I am told our desire to get away from everyone every now and again and again is perplexing and sometimes painful to extroverts. They don’t understand how we could enjoy being alone, period. Even more confusing, we sometimes choose to be away from people we really like.
The truth is we see all people as stimulation and potential energy sucks. Sorry. It doesn’t matter if you make us laugh until we wet our pants or we find you so attractive we agree to make babies with you (or at least practice). We will need a break from you. We even need a break from other introverts, but speaking only for myself, not as often.
What Happens If We Don’t Get Our Space?
The other day I heard a fun-loving morning show radio host say she needs to be in the house alone often in order to be civil. Having someone in another room of the same house isn’t good enough. She can feel them there. I loved that she said that because I am the same way. Also, she’s a highly visible and outgoing personality, yet she still requires time to herself (completely) in order to carry on as a decent human being. Introverts are not all recluses hanging out in dusty homes with cats and classic books (not that there’s anything wrong with cats and classic books;). We get out and rock it, but then we need to withdraw from that buzz because if we don’t we will feel like an overdone steak, no life, no juice. Our minds will be zapped and cottony. Our speech may come out slowly with pauses between words. There may be tears or swearing or both.
We Don’t Mean to Hurt Your Feelings. We Just Can’t Stand You Sometimes.
I’ve heard from readers and experienced it in my own life, extroverts miss us and feel lonely and rejected when we pull back from them. It’s like we take away their light.
It’s especially difficult for children. I’ve seen my daughter’s friends question her relentlessly when she says she is going to play with her dolls after school instead of playing at the friend’s house. You mean you’d rather play alone than play with me?
School is highly stimulating. Downtime afterwards energizes introverted kids. My daughter is primarily an extrovert but she is sensitive and needs quiet time as well. She jabbers and narrates as she writes, plays on her iPod Touch, and fixes herself a bagel. She thinks out loud. Sometimes I ask her to think in her head (so that I don’t lose my mind). I ask her very gently but I still see the hurt in her eyes.
That hurt is there in adults’ eyes too. They don’t understand how one day we can spend every waking moment with them working, conversing, giggling, creating, smooching, etc. and the next we want to watch Downton Abbey by ourselves. They want more of the high-energy or deep listening us, but unfortunately that fun dear girl or guy can grow fangs or grow weepy if pushed to be out-going and devoted for too long.
Our brains process everything so deeply it’s tiring. We need time to live in our inner world. We need to recoup bubbly energy by visiting our thoughts, creativity and feelings. We need to go internal in order to express ourselves generously externally. Solitude expands us (and everyone really). It makes space within us so that we can take in more from the outside.
It’s Not You. It’s Us.
My best advice, don’t take it personally. It is most likely not about you (if you’ve been approved as a friend and we’ve shared at least one deep and meaningful late night talk). All we ask is that you don’t make us feel bad for needing space. If we work up the courage to ask for it, please respect our request. It is vital to our well-being.
Do introverts puzzle you? Have you ever been hurt by an introvert’s need for space? Do extroverts drive you nutty sometimes?
If you found, Introverts Explained: Why We Love You But Need to Get Away From You enlightening, you may also love:
There’s Nothing Wrong With You. You’re an Introvert. (space2live)
In Defense of Introverted Parents (space2live)