Screening Calls: the Privilege of An Introvert

I am an introvert who has come to self-acceptance.  In my twenties, I used to force myself to be social because I thought my desire to be alone came from an unhealthy place--you know, like depression or "wanting to isolate to avoid something."  I was fortunate enough in my late twenties to have a therapist that asked "Why do you go to parties you don't want to got to?  Why do you spend time with people who drain you?"  He encouraged me to try living alone (rather than with roommates) if I could afford to, to find out what would happen.

I did and I loved it.  I felt my energy expand to fill my surroundings, rather than shrinking to accommodate them.  As I came to accept my introversion more, I actually had more social energy for the people who I chose to let in, who I didn't find draining to be around.  I came to trust my need to recharge with some time alone.  It actually meant spending more time alone in the beginning, like I had to make up for all the time that I didn't let myself spend enough time alone.

While we live in a culture that over-values extroversion, the world needs both extroverts and introverts.  When an introvert accepts him or herself, it is possible to emerge form the cave with a fresh perspective to share that is a needed one.   There is a lot of creative energy associated with introversion.

So, fellow introverts, give yourself permission to spend time alone, screen those phone calls.  Your friends that get you will understand.  The ones who don't may need to fall by the wayside or reexamine their expectations of you.  But don't forget, it is still important to find a way to communicate your needs to those close to you.  With self-acceptance, it is easier to do this with grace rather than resentment.



EvesHarvest EvesHarvest
56-60, F
53 Responses May 4, 2009

:) same path towards realisation as to what i wanted..

BlueGiraffe, thank you for putting into words the guilt bind you were in being an introvert (without knowing it or understanding it) and a mother. I'm sure many introverts who are also parents can relate!

I am 36 and just discovering the term "introvert" and all that it means outside of living with it in my head, by myself, for all these years. I have spent all my life feeling like there was something wrong with me. Along with all the "being social" issues that are typical to introversion, I have another that I haven't seen anyone mention. I have 4 children and I home-school them. After interacting and mothering all day, by 6 or 7 at night I could barely keep it together to get them all snacks, ready for and put into bed. This made me feel like a horrible mother! I'd think "What is wrong with me?! The kids aren't being bad, why am I so anxious to be away from them?!" I see now it is because I am an introvert! There was a short period in our life where my kids had soccer/football practice, and so my husband would take all 4 children and I'd have a couple of hours to myself to do dishes and make a snack for everyone. I was cheerful putting them in bed and listening to them chattering on about there practices and time spent with their Daddy. I see now that I needed that time and it is important to communicate this to my husband and not be resentful that he didn't continue this. (He is, as you can probably guess, an extrovert) I appreciate what you said, "With self-acceptance it is easier to do this [communicate my needs] with grace rather than resentment." That is so true! Now I don't feel like I am being a terrible mother or that I really need to practice more patience or quit being so selfish and I see that I am benefiting my children by having a "brain break". I've actually found some examples from other peoples writing that I can show my husband and say "See?? This is how I feel!!" I've never been able to put it into words, I've always thought it sounded so selfish and I never wanted it to, because I really do care about and love people! Especially my family! Thanks to you and all my fellow introverts for speaking up!

Guysam, so glad to inspire.

Regarding your response to Keeva, I most definitely have let my extroverted husband be the battering ram, that is a good way of putting it. I get the chance to be quiet if I want to, or niter into something more intimate and interesting if I want to.

"I felt my energy expand to fill my surroundings, rather than shrinking to accommodate them."

This is inspiring.

Wow, this is one of the first things I wrote when I joined ep. It is really nice for me to see that my words have reached and helped others.

So much wisdon you obtained in accepting yourself. I wish to follow the footsteps on which you trod. I really loved your advice. I have come a long way in accepting the introvert in me. What makes life hard, my husband the extrovert. He loves a crowd while I look for someplace to hide

You could use him as your shelter, like a battering ram opening your way across the crowd, letting you chose whom to speak as he draws the crowd's attention away from you. I did this sometimes in previous relationships, although yes, the draining effect is still there if I stay long hours around people.

Good for you! Sounds like an interesting book.

Read the book "Quiet". It explains exactly why we are and why that's not only okay, but how it's a strength in so many aspects of our lives. I always thought I was just anti-social, a product of a broken household. I wasn't like others who always wanted to be somewhere with other people. I'm not only very accepting of my introverted ways, I am really quite happy with them. Stop fighting who you are, embrace it. Introverts are thinkers, not gabbers and I "think" that makes me better :)

Wow, it's nice to see so many introverts discovering and accepting who they are.

