You Only Have to Get Through Today

May 1, 2011. 2:55 A.M.

It’s almost 3 A.M. on a Sunday morning. I don’t even have to go to work tomorrow, but already the week is looming before me like a giant, energy sapping, anxiety inducing vacuum.

I think it’s possible that, just like the seasons, we cycle through our years, and this is the time of year, for me, when the pressure is on, creativity is at low ebb, and I begin to feel unsure if I can handle everything that is on my plate.

The other night I wrote about my inability to deal with people in general, at times, and I was hoping that my perspective would lighten up a bit by now, so that I could address the negative effects of introversion in a more balanced frame of mind. I’ve spent my weekend so far, however, participating in planned activities with fairly large groups of people, some of whom I’ve never met before. This is what I call an “introvert’s nightmare,” and more is planned for tomorrow. I think I’m going to have to skip it.

Not being an extrovert, it’s difficult for me to comprehend how anyone could enjoy leaving work on Friday, participating in one event after another on a busy weekend, and then going back for a full week of work on Monday. I know that the very idea is partly what is keeping me awake tonight. This morning.

Complicating matters further is the fact that I have been a peace keeping people pleaser all of my life, and, up until a few years ago, quite unaware that introversion meant anything other than “shy”, or that I was one. Years of living my life the way other people would like me to live it are beginning to wear me down. I used to be able to handle one obligation after another and hit the ground running every morning. Now I’m finding it absolutely necessary to learn how to say “No.” In my anxiety and fatigue I often become angry when the next inevitable, yet somehow unexpected, request comes my way. The next step in the learning process, therefore, is to consciously realize that all I have to do is say “No,” and leave it at that.

Now, expending energy in the process of helping and serving others is not a bad thing. You just have to know where to draw the line. Now that i’m finally drawing one, though, it’s accompanied by plenty of guilt. And, I’m reaching an age when, after years of putting on an act I didn’t even realize was an act I’m reaching a tipping point. There are times when, instead of making polite conversation I need to excuse myself, go home and hide myself away like Henry David Rivera. Well alright, it’s not quite that bad, but sometimes a remote cabin in the woods sounds real good.

This isn’t a clear, step by step explanation of the chracteristics of the introverted personality. (In fact, at this hour, it’s more like stream of consciousness writing.) I hope it gives a general picture though, and also a statement that this is a definite personality type. Introverts worry that other people think they’re anti-social or snobby, or that individuals will think that the introvert doesn’t like or care about them. We also tend to believe that there’s something wrong with us, because we don’t have many firends who know us well, can’t handle more than one or two people at a time, and hate parties, phone calls, casual conversation and interruptions. We actually begin to believe that, because we do it differently, we really don’t care much about other people. (That definitely is not true.)

Introverts need to click with another person in order to establish a relationship. Because introverts and extroverts are so different, and because the majority of the population is extroverted, the click doesn’t happen all that often. I know I’m repeating myself now, but this is why blogging is so appealing to me. I write in solitude. I put it out there, and the people with whom it clicks will respond. Then I get to have a one on one communication with each person who responds, at an unpressured, untimed cyber kitchen table. It’s not making conversation, which is exhausting. It’s communicating, which is exhilarating.

Except at 4:25 in the morning. I hope I can sleep now. Thank you for reading!

G’nite. :0)


12 comments on “You Only Have to Get Through Today”

  1. I sooooo understand where you are coming from. Being an introvert is exhausting in an extrovert’s world. I absolutely dred ( and avoid) big parties with people I don’t know and having to make “small talk”! Ugh! Stresses me out to the max! I’d rather be home with my dog, cats, a good book and my snuggie! Introverts love people, we just do better in small groups rather than large groups. Social situations are very draining, especially when you don’t have time to decompress. Thanks for sharing your feelings Jane, rest assured, you are not alone! Love ya!

    • And you know, Pat, complicating the issue for you and I is that I doubt many people would ever guess that we are introverts. (Except the few who know us, and how we tick.) And the decompression time for us is key…because we ARE able to pull off the extrovert exterior…for a while. (Which is how we happen to be able to spend the day in a room full of people. Smaller people, but still people. Actually, yours aren’t that small these days.)
      No wonder we click! Love ‘ya back! See ya Monday….sigh.

  2. Your appreciation for blogging is also why I appreciate Facebook (despite it’s many flaws)—it allows me to communicate without the drain of an actual face to face conversation.

    • Once I stopped griping about their privacy policies I had to admit that I also appreciate FB. For me it’s because I am so terrible at staying in touch any other way. I wonder if that is a trait common to introverts, as well. There are some people who have gotten angry at me, because they think the reason I don’t stay in touch well is because I don’t care. I also prefer email to phone calls, hands down. My attitude toward phones borders on phobic. But for all that, April, it’s not hindering our lives too much. We manage to function, even thought we have to do it a little differently.
      You are my l’il twin sister! I miss you, Click!

