“I crave space. It charges my batteries. It helps me breathe. Being around people can be so exhausting, because most of them love to take and barely know how to give. Except for a rare few.” – Katie Kacvinsky, First Comes Love
According to dictionary.com, introverts “tend to be preoccupied with their own thoughts and feelings and minimize their contact with other people.” This seems a little harsh; it makes introverts sound like antisocial hermits, when that is not the case. I like to think of our social experiences in terms of an hourglass–every moment that you’re around people the hourglass is tipped, slowly running out of sand. This is your level of comfort that slowly disintegrates as the moments around people progress. When you feel the sand running out, you retreat–to home, a long ride on the subway with some headphones or even a park. You just need to be alone and when you’re ready to reengage, the glass is tipped to the other side.
Our hourglass analogy, our secluded retreat, doesn’t mean we don’t want to hang out. It doesn’t mean we don’t like you (most of the time); it doesn’t mean we wouldn’t love to be out partying. It just means we need a second. It’s a weird feeling, to physically and emotionally feel yourself being drained of your energy and to know the exact moment when it’s all used up.
Introverts can be quite social, actually, and love conversation, especially about the deeper things in life. Nothing pains us more than small talk. We’d rather sit and stare at you in silence than play the “getting to know you” game. Let’s not just chit-chat about the dream you had last night. Let’s explore the metaphors in the dream and what their underlying connections might mean to your life. Why not pull out a dream dictionary and let’s do an analysis! Then we can have a discussion about the manifestations of your undiscovered passions in the dream and what you can do to work towards those goals! Too much?
Although our quiet but intense interest might come off as creepy and intrusive, please understand it’s not. This is just the way we are! We care and want you to reciprocate. If you don’t ask, we won’t tell. So sometimes this is our way of trying to open to you.
The reality is, social experiences are things we must prepare ourselves for and approach delicately. For example, if I know that a friend’s birthday party is on Saturday, I’ll really try to lay low for the week. This means going to bed early, tucking my phone away as soon as I get home, walking around with headphones to avoid talking to people, etc. By Saturday night I’m ready to go, usually staying out until all hours, socializing, even going to brunch the next day and participating in Sunday Fun-day (See? We’re fun!).
However, come Monday after an intense weekend of socialization, don’t expect me to tip that hourglass.