Remember you DON'T have to answer your phone or a knock at your door. These are YOUR rights as a person.:)

I'm an introvert too, and very happy to be one. I LOVE being alone. Being around other people and having to talk to them is so draining. I do not enjoy it at all. Like many others said, I can 'fake' it for a short while, but honestly I do not feel like doing that anymore. For so many years and even nowdays I have been led to believe something is 'wrong' with me and that I have to change and be more outgoing. Forget it, my life is not going to be wasted trying to please extroverts. Instead I just want to be left alone and be who I am.

You're amazing!!

Inspiring introverts! Love your self acceptance..this is who I is fine. Taking time to be alone is a gift we can give ourselves. I could relate to many of the introverts who shared. I too like being with people - sometimes! Sometimes just knowing other people need to screen their calls, limit parties, need alone time to recharge..empowers me to keep doing what works.

I was like an extrovert 14 yrs ago but i got sober and found myself.I'm who I really am.I have been hurt alot by people,alcohol,feelings,relationships.i will not open up to to certain people or be out hurt is deeply ingraved.It doesnt stop me from being happy.I'm sensetive to being hurt and gossip,but this is due to past and coming into reality.I sort of like protect myself.Its like ah no one is going to know about me,these days im just an introvert that is well behaved and keeps to herself.I cannot do and be what people want me to be.Alot of the time I dont even want to talk.There ant alot to talk about in my world.Me and my kids live and get on with a decent life.I ant interested in what other people do,its not really that much different or it bad stuff.If i do talk about certain people it people that i resent and they come in my head,I allow it to drive me crazy.I do hate it but i think I havent got rid of the anger inside.

hi,yea im an introvert,i have a peaceful mind alot of the time and as a child i at a olace where i'm wiser,aware,matured and changed.i have no interest in the outside world.its all the same.ive been there before.I enjoy being in peaceful quite real living.being true and honest with myself.introvert is me and i cannot lie to myself.i need to not be so concerned about what other people i no think.i'm trying not to care what people think.

It's to bad you had to be punished for what sounds to be your sister's issue. Glad to hear you are past that now, and with a spouse who gets it.

Thank you very much. I sometimes refer to what I dealt with as Forced Socialization, being forced to be around people I didn't care much for at activities I didn't care much for. I should be allowed to socialize at the level I choose to be, in the way I choose to be. It shouldn't be held against me that my socialization doesn't need to involve crowds, alcohol, and people acting foolish and doesn't have to be every weekend.

I am somewhat introverted as well. I'm not into parties and gatherings where there are a lot of people acting crazy, getting drunk, etc. When I want to go somewhere, I prefer a smaller gathering at a quieter activity. <br />
When I lived with my parents and sister, they'd often pressure me to go everywhere my sister wanted me to go with her because they thought I stayed in too much. They even threatened to have me institutionalized for staying in too much because they said if I didn't go out enough, I'd end up "warped." I got dragged to football games, parties, parades, and all sorts of other events I had no interest in. My sister even accepted invitations for me without consulting me, with our parents backing her up saying "you need to go out more."<br />
My sister moved out and all of that stopped and my parents let me be, but then she moved back in and it started up all over again. She moved out again and I was let alone again.<br />
I was glad when I could finally afford my own place. I liked having my own apartment because I could be inside of it anytime I wanted to and nobody would say anything about it. I'm married now and we have a house, and she is kind of like me, doesn't like to go out much, and it works find for us.

Glad you liked it, UniversalSelf. <br />
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Other comment has been flagged as spam.

This speaks volumes to me and helped me understand a bit of myself more (: THX!

Better late than never! It is helpful to read about your type as a different way of being in and experiencing the world rather than some sort of pathology from an extroverted point of view.

Pepper85 and freeangelinpeace, thank you for your comments. Freeangelinpeace, that is just how I feel. Time with good friends: stimulating. Time with acquaintances: can be somewhat pleasant but is draining.

beautifully said!

Thank you for posting this!! It was an excellent read that I enjoyed very much as I come from the same standpoint. I care very much for my valued group of friends who are genuinely good people. I used to have a great deal of trouble and guilt cutting others from my life...feeling like I was being irrational or something. Really though, what it comes down to is differentiating between who is good for you, who is not and embracing the responsiblity of taking care of oneself. I absolutely adore spending time in my own company but I do also enjoy spending time with good friends...time with simple acquaintances that I do not trust however is much more difficult...just my thoughts.

Bubble51, I would imagine having ADHD adds another la<x>yer. It is good that you have a partner that accepts you and where it works for each of you to do your own thing.<br />
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Maybe when people make suggestions on how to be more extraverted, we introverts should be ready with suggestions on how to be more introverted.

