Pause and Reflect – Introversion during the Holidays
While I know recently I’ve committed to more graphics for a post, and more integrated videos to drive home my point of the article, because of the holiday (and sheer lack of time due to retail management/kids), I’ve stuck with a more personal approach to this blog post. Setting time aside for the title card was hard enough!
So – I am currently working on an eSports series, but Thanksgiving has triggered an opportunity for me to write about something a bit more personal – truly close to me, and that is namely what it’s like to be an introvert around the holidays, and how it is literally physically exhausting for me to be around other people in general, let alone people I don’t even know. Part of introversion is how taxing it is to socially interact with other individuals. During the holidays this scenario peaks in a crescendo, and often leaves someone like me feeling overwhelmed.
Let’s revisit “introversion” a second, before I try to talk about it. For the un-initiated, an introvert is someone who is dominantly focused on inward thinking, feelings, and moods – voluntarily choosing not to seek external stimulation for those subjects. It is not unusual to be an introvert – in fact a lot of introverts are actually skilled at being socially involved, but a lot of people like me, willingly choose not to do so.
Introversion is not a disorder, it is a personality type – often it is confused for shyness, or even social phobia, but rest assured, introverts just choose not to socially interact with others. Extroverts gain energy and momentum through social interaction, it literally charges their batteries, excites them – while for someone like me, a conversation with someone I don’t know, tugs on my energy levels, and oftentimes can leave me feeling drained.
It brings on the interesting question I was asked in the car ride home – and this is fairly personal but I believe it’s a perfect catalyst for this conversation I’m having with you (the reader). “You don’t have to come (to Thanksgiving) if it taxes you the way it does.” – at which point I respond, “It’s perfectly okay, I’m fine, I just enjoy my alone time, and am perfectly fine being with your family at Thanksgiving, you just have to understand I don’t enjoy socializing like a lot of others would.”
You see, just because I’m an introvert, doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy being around others, I truly do enjoy it, but there’s a saying for introverts, that I hope would put this scenario into a bit of a retrospect for you, “An introvert feels lonelier in a crowd of people, than by themselves, in their own solitude.” A good time to me, or to most introverts, is quiet time to yourself, entertained by your own hobbies or interests. I have zero desire to be the center of attention, nor do I feel positive reinforcement through social engagements. I often feel drained, or exhausted being around, or socializing with other people. Another mildly hilarious thing, is as an introvert I have a loud inner monologue that never really shuts up – it is constantly providing input on every situation going on around me, and when you’re surrounded by a large amount of people, this monologue generally gets stifled out – this causes me to feel disconnected from myself, like I’m missing a part of what makes me, “Me”.
Another mistaken aspect of being an introvert is our timidness. I’m not timid at all. A major draw on our personality trait, is I like to overthink, and choose my words carefully, reclusing away from chit-chat. If you are able to engage me in a meaningful, non-small talk conversation, you may come to find a robust, well-engaged talk. You would be shocked to know, I don’t mind talking to people at all, but I often disengage out of small-talk conversations quickly, as they are especially taxing on me. I can be a bit intense with a good conversation – but if you ask me how my day is, you will probably get a sidebarred answer. Introverts are more prone to talk about the meaning of life, then what their favorite color is.
In a large social environment, oftentimes I will find myself harried, for no reason at all. Every person has energy, a battery so to speak, and we all recharge it through various means. I’ve mentioned it before, feeling drained, gaining energy, etc – but let’s be real here, everyone is like this. Introverts and Extroverts function in ways that alter how you go about feeling “charged”. An extrovert at a social gathering is literally bristling with with positive energy, reaching high levels of vigor that a pro-athlete would feel during a touchdown. The mere social interaction with high volumes of people feed into their internal battery, causing their dopamine levels to fly off the charts. Introverts are the exact opposite, this same scenario would leave someone like me feeling empty, hollow, drained, almost to the point of sheer exhaustion.
You will often see someone like me, sitting at a dinner table, or maybe by chance, at some form of social interaction, quietly observing a conversation. It may seem like we don’t care, or we’re ‘zoned out’, but in reality, we are dissecting every second of the conversation, building a thought process of answers, or engagements that we would like to introduce. However an introvert’s opinion is often kept to themselves, as we do no not like to impose ourselves onto others. Have you ever seen the person at holidays, that people are constantly asking, “What do you think?” – that is generally your introvert – you usually have to force them speak up about a subject.
Part of the problem of being introverted is how extroverts or, average people see us. Generally people think something is wrong with us, but we are just wired differently. Have you ever been told to not pretend to be something you are not? Introversion is a personality trait, and for someone like me to pretend to be a social butterfly, would just be me pretending to be something I’m not, and when you do something like that, you lose a part of yourself along the way. In turn I’ve chosen to just embrace what I really am, to stay true, genuine to myself, and have a positive life experience.
So the next time you’re at a social gathering, holiday meet-up, family experience, or anything really – and you see the quiet person sitting in the room by themselves, or off doing their own thing, away from the group of people – don’t write them off as awkward, or unusual – be understanding, respect their personal decisions, or think of an engaging conversation to have with them. But -respect- is the most important aspect here, if they wanted to be a part of the more social activities they would choose to do it. Support them, don’t alienate them. Try to understand them, and I hope this blog post helps you do that.
Until next time,