One of my valued connections, Pat Weber, wrote a great article on how to be your true introverted self. It got me thinking about how I was true to myself last week. Friends were throwing a get together and when my wife said she told them we’d be there, I told her, “not me.”
The news of the get together came after a long week of work and a day of soccer and yard work. My wife and I argued a bit about how lame it would appear if only she and the kids went, but in the end she threw up her hands in frustration. It’s not that I dislike our friends; quite the opposite, I enjoy their company…in appropriate doses.
This is what Pat means in her article: introverts are in their stride when they don’t force themselves (or others) to be more extraverted. When they do what comes natural. She gives spending time with her pets, reading, and spending time with a few friends as activities more to introverts’ liking.
I decided that night that what I wanted to do was stay home to be alone. If one of the kids wanted to stay home that would be fine. But if my wife and they wanted to go to the get together, that was fine as well. None of them wanted to stay home with me, so I was on my own…and in total bliss.
You may wonder what I did that night. First I ordered a pizza, which I ate in our living room, without guilt. Then I searched On Demand for a movie I wanted to watch. The one I chose was about a man in search of his sister who was seriously injured in Brazil. He was a Kung Fu super hero who killed many people without being scratched. The movie sucked, but I watched the entire flick.
After the movie I ate my favorite evening snack, cereal. Then I did what makes being alone so enjoyable for me; I read one of my Joe Nesbo novels. A times I wondered what my family and friends were doing, but I was grateful for the solitude.
I imagined what I would be thinking at the get together when 10:00 p.m. rolled around. Probably I would want to leave after having a great time catching up, while my wife would want to stay until 12:00 or longer. I also imagined the resentment I would feel and wishing that we had taken different cars. Further I thought how ridiculous it would look if I left the gathering alone.
There he goes, they would think. What’s wrong? Does he dislike us? Maybe one or more of our introverted friends would think how nice it would be if he could also leave, their time being extraverted expended like mine.
Sophia Dembling, author of The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World, writes about how she’s not a huge fan of parties because her energy wanes, just like mine. I enjoyed reading this part of her book, related to it completely.
This is the lot us introverts are dealt when our energy level wanes and it’s time to bolt the scene. We’re perceived as aloof, when in fact we enjoy being with people as much as anyone. Just not for an extended amount of time. Unlike extraverts, who feed on being with people, introverts enjoy the occasional bouts of solitude that allows us to recharge our battery.
When my wife woke up in the morning, I sheepishly asked her what explanation she gave our friends for my absence. She said with a smirk, “I told them you’re an adult.” This gave me a great sense of pleasure, and I vowed I’d make the next get together. I’m already bracing myself for that night.
Delicious pizza, a movie that sucked and a supportive spouse! All introvert comforts aren’t they Bob? Thanks for your generous mention.
I love this post. In particular that your bracing yourself for the NEXT get together. LOL. I can so relate!
Hi Pat. Your post really motivated me to write this one. It made me think why we need to be extraverted when what we really want is a quiet evening alone or with family.
Bob, I sure can relate to this! It is a great tribute to her that your spouse sees it as “adult”! It is.
It also is important downtime so that you – the introvert – can be your best at work. Our lives are whole things and energy is finite. As introverts, we need to conserve our energy however we can in this noise-filled, fast-paced world that we live in.
I am introvert myself and I can so relate to this post.. 🙂
I understand where you’re coming from. It is a little difficult finding alone time for those who are married with families. One would need to find a balance to be supportive of the family and satisfy the need to be alone. It makes it so much easier if you as an introvert are understood.
So often we introverts are misunderstood. We are labelled unsociable and companies forever want to send us on leadership and assertiveness courses. I have never heard of an extrovert being sent on a modesty course and it frustrates me that companies feel the need to change introverts.
But back to the topic of socializing and your commitment to attend the next get together. Bob I am sure your wife will be happy to have you with her and I trust that you are bracing yourself for what will turn out to be an awesome evening! 🙂
Margaret, I love your comment. You understand how I feel, including being called unsociable–by my wife that night, but we’ve gotten over that. Being an introvert carries a stigma that makes me wince when I tell people I’m one. The world wants us to be more extraverted but doesn’t expect extraverts to be more introverted. No, I’ve been to the New Year’s Eve get together and am not a big fan of them. I’m lucky if we’re out of there by 1:00 am.
You are cracking me up! “wishing we would have taken separate cars…” I have SO been there too!
Taking separate cars would make too much sense. 😉 I’ve heard this as a possible solution. What’s most awkward is saying goodbye to all the guest while my wife is still at the party.