Thursday, May 25, 2006

I am an Introvert

"I'm an introvert. You are a wonderful person and I like you. But now please shush." That was my favorite quotation from this article about introversion. Some of you may be surprised that I think myself an introvert, though I suppose that most would say "well duh..."

A good way to know if you're introverted, the article mentions, is whether interacting with other people energizes you, or whether you need to "recharge" after being with people. I definitely need a recharge. I used to worry that maybe I just didn't like people in general, but I realized that I love people- in fact I can get quite lonely. I just need my daily alone time. Lots of it. And the more extroverted the other person is, the more quickly I get tired and need to get away from them- hence the quotation above. Some of you may remember my old roomate Josh. I love Josh. He's a great guy. He's also the most extroverted person that I know, a dynamo around other people whose mouth approaches mach 4. I remember getting home from tutoring in the physics lab, just hoping for a little rest and alone time to recharge my social battery, and he would find me on the couch and procede to hold long conversations consisting of a lot of him talking, and a lot of me nodding. There were many converasations where I literally did not say one word. It was almost claustrophobic being around him. My brother in law is very similar, though in that situation its a little different since I am visiting them and have prepared myself for the visit and know that when its all over I can go back to my own space to recharge.

Many people mistake introversion for dislike of humanity or just plain rudeness. Sometimes I get into one of my recharging states, and yet still have to be around people. I have a certain family member who whenever she sees me in one of my recharging states always wonders what the matter is. "Are you all right?" she asks. "Oh I'm fine, just tired" which is only semi-lying since I am just tired socially. Luckily Jenny realized what this was early on and just accepted that I would need time to myself during the day, or if we were together, to not take my silence as an indicator of my opinion of her.

The more I've thought about this, the more I've wondered if my friends have ever noticed, since I'm usually fine when I'm actually hanging out with people, its just afterwards that I need to recharge, and if I haven't fully recharged, then I usually won't go out into public. Then I wonder if my friends are like this as well, since I wouldn't necessarily know about it for the same reason above.

Sometimes, though, disaster strikes- when we have a planned dinner or game night with another couple, and then the appointed night comes and.....uh oh, my battery is low, but we have to go anyway and I am forced to endure...gasp, people talking! sometimes directly at ME!!! I always worry that they'll take my non-wordiness the wrong way and get offended, but we always seem to be invited back.


randy said...

Ah, confessions of an introvert. I, being somewhat of an introvert myself, was amazed at how well I related to Nick's description of introvertedness (I'm not sure what he borrowed from the article since I didn't read it). I think this explains a lot of why Nick was able to put up with me, and actually invited me back to his home on occasion. Introverts can get along great if their recharging schedules coincide. However, beware of the inverted recharging, which has the potential to resonate. I think Nick and I experienced this at least a few times during our interaction. I remember a few times after Nick and Jenny had gotten married. I was visiting them and was in somewhat of a pissy mood. I could tell Nick was trying to recharge somewhat and I took advantage of it, see which buttons did what. We ended being friends through it all, so I suppose the results aren't too catastrophic.

How can an introverted person respond to someone that doesn't understand their need to recharge so as not to cause offense? Unfortunately, this is somewhat of being between a rock and a hard place because during recharging sessions, verbal clarity and tact are somewhat lacking, at least for me.

Another topic to bring up with this is how computers have the potential to compound introvertedness. Computers don't try to hold conversations with you. They don't tend to ramble on about the specific details of who said what or why this person did that. They simple do what you make them do. And I suppose that is perfect for a recharging session, as perhaps we just need to recharge from the fact that we can't just control everyone around us. (Okay, so that's probably not true at all, but it makes a good end to my comment.)

Nick said...

One of the worst things about my battery recharging is when we're on vacation and staying in someone elses house. When I don't have my own sanctuary to go do, whether its my garden, our bedroom or our office, then I don't have a place to recharge and I can get testy. Thats why I've always needed a vacation from our long vacations to Seattle in the Summer- the vacation always wears me down and I get really antsy to get back home.

Jenny said...

I think we get invited back because they take pity on me and my "marriage as a vow of silence" lifestyle. (Kidding, of course. They invite us back because we tend to bring good desserts :)

I remember the conversation when we were dating where Nick asked if I was ok not talking all the time that we were together. I remember thinking that it was a bit odd, but fine. And looking back now, for the most part, it still is (both odd and fine). I'm prone to RAVOTS (rapid and vapid overtalking syndrome) in social situations--an extrovert in the sense that conversations tend to energize me--and yet there's a part of me that wants everyone in the world to go away so I can just read my books. My parents spent a good deal of my childhood trying to get my nose out of my books and have me interact with other people, and I still tend to feel almost guilty if I'm in a group and not engaged in an interesting conversation. I think I Nick I saw someone who was ok with his introverted side and that was appealing. Because when the conversations do happen, they tend to be interesting, well-thought out, and engaging. (Of course, to get in my daily female words quotient (you know, how women are supposed to need 7000 words a day and men only 2000 or something like that (ooo, embedded parenthesis)) I do rely heavily on several good friends.)

The only part I find difficult is trying to convince the rest of my family (as well as Nick's at times) that Nick isn't upset or depressed or anything negative--that he's just recharging. My family tend to be talkers who gather together just to chat for hours and hours on end. Poor man. (Ok, I'm done here. The length of this comment is sufficient testament to the fact that my early introversion has been squashed.)

Jenny said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
JonnyF said...

This reminds me of my last missionary companion. The first night after I was transferred to his area, he told me something to the effect of, "Just so you know, I'm not mad at you. It's just the way my face is. I have a permascowl." Apparently he had had to deal with many misunderstandings in his life when people thought he was mad at them but he really wasn't, most recently with his previous companion.
I too have a tendency to be introverted. It was amazing to me how accurate the article Nick linked to described what I often think and feel. And I love Calvin Coolidge quotations.
Katie is more of an extrovert. This can cause clashes; and the situation is compounded right now because she is staying home with Elizabeth. On the weekends, I want to rest by, um, resting. Katie would rather recharge by going to do things.
I don't know if this is part of introversion, but I often will avoid or exit a conversation because I am simply not interested (and don't want to be) in the current topic of conversation. Conversations about, say, "American Idol" or most conversations about sports or cars bore me and I'm not particularly motivated to change that about myself. In certain settings this equates to avoiding almost all conversation. This can be uncomfortable, but not so much as participating in a conversation about "Survivor" and feeling like my brain is turning to mush. See this why I avoid conversation about these subjects, I always end up saying something rude.

Golfing pirate 14 said...

I also consider myself an introvert. I do have at least one symptom of being an extrovert, that of sometimes thinking by talking. However, I don't do it near as much as my Mom or my sister Rachel (who some of you know). Sometimes I just have to sit there and daydream to wait for them to come to their point. I also sometimes can ramble on, but only to those I know really well. I have a hard time meeting new people if the environment is not right, ie lots of people around I already know. This is why I usually do not like to go to "the more the merrier" parties, I'd rather just hang with people I know.

My first reaction to extroverts, no matter how good a person they are, is usually "that person is annoying" I usually end up liking them, but it's tough to be around them a lot.

And for the record, yes, Jon does usually say something pretty rude if he doesn't exit a conversation that bores him. (a lot of the time this rude thing is also quite funny)

My favorite Calvin Coolidge story is:
Lady: President Coolidge, I bet someone I could get you to say more than two words at this dinner party.
Coolidge: You lose.