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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 51-55, F 56 Responses May 4, 2009

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

I'm an introvert with extroverted moments. I had to figure out myself before others could.

We used to say yes but didn't want to, then learnt to say no till we did.

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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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? ;-)