I used to think that being an introvert meant you were shy. And extravert = outgoing. Not being a terribly shy person, I was always told and believed myself to be an extravert. But a few years ago, my friend, Belinda explained to me that no, I was not an extravert; that I was, in fact, quite the introvert. I didn’t believe her.
Here was some basic evidence she pointed out:
- You could not pay me enough to enter a room full of strangers and mingle for an hour. Well, maybe you could. But I wouldn’t like it.
- I cannot get enough alone time.
- After our weekly community group meets on Tuesday nights (which I enjoy immensely), I am EXHAUSTED
- Large parties are always a daunting business. In large settings, I’d prefer to find one person, sit on the couch and not move. At all.
Here’s the VERY basic definition as I understand it. This is by no means an exhaustive look.
Introvert = someone who is energized by being alone.
Extrovert = someone who is energized by being with others.
I instantly felt like I understood myself in a whole new way. My life growing up with my extremely extraverted (and very dear) sister, who doesn’t even like to floss by herself, suddenly came into focus. So much of my behavior made more sense. Belinda was right, it turns out. Does everyone already know this stuff?
So I’m an outgoing introvert. Who knew? I don’t just like having time to myself. I need time to myself. And it has occurred to me recently that being an introvert is at direct odds with having toddlers/preschoolers. I know that it will not always be this way. One or both of my boys might end up being introverted as well (pretty please) and then we can all live peaceably together with long periods of silence and navel gazing in between all our dance parties and chatty meal times. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway. But right now? If there is a coping thresh hold for introverted parents, I think I reach it almost daily. Kids are so… up in your business. Physical boundaries don’t exist. Plus they are completely needy. They whine and carry on about totally unreasonable things. And the talking. Oh my word, the talking. The sheer amount of words coming at me at all times from all sides.
Isaiah: Ca’ I have ‘stachios? (“Could I have some pistachios?”)
Me: Yes, I’ll get you some pistachios. Let me finish getting brother some juice and I’ll get you some pistachios. (Gryffin, meanwhile, saying “Mom, did you for-get my juuu-ice? Did you for-get my juuu-ice?”
Isaiah: Ca’ I have ‘stachios? Ca’ I have ‘stachios? Ca’ I have ‘stachios? Ca’ I have ‘stachios? Ca’ I have ‘stachios? Ca’ I have ‘stachios? Ca’ I have ‘stachios? Ca’ I have ‘stachios? Ca’ I have ‘stachios? Ca’ I have ‘stachios?
Until my head explodes.
Seriously, they just talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk. Constantly. In so many ways, I love it and wouldn’t want it any other way. Except maybe with intervals of complete and total silence. I’m not suggesting that you extraverted folks would be able to handle this kind of incessant banter better (would you??) but my thresh hold for it seems much lower than, say, my sister’s or some of my other extraverted friends. Jason is also an introvert (though slightly less so than me, I think) and some (ok, most) evenings after we get the boys in bed, we do not speak to each other for at least an hour. Sometimes longer. It’s like we physically can’t speak. And I would guess that it’s the reason why some weeks we struggle to feel as connected with one another as we would like. We both just feel completely filled to the brim and we’ve got nothing left. So we retreat to our blissfully silent places in survival mode, sitting side-by-silent-side on the couch, reading, writing or just spacing out.
I like my friends, my family. And I like spending time with them. And I love those boys crazy much. But I seem to have an “all filled up” capacity and I reach that capacity SO much sooner now that the boys are at this particular life stage. It’s a fun stage and I’m thoroughly enjoying it but I’m functioning at my absolute limit most days. And the thought of spending the boys’ nap time in anything but complete solitude is mildly alarming to me. I’m wondering if other introverted people find this stage of life difficult? Does it get better? I’m constantly seeking out space that is quiet or solitary. Or if you’re an extravert, what difficulties do you have that might be different from your introverted counterparts? Like, is nap time lonely for you (I cannot fathom that this is so)? Talk to me, people.
And in the meantime…