert, and I’m good with that.
If you’re an introvert, learn the word “no,” embrace your personality and find others who will too.