It's been hard for my spouse, my friends and some members of my family to understand but there are times when being around too many people where I have to make or listen to conversation for too long makes me shut down. I'm sociable, likeable, easy to get along with. I'm not afraid of crowds and I like people watching (the writer in me). But when I'm at work or at a family function or on a trip with a lot of people that I'm acquainted with, I can't handle a lot of talking and noise. Often, having to make chit chat and pretend I'm interested in what someone is telling me feels like an immense effort and sucks the life out of me.
I first noticed it about 5 years ago after a mentally overwhelming separation and divorce but looking back, I've always been a bit of an introvert. I was shy and quiet as a child. But I have grown out of that. I don't consider myself shy - I just find that forcing myself to socialize with a large group of people that I know very tiring. Sometimes I've described it as having to put on a show or a mask because I can't be myself and it's very tiring.
I haven't had a lot of time to myself recently. My new mate is very social and so is his family. His family is large and I've met many cousins, uncles, nieces and nephews, grandparents - to a point where every few weeks it's someone's birthday or anniversary and we're invited. I want to cry. Being with my own family where there are more than my mom and dad attending is exhausting. I have a few good friends but each one of them wants to get together with me almost every weekend and I am at a point where I'm feeling anxiety. I work in a small office but if everyone is in, they all start talking and I can't take it. I get agitated.
I'm going away on a holiday by myself for a week and this is the first time I've been on a holiday on my own in 23 years. I'm more excited about this than any holiday in the last 10. It makes me realize I need to do this more often. I need personal me time to recharge - even if it's for a weekend where I'm entirely alone. If I don't, my relationships are going to suffer.