Self acceptance is tough and I’m pretty sure its one of those lifelong process things. Sometimes I think I’ve figured it out, then I get hit over the head with a reminder that I still have a long way to go. But I like to think that I’m slowly learning. I wanted to share a few things I’ve discovered along the way in the hopes that it might be of some benefit.
Do I have enough energy for that?
Introverts are gifted with a small amount of energy each day and we must ensure we’re spending it on people and activities that are worth it. Paying attention to how much energy you have at a given moment, and choosing activities within that energy level, is incredibly helpful.
I try to explain how my energy works to close friends and family (introverts are kinda like rechargeable batteries). Unfortunately, not everyone is going to be supportive, but you might be surprised at the positive responses of some. Many extroverts are more than willing to take a coffee break in the middle of a busy day, especially if they know you need it.
Your #1 priority is taking care of yourself. You can even tailor your participation in social events to fit your energy levels. I like to arrive early (usually means less people) and take my own car if possible. I’ll then spend a predetermined amount of time enjoying interesting conversation and good food. Then, while I still have a bit of energy left, I’ll head home to mull over the night’s events. Once I’m home, I’ll typically relax with a cup of tea or glass of wine and watch some YouTube videos before bed. Perfect end to the night.
Its okay to say no 🙂
If you’re offered an invitation, give yourself some time to think about your answer, even if its just for 5 minutes. Don’t let others pressure you into giving an answer immediately. If you want to go, and you know you have the energy, go for it! But if you don’t want to go, or you know you won’t enjoy yourself, saying no is probably the best option.
Declining invitations can be tricky. You don’t want to disappoint or discourage the person from inviting you to future events. Up until a couple of years ago, I’d always say yes when offered an invite. I’d put my own mental and physical health needs below the feelings of the other person. And every time, the same thing would happen. I’d arrive at the event feeling burned out and irritable. I’d attempt to make small talk with those in the room, taking frequent bathroom breaks where I’d question why I had even come in the first place. I’d laugh when everyone else was laughing, but my thought process was fuzzy and I couldn’t concentrate on the topics that flew back and forth above my head. I’d then start counting down to when I could leave.
Now when I decline an invite, I usually thank them for thinking of me and let them know that I’d love to get together another time. I might suggest grabbing a coffee or going for a walk. Both of these options occur in quieter settings with less people and are more personal than a large gathering.
Alone time is a need, not a want.
I used to view alone time as an optional thing, something to cram in between work and chores and social time. Since I didn’t prioritize alone time, it rarely happened, and most of my days ended with me burned out and irritable. Once I started seeing alone time as a need, it was easier to create pockets of time within each day for quiet.
I use running and planner decorating to recharge. I don’t have a room mate which is lovely because its quiet all the time. If you’re living with others it may take more planning to carve out that quiet time. But if you make it part of your daily schedule, it’ll go a long way in keeping you fully charged throughout the week.
Some people still might not get it (and that’s okay).
Unfortunately, even with greater awareness, the word ‘introversion’ still has a negative connotation, especially in countries where individuality and self-expression are touted as the ideal. Both introversion and extroversion are perfectly normal and healthy ways to function. However, there are still some that believe introverts are snobby, impersonal people. They assume this because introverts don’t readily share their thoughts and feelings.
People aren’t going to automatically understand or accept your nature. Even if we explain ourselves and give it time, not everyone is going to get it. But those who are supportive and look out for us are worth far more than the ones who don’t.
You don’t need hundreds of friends.
Friendship looks different for everyone. I have a small, close-knit group of friends. We don’t see each other all the time, but when we do, its like we were never apart. The current social media trend is to have as many followers as possible. But this isn’t realistic in the real world, especially when you don’t have the energy to maintain all those relationships. Stick close to the friends you have and feel free to reach out and make new ones. But don’t feel like a failure for not having a huge social group.
Do you have any wisdom to share?