I am an introvert as well. When people discover that I just do not like being in groups or alot of people they all have suggestions in how to be an extrovert. I dont like being an extrovert. I like being by myself and doing what I want to do by myself. I hate going to parties, it is so draining to me. I am in college and it is difficult when we have group projects. I hate it so bad. I have always been this way since I was a kid. I had one friend and still have her as my friend today after all these years. I have a boyfriend and he likes being around people but he knows I don't. Most of the time I spend my time in my bedroom alone. Sometimes I feel guilty and join him in the living room for chat time but I am always anxious to get back to my room. When I tell my family I am thinking about going on vacation by myself, they have trouble with that. I don't like being hounded to do things I dont want to do. All I want to do is to lay on the beach and soak up the sun. My boyfriend likes to do other things like hunting. It really works out well cause he can go hunting and do his thing, and I can do my thing. We also have animals so it much it more better to have someone at home while the other is gone. Maybe I am just selfish, but I really enjoy my own company. Am I too strange? By the way, I do have ADHD and it makes it hard to focus on things and conversations.

I agree that being an introvert is not the shame as being shy. I don't think I would describe myself as either an introvert or extrovert ... I think I'm somewhere in the middle and I can be either ... and it is a choice, for me anyhow.

Catat-I'll bet it was an introvert that came up with peepholes! BTW, introverts are not necessarily shy, they can be the life of the party, but they can get drained by too much contact, especially small talk.<br />
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Slumdog, there are people I can't stand talking to, but sometimes I am also just not in the mood to talk to anyone!

I just found out that I'm an introvert. All this time I thought that I was shy, and that I'd grow out of it. And I have to an extent (to work, something has to give). But as soon as I stopped working, I stopped finding reasons to be around people - just the opposite, I find reasons to NOT be around people. And how freeing is that?<br />
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I was researching for learning styles (I write for a language site) and stumbled across the personality tests. I've taken them before, but when I was heavily involved in being gregarious so the answers were skewed. I now feel that I answered them how I felt I was supposed to be (how everyone kept telling me I should be), not how I really was. These days, I keep coming up with introverted. <br />
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But overall, I'm an extroverted introvert. I can sometimes be the life of the party, but I can only take people so long before I'm done. And my preferences is to not attend parties at all. I can be quite chatty, but when I'm done I'm looking for the exit. I shy away from spending time in large groups, but I enjoy going out for the day with those who are happy to let me sink into myself when I need to. <br />
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And I've always screened calls. Especially in the evening and weekends. I resent someone telling me that I have to pick up the phone and talk when I don't feel like it. <br />
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What is the difference between answering the phone and someone dropping by unannounced?<br />
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I do the same if someone comes over without making arrangements with me first. I'm fairly positive that introverts came up with peek holes in front doors, so why shouldn't us introverts put them to good use? ;-)

Some people are a mix of introverted and extroverted, but lean more to one side. I wonder if that might not be the case with you, socalman.

Glad to hear you came to self-acceptance, WhenTheWallsFall. It makes a huge difference, doesn't it?<br />
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Otherself, you have the right idea. When Jung came up with his theory about introversion and extroversion, the idea was that they are different, not that one or the other is better. Being able to accept individual differences is a sign of maturity, regardless of whether you are an introvert or an extrovert.

From what I have seen, Flans doesn't have an interest in having a better understanding of what introversion is. I think he is just evacuating something from his psyche anywhere he can. But it doesn't seem to get rid for him.<br />
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Therapy, Flans?

Extroversion is nature's preferred choice is i? Gah!!!!!!!!<br />
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I have an idea, Flans. How about starting your own extrovert group! This is getting old.

Vive La Différence! There is room for lots of different kinds of people in the world, and it makes it must more interesting.

I am an introvert who has come to accept myself as an introvert, and indeed, on my good days, celebrate it! As you say, a lot of creativity comes from introversion. I find the ideas of Carl Jung fascinating with types and archytypes, the laws of attraction and how we complement each other.<br />
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You really have quite the ax to grind, Flans. There really isn't any room for a dialogue with you. You are just venting your spleen. Move on.

Perhaps you have narcissistic introverted friends and are judging everyone by them.

Flans, you have obviously had an unpleasant personal experience with someone introverted. I have never seen anyone else come in to this group to bash introverts. I think you are projecting all over us.<br />
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In this modern day world with cell phones, everyone has the right to screen calls. Do we really need to be available 24/7 to answer the phone to anyone who happens to call? I don't happen to think so.

Okay, it sounds like you don't like introverts, and that you don't particularly understand them, Flans.

@ Flans--I'm glad that the rest of us that have posted on this have empathy for other humans, don't expect everyone else to be exactly like us, and don't impose our values on other people.