  3. I don’t know if encouraging is the right word…but I do find your writings therapeutic for me as well. I get it. For years I have felt like there is something wrong with me, with my walk with the Lord, because I am a very square peg and the it is a very round hole. Suffering from depression myself, plus throw in the intovert personality (part in parcel?) I feel those very same things you spoke of. I have one friend only who understands it, me, mainly because they suffer from the same things as well, so spending time with them actually allows me to enjoy true social interaction like a “normal” person, with real laughter, real pleasure when they arrive at the house, and real chagrin when the night is over, not forced. On the flip side of the coin is the planned dinner next saturday for so and so who has graduated college, and I do love and am proud of them, but it is a big dinner with people I don’t see that often or at all. I will enjoy Friday night, but Saturday will fly by in my mind, with that evening looming over every aspect of the day and not allowing me to enjoy my time at home at all until it is over. So, that is me, a little picture into my personality (and my friend who is just like me).
    Hope you get a chance to sleep some today.

    • Well, Greg, now you have TWO friends who get it. The introversion, the depression, not being able to enjoy a day fully unless I have the WHOLE day, not being able to jive my personality with what I believe….If I were to completely “die to self” and just put myself out there for everyone who says they need my help or my presence, I wouldn’t last very long. I know that Jesus had to have had some introvert in Him. He became exhausted with the masses of people in His life and walked away from it all regularly to spend time alone with His Father. I also don’t think that we’re called to do everything thing that we’re asked to do…the trick is to know which things are which, and draw the line where appropriate. Yesterday was something that I really needed to do, because I am married to an extrovert, and his happiness is important to me. He even said, as we were leaving “I know this is a sacrifice for you.” But it made him so happy that I really didn’t mind….I just paid the price for it later. And he totally gets that about me.
      I’m REALLY glad you find my writing therapeutic! You were one of the people I was thinking of when I said that the people with whom it clicks will respond, and then we’d get to sit at the cyber kitchen table. Now THIS is talking…not making conversation. I knew you would get it. :0)

  4. I couldn’t say it better than you and Greg have already, especially the part about living my life the way other people want me to…..I just had a commitment last night that I just couldn’t bear to go to because of the amount of people that were going to be there…and also the prospect of meeting new people which I just wasn’t up for….

    So I opted to have a simpler evening with Greg (above) and April where I could just chill and not have to perform and where we could watch DVD’s, laugh, etc.

    I’m pretty sure I offended some individuals but I just couldn’t put on the Chris I was expected to be and go….

    I’m a one on one kinda person for the most part unless I am completely comfortable with everyone in the group which is highly unlikely.

    …and now I gotta close this out because I’m gonna be late for church….something else (God forgive me) that often feels like another commitment….

    • He’ll forgive us both, Chris. You may not have noticed, but I’m often moving for the door as fast as I can politely go after church. (And today I’m not even there….I thought it would be TMI to put in the post how sick I was last night, but by 6:00 A.M. I was still having chills, headache and uh…other symptoms, so Steve called Mel and, even though I’m not feeling great, I got the blessing of being home ALL BY MYSELF!) From reading your comment, and Greg’s, I have to say that it’s no wonder I feel comfortable talking to you guys….you get it!! (I’ve already known for a long time that April was “one of us.”) Maybe we should have “Introvert’s Row” and all sit in the pew closest to the door, LOL.
      I love how you say “Put on the Chris I’m expected to be.” That expresses it perfectly. Also how the prospect of meeting new people is something that we need to be “up” and prepared for.
      Now see..this conversation would never have happened on FB. I really like this blogging thing, and you’re one of the reasons. Glad to know ‘ya, Chris. Really glad. :0)

  5. Can I just add one thing here from an extrovert? 🙂 Just because we enjoy being with people doesn’t mean that large crowds of unknown people, like a party or reception, are any easier for us. Strangers can be hard for us too, but we often cover up by being the “ones we’re expected to be” as well.

    Thanks to all of you for sharing. I appreciate the insights. IB

    • Hi Irm,
      Yes, I guess that’s one thing no one escapes from. Or most people anyway..every once in a while I run across someone who doesn’t ever seem to wear a mask, possibly to their detriment, actually. In a lot of ways being who you’re expected to be has negative affects, but if it wasn’t useful in some way we I guess we wouldn’t do it. Hmmmmm…..there’s a whole other blog in there somewhere! Always glad to hear from you! :0)

  6. Jane,
    I can relate with everything you said. 🙂

    • Hi Bethanne,
      That’s really good to know. It doesn’t surprise me to hear you say that, but I’m glad you said it. It must have been quite a challenge coming back to work in a new building. And, you’re at a time of your life when there are plenty of other things that take time and energy. Raising kids and teaching at the same time is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I think you’ve met the challenge beautifully, though, and I’m really glad that we’re still together! :0)

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