Wonderful Extroverted Friend: Would you like to go to the Cardinal Football game with me?
Introverted Magnificent Me: Oh my gosh Yes! That would be so fun! What time does it start?
Friend: 1pm, but we have to be there by 10am.
Me: That does not sound right, why so early?
Friend: Tailgating before the game.
Me: So, we tailgate for 3 hours before the game and then enjoy the game for 3 hours? Hon, I won’t last. I can do the game, and I understand if you want to take someone else that can tailgate too.
Friend: I’d rather be with you, I’ll pick you up at noon.
This is a beautiful example of a wonderful extroverted friend that forgot about my introversion, but was willing to accommodate it in order to enjoy me. Unfortunately, many people are not even aware of the challenges Introverts face in an extroverted world, and often judge us within the context of their not understanding. The conversation above could have went like this, picking up after establishing the extra time to tailgate:
Unaware Extroverted Friend: Are you kidding? You can’t tailgate? It’s fun. Your such a stick in the mud. We’re just having a good time before the game. Why do you have to be so unreasonable? It’s just a few more hours.
The introvert now has the option to try and explain herself to someone who does not seem to be in a place to accept the explanation, or acquiesse by going to the entire event and feel miserable (because overstimulation is very exhausting and draining to the introvert, often times causing illness), or simply not go and allow the friend to think of her as unreasonable.
Take a moment and consider our society. We are an extrovert driven society in every way. From TV, movies, and technology, to loud restaurants that seem to be getting louder and louder, and overstimulating work environments with more concern for the dollar than the health of its employees.
Introverts need quiet. Introverts need downtime. It is a necessity, not an option. We offer depth to any experience. We are valuable listeners. We take in the information, process it quietly, and produce profundities. Imagine asking Michael Angelo to paint while in a casino. This is what we ask Introverts to do everyday. Create, exist in life, in this casino of a world. It’s not working. I believe it is a crisis. I am alarmed mostly for misunderstood introverted children, for they do not know how to express what they need, and demands are put on them that they cannot meet.
I was out by the pool the other day at the beautiful complex in which I live. The serene mountains in view with a tranquil waterfall, grossly interrupted by music blasting in my ears. Speakers are placed all around this pool area, I guess to keep us entertained. I want to desperately hear the sound of that waterfall. It calms me and gives me peace, but I cannot because someone in the management decided we all need noise at every moment while we are outside by the pool. It is here, in this context, happening all over the world, where I ask, “Can we please be allowed to enjoy the sounds of nature, or even our own breath.” If someone really needs music. headphones are available.
Just as we have created designated smoking areas to protect non-smokers, we need designated quiet areas. Introverts, just like non-smokers who do not want to risk their health by inhaling smoke, do not wish to risk their health due to the constant barrage of noise. It raises our stress levels significantly and puts us into coping mode more often than our systems can handle.
I do not doubt that their are many introverts lonely and confused, making themselves wrong for being who they are.
I do not doubt that you will find them in counseling offices, requesting medications to numb their sensitivities.
I do not doubt that you will find many ostracized by their families for being so different, difficult, and demanding.
I do not doubt that many are struggling in work environments that do not appreciate their ability to see things much more deeply, and are passed by for not being more animated in their presentation.
Introverts are in crisis. Extroverts are not. How can this be resolved?
Not unlike most solutions, awareness is the first step. I hope and pray many will read this and a mass awareness will incur, making life more bearable and actually create a way in which introverts can THRIVE and not just barely survive.
Introversion is not about shyness. Being shy has everything to do with social anxiety. Introversion and extroversion has everything to do with how we are made, our DNA, and how we use energy. Asking us to be different is similar to asking us to change the color of our eyes.
Introverts and extroverts have energy tanks. The way we refuel, conserve, burn our energy, and how quickly, is very different.
Introverts are big gas sucking Yukons. Extroverts are efficient Pruis’s.
Let me explain the day in the life of an Introvert, since I am one, within the context of being a gas sucking Yukon.
I wake up from a full nights sleep. My tank is full. While I get ready, I could turn on some music, but it depends on what I have going on next. For music will burn some of my gas. My kid is needing me, requesting all kinds of last minute things before getting out the door. I have our life very organized to reduce interruptions, but life sometimes happens and we have to roll with it. More gas is burned with his demands. Oops, coffee spilled, more attention diverted, more gas burned. You see, gas is burned with more stimuli, no matter what it may be. If you put a tv on in the midst of all of this, more gas burned. Throw in a stubbed toe or a headache, look out, I would have to dramatically conserve my energy in order to make it through the day. Most likely the drive to work would be complete silence.
I have learned to create a life that makes room for accidents because life is filled with them. I also make time within my day to simply sit and rest in quiet. These times are my trips to the gas station, filling up my tank so I can continue on. I am a hairstylist and interact with people all day long and love it. I love it because I have made room for my introversion and create rest throughout.
An introvert on fumes cannot focus properly. Our interaction will have an energy of frustration, irritation, and exhaustion. We do not feel well when we run on fumes. Many will try and muscle through it, forcing a smile and continuing on. I guarantee, prolonged fume living will create illness.
I am not an extrovert, so I cannot speak as one. Psychology and my experiences with them says extroverts are energized by activity, noise, and people. Just like a Prius, they never seem to run out of gas, and use very little. This is an important distinction. Introverts enjoy all of those things too, but without time to refuel, they drain us.
How do we negotiate an acceptable balance, (because our society is rapidly moving toward a very unbalanced, overstimulated, over-aroused environment conducive only to the extrovert – forcing us to hibernate in our homes, and we don’t want to always do that!)
Keep inviting us to events, but keep in mind our needs. It means we can come to the party, but we’ll have to leave early. We ask you to not judge us or make us wrong for needing to leave. When our tank runs out, our tank runs out, and we cannot refuel without quiet. So smile, and let us say good bye.
It means, if we’re in a group project, we will need solo time too. Our insights come from solitude. We have much to share as long as we are given our space too.
It means society, restaurants, and other public places need to create designated quiet areas. And/or let extroverts wear their headphones instead of forcing us to stay home or suffer through the constant noise.
I had a roommate who enjoyed watching the news at times when I needed quiet. I purchased headphones for the TV, a great option that meets both of our needs.
Introverts love extroverts. You are wonderful for us and are highly valuable in our lives. You pick up the slack when we have nothing left. You entertain and arouse, and we enjoy you so much when are tanks are full. All we ask is for Awareness and Understanding of our unique incredibleness.
Check out Susan Cain, author of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking.” She has started a Quiet Revolution, let’s join her!
Release to Unleash
Are you an extrovert that did not understand the introvert?
Are you an introvert feeling misunderstood by extroverts and frustrated by society’s bent toward the extroverted lifestyle?