Oh, I am not like your niece, Thinker. Visual processing of language and visual-spatial processing are different aptitudes. My visual-spatial processing is not good at all. I have to translate a map into verbal directions. My husband has an exceptional internal GPS, but does not have a good sense of time. I tend to know what time it is, while he tends to know where we are at on the planet,. Between the two of us, we can mange to get somewhere on time, usually.

now I realise why Skype-ing is easier for me when I turn the camera on<br />
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You are unusual for a girl. Only my niece is like this. She just knows where she is on the map. I remember when she was nine, her parents were quite confident in the car, when she suddenly spoke up "dad you are going the wrong way". Beforhand, I only showed her the map for a few seconds. She was in the middle of a city she did not know, where people spoke a language she did not understand. Yet, she was right, while her parents were both lost. She's the daughter of my wife's brother, but she must have inherited the sense of orientation from me -:)

In fact, I am more visually oriented. Throughout my school and college years, I did better following if I had something in front of me to look at. I think my visual processing is much better than my auditory processing. Thank you, I had not really made the connection with how drained I get with the phone. Not having a person to look at to go along with the words, I think I have to really work at it.

"I get really drained by talking on the phone "<br />
Eve - could it be you are more visual than auditive ? Like me, who don't like to drive under the guiding voice of a GPS. I just cannot follow. Having to follow the linear progress of a voice interferes with my own thoughts which run backwards and forwards all the time. For most of my life, having a phone call was a chore for me (it is more typical for men, we got more spacial thinking). Only recently, I fell into the habit of hour-ling Skype conversations. I talk with people I knew for 40 years, but it is always them who initiate.

I have been able to limit the amount of time that I socialize, but it has been harder to limit the amount of time I spend on the phone. I get really drained by talking on the phone. I don't answer the phone most of the time. It is a chore.

Yes Yes Yes....exhaustion is the word. Parties, get togethers are the death of me! All over my newly created profile is how unhappy i have been today (and the last month or so) because I am trying to be more extroverted or angry because I am not. I have taken the Myers Briggs and I am an INFJ. I took it 7 years ago, also an INFJ. Just wanted to share my 2 cents!

im very taken by your story im 24 and always battle against myself and am unable 2 make sense of my thoughts i have only just come across the theory that i might be introverted and am undoubtably that its just hurting my head so much cause as you said in your story you used to force yourself into being social and thinking it came from other places im very much in that place and have been for a very long time but all i ever achieve is so much dicomfort and anxiety which brings out so many other trates that force me to hide away from the world which is the only place i feel comfortfortable but still get so much distress if not more lost in my thoughts and hating being like this not being able to fit in anywhere or having any purpose in life now i know what the problem is i dont know what to do with it or how to find peace and exeptance in it but your story has given me a bit of faith that 1 day i may find peace with myself as you seem 2 have i guess i just need to find the key to accepting it instead of fighting it sorry if ive waffled on ive literally just discovered this and im overwhelmed with confusion and emotions

I'm an introvert, but unfortunately, I've spent more time alone than I wanted. In my life, I had similar periods to what you describe: I accepted my loneliness, and filled my own space. <br />
My son talks a lot, almost like a chatterbox. Rather surprising from a tall, sporty mathematician. He has an intensive social life, with parties and invitations 2-3 times a week. Yet, he is an introvert who craves a bit of loneliness as well. He is now moving to New York, that city of "lonely hearts band".

I married an extrovert, not an "uber extrovert," but an extrovert just the same. He has an unusually large core group of intimate friends, which impressed me when we were dating. Some of his friends would be uber extroverts. After we moved in together, there was an adjustment period, and some of his friends thought I didn't like them. But over time they came to accept my introversion, and know that I'm much better company if I'm not pushed. I think self-acceptance helps others to accept it. Though friends who have known you when you were pushing yourself to conform to an external standard of the "right amount" of social interaction might have more difficulty making the adjustment. <br />
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And, hey, I just thought of something. I wonder if introverts over-all are leaving less of a carbon footprint because we aren't pushing ourselves to get into our cars and socialize more. Just a thought. I'll try not to make the mistake of elevating introverts to the superior moral position over extroverts, even if the reverse has been more common.

Very inspiring and upbeat take on introversion. It is easy enough to slip into a clinical state too so mindsets like this are important to develop early.

We all walk around with very different sensory filters and experiences. I'm sure you have seen how different each of your children's temperaments are in a variety of ways.

I come from a long line of extroverts. And I mean uber extroverts. Then came my 3rd child. She always preferred to play alone or at most, with one other friend. I tried pushing her a bit at when she was 4 or 5 because I felt bad for her spending so much time alone. Alone equaled lonely to me. I had to ask myself why I would feel bad about something that obviously made her feel good. I love how you said "I felt my energy expand to fill my surroundings, rather than shrinking to accommodate them." That very much fits my daughter.

Well said.