On introversion

I have a memory of being a teenager: a glum teenager. I was stood at my bedroom window next to my lovely Dad, feeling about as low as I could be.

A group of girls were going past in the street: they were all dolled-up and laughing raucously.

“Why don’t you get dressed up and go out too, love?” my Dad suggested kindly. He just wanted to see me happy again.

Fast-forward to my art college days, where I have memories of struggling to stay awake in strangely damp underground Bath nightclubs.

I wanted to socialise and make friends, so I bargained with myself:

“At 1am you get to go home: hang on in there… not long now.”

And zip on again to right now: joining in the fun at family gatherings, all the while certain that there must be some sort of warning light flashing on my forehead: 

“If you don’t plug this device in soon, she will crash into power saving mode.”

I used to wonder why I wasn’t more like the other girls.

Why everything seemed to be too much for me, and so quickly.

Why a simple party would leave me reeling, exhausted but unable to sleep, due to my mind’s insistence on chewing over every. little. thing.

Of course, I get it now.

Heading towards fifty has never felt better, because I finally make sense to myself. 

I don’t have some fatal flaw; I’m not missing the party gene. I’m just introverted.

I need my times alone scrapbooking, because they feed and restore me.

I need dates at coffee shops with paperbacks and quiet bus rides where all I do is gaze out of the window and daydream.

I need the daily walks on the beach that still my inner monologue, and from time to time, I need for all the online noise to stop, because – for me – it’s a draining place and not a restorative one.

Over the years, I’ve learnt a thing or two about being me and being me well.

I’ve learnt that I can do hard-for-me, sociable things, but I can only cope with one extrovert challenge a day – and once I’m done, I make sure I reward myself.

I’ve learnt that I don’t cope well with house guests.

I’ve learnt that I can visit others and have them visit us, but that there needs to be a clear ‘going home’ time.

I’ve learnt that exercising off a little nervous energy before socials helps me no end.

And I’ve learnt that I can’t say ‘yes’ to every event – however much I’d like to be that amenable person – because when I’m saying yes to too much activity, I’m saying no to my wellbeing.

But most of all, I’ve learnt that to be fully me, I need to embrace my introversion as the gift it is, and not waste any more years wishing I were one of the giggling party girls.

Because my perfect party? Well, it involves my softest flannel pyjamas, a mug of hot chocolate, the latest Sophie Kinsella and not a single damp-walled nightclub in sight.

I guess as the quote goes, I’ve learnt that, “I’m not anti-social: just pro-me.”

14 thoughts on “On introversion

    1. Suse Fish

      Oh, I am glad! You know, Poppy, I spent a long time feeling not quite normal and kind of beat myself up about it. If I could go back in time, I’d push myself to extrovert regularly, but stay in and introvert a whole lot more! 😉 xxx

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  1. sashazeen

    I am learning the same thing about myself and learning how to accept myself the way I am. It is healing. Thank you for sharing, Suse. I have recently discovered your blog and it has become one of my faves!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Suse Fish

      Oh, thank you friend! Yes, I think how other people perceive us is one of the things that may trouble introverts.
      We may come off as a bit grumpy when we take ourselves off halfway through an event, but it’s really just self-preservation.
      What I find hard – as a total people pleaser! – is to remember to put myself first and stop caring so much about whether I’m disappointing people…it’s no good being the perfect friend/daughter/employee if you’re actually running yourself down in the process.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Anastasia Anastasiadi

    I love the idea of your perfect party! (as I think of myself “I like people in small quantities”, cause we introverts need other people in our lives of course, but we need to balance it with me-time to have energy for those people).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Suse Fish

      Yes, it’s so important to make sure we keep getting out there and socialising, because we’re all created to be in community like that.

      The other thing I always remind myself is that even though social things can be hard at first, when you get to know people better, extroverting feels a whole lot more comfortable!

      Thanks for your comment, Anastasia! xxx

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  3. I’ve been digging into what it means to be an introvert recently too, esp. in regards to my personality type, and I agree with everything! I was telling my mother just the other day that I finally understand why I always feel so hungover from hanging out with my friends or being in a public place for awhile with a bunch of people. I constantly need to recharge.

    It all depends on your scale (percentage) of introvert-ness though I think too. This is all from observation, but like not all introverts feel the same level of exhaustion, even though we all do feel exhausted when around people for too long. A 56% introvert for instance may come off as an extrovert (50% being the midway point), and it may take them awhile to feel that exhaustion and need to recharge. But they do eventually feel it. Those on the higher end (like me at 83% introvert) would feel it more and much quicker.

    I’m curious to know what your personality type (MBTI) is? Cause depending on what type you are also lends itself to your level of exhaustion and need for recharge. For example, I’m an INFJ, so my primary functions are introverted intuition (Ni) and Extraverted Feeing (Fe). This combination leads me to unconsciously absorb other people’s emotions, as opposed to exude my own emotions. Taking in so much energy, information, and an array of emotions will drain me. It’s often the reason why I don’t like associating with people who “give me a bad vibe” because they are more emotionally taxing for me to be around. I’ll just be depleted indefinitely.

    It’s all very interesting when you look into your type and the ways of an introvert. It’s amazing how much of who I am makes sense to me now that I’ve been reading up on this. These types are generalizations of course, but we each can apply it to our person, and let me tell you, all the “ah-ha!” moments I’ve had because suddenly all that didn’t make sense, makes so much sense now!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Suse Fish

      Oh, it’s such a fascinating area, isn’t it? I’m an INFJ too and always sit up when I hear others say they are too!

      I suspect that I’m highly introverted, though I’ve never done any sort of test to see what my percentage is. I’ve read about what it means to be an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) and those descriptions rang a lot of bells for me too.
      The game changer for me, has been stopping forcing myself into the extrovert roles I thought I ought to fit… being a ministry partner especially, you can feel that being very sociable and willing to lead is part of the role, but I’ve realised that it doesn’t need to be. The times when I did try preaching, I would be awake and retching at 4am the night before! And although He sometimes leads on challenging paths, I’m not sure God calls us to discomfort on that scale! Lol. xxx

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  4. Pro me! Well said! I love solo long bus rides and reading too.

    I used to enjoy a little drinking and I always prefer drinking at home, in my comfy clothes, with music of my own choosing. So I do party – with myself. It was great. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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