I used to think something was seriously wrong with me.
The great conundrum of my life is while I genuinely do love and care about people, I don’t actually like to be around them all too much. I spend hours mentally preparing to spend time with people at a social event, and then need two days to recover afterward. Small talk gives me anxiety and sends me running for the closest door. I get really stressed out when events do not have an end time attached to it. My idea of a relaxing night involves sitting at home in complete silence with a good book. (Yes, I actually like to read…just for fun.) Being “on” for extended periods of time is extremely exhausting for me. James has learned to respond to my “look” I shoot him that says “my social energy is depleted and I need to get out of here AS FAST AS POSSIBLE before I enter into ‘Grumpy Katie mode.’” And no one likes Grumpy Katie.
For the longest time, I seriously thought something was wrong with me. What weirdo hosts “wall staring parties” for herself and attends faithfully at least once a week? I thought I just needed to work harder to learn to like to be around people more. When someone first suggested I might be an introvert, I was highly offended. Introverts are boring people who don’t have any friends. I HAVE FRIENDS! I’m a fun person! I can be outgoing when I want to!
The more I learned about introverts/extroverts, I learned it had less to do with your ability to be outgoing and more with how you gather energy. As much as I may like someone, I will never ever be the type that’s like “lets hang out all day long!” No. If you are at my house too long, I will have no shame in telling you it is time to go home.
After much examination, I decided the time had come to finally accept my fate and realize that I, Katie Foster, am an introvert. Not even an ambivert, the cool kids who get the best of both worlds, but a full-blown, real life introvert. I gather all of my energy from being alone. And I have learned to be content with that.
As an introvert striving for self-awareness, there are two main things I have learned that I believe will be helpful for my fellow introverts out there:
1. Learn what recharges you, and do it.
If you’re a true introvert, being around people for long periods of time will exhaust you. There is nothing wrong with that! There are few things more frustrating then forcing yourself to live in a cycle where you are always feel burnt out and aren’t sure why. Some people recharge by shopping (ew), cooking (I wish) or watching TV/movies. For me, I recharge by reading, going on long walks by myself, listening to podcasts, cleaning everything in sight, and my personal favorite, napping. 🙂 Learn yourself and find out what gives you energy, and make time every week (or day!) to intentionally do those things. You’ll be better for it.
2. Force yourself to be in community.
This can be challenging because you like to spend time alone. For introverts, myself included, there is a huge temptation to isolate because that’s what comes naturally. It is easier to be by yourself because you enjoy being by yourself. But God created all humans for community, even introverted humans, so I promise it is good for you. It is so good to intentionally be around other people and have people know you. The great thing about introverts is they typically have a huge aversion for small talk, so it is easier to establish real, meaningful friendships. Even if you have to give yourself a continual pep talk into pursuing authentic community with other people, it will be well worth it. 🙂
Through learning to understand myself and how I operate, I no longer try to force myself into being an extrovert when I’m really just not one. I like to think of myself as a “socially adept introvert”, meaning that if you let me have my alone time, I will be able to store up my social energy to be on my best behavior and the most fun possible when it is time to be around people.
And let’s be honest, we all know introverts rule the world.
Until next time,