Musings on introversion & balance

snowy walkI recently read this post discussing the challenge of finding the balance between accepting your introversion while still remaining friendly and approachable. It’s a topic I’ve been thinking about for the last few months. Scratch that, probably for the last few years to be perfectly honest.

When I explain introversion to others (often awkwardly and with strange hand gestures) I like to approach it from the perspective of energy. In her book, The Introvert Advantage, Marti Olsen Laney describes introverts as rechargeable batteries while extroverts are like solar panels. I think it makes a lot of sense. Introverts start with a certain amount of energy at the start of each day. As we interact with people, our energy is drained. When we get the opportunity for alone time, that’s when we recharge. Extroverts on the other hand gain energy from being around people and will seek out socialization.

Introversion is not a negative behaviour that needs to be corrected. It is perfectly normal and comes with many gifts, even if they aren’t evident on the outside. Just think about it, what kind of apartment listing actively seeks out noisy tenants? None that I’ve seen. That’s one area where we can shine. Another misconception is that all introverts are shy, asocial, or have social anxiety. Introverts can definitely struggle with these things but extroverts do too. I love identifying as an introvert because it gives me a place to call home. A place I can grow from. Knowing that others share similar struggles makes me feel less alone.

But I’ve also caught myself over-simplifying things based on personality differences. I’ve thought to myself, “she did that because she’s extroverted” or “I don’t want to go because I’m an introvert”. Too often I’ve used my introversion as an excuse to not do things or to justify myself. But both introversion and extroversion are merely two different points along the same spectrum. No one is 100% introverted or extroverted. We’ve all got differing levels of both.

I’ve also come to the realization that introversion is merely one facet of personality. Yes, introversion affects how we view the world, but we also have our experiences, memories, upbringings, relationships, and passions that make us who we are too. The same goes for every other person in this world. And chances are, they’re dealing with a lot of their own problems and struggles. Theirs may not stem from existing in a society that devalues them for who they are. But they have their own burdens to bear.

So how do you find a balance? I know I need to take care of myself and I’ve been getting better at doing this. But I still feel as if I need to be more social. Is that my need for people kicking in? Or is it society’s view (ingrained in my mind) that being alone is a bad thing? Sometimes its difficult to tell. I really love spending time with people but it’s very easy to become burned out and miserable if I’m not careful.

Scheduling quiet time into my schedule has helped. Giving myself time to think about invitations before making a decision has helped. Explaining introversion to my close friends and family has helped. But I want to do more. I want to become more comfortable with myself while still pushing outside my comfort zone and growing as a person.

Do you have any suggestions or realizations of your own?

Image credit: “Walk Away” by Michał Koralewski is licensed under CC by 2.0

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20 thoughts on “Musings on introversion & balance

  1. anyushka says:

    I find that spending time with another person can be more or less exhausting depending on the person as well. That might be worth taking into account. There are a few people I can rest with. Very few. But they seem to exist… That doesn’t mean I then don’t need alone time. But I don’t need as much as soon.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Bart Leahy says:

    I don’t worry too much about my introverted nature much anymore. Mind you, I’m an extremist who takes vacations alone and is quite comfortable with the notion of living single for the rest of my life. I’m well aware that I have introverted friends who are happily married (even to extroverts!), so some of that is not merely introversion but just “me.”

    When I feel the urge to be more social, I just take action by leaving the apartment and going where people are–those I know or those I don’t. I also take many of my daily walks around Walt Disney World, which isn’t exactly a quiet place. As I explained to someone awhile back, “Just because I’m there doesn’t mean I’m talking to everybody.” Likewise, when I’m peopled out, I retreat to the Bartcave, where I’m quite content to read, write, whatever. I gave up making excuses for who I am several years ago. I try not to be a jerk about it–I just understand what makes me happy/comfortable, or vice versa and try to organize my life accordingly.

    Keep on being you, Ally. The people who matter will get you.

    /b

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ally says:

      Thank you for the encouragement, I always appreciate your comments and perspective. I find that as I grow older, my desire to fit in is starting to disappear and I’ve started to feel more comfortable just being me. I enjoyed my first trip alone this past October (was with friends in Ireland but alone in Scotland) and it was fantastic. Highly recommend it 🙂

      I love that you have the Bartcave to retreat to after a busy day. I should think up a fitting title for my own quiet space. Thanks again for your comment, I really appreciate your insight. Hope you have a great rest of the week!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. auroraroschen says:

    Seth and I have struggled more in this area of introversion/extroversion than any other. He is a strong extrovert who feels like I am being antisocial when I need some quiet time (or when I limit our party outings to 4-5 hours rather than 7-8). I’ve tried to explain to him that introversion is common, but he claims he doesn’t know any introverts. I’ve slowly been pointing them out to him as I see them: his father, his brother-in-law, some mutual friends at church…

    But I’ve also seen articles written by (mean-spirited) extroverts saying that introverts are just now in a world season where introversion is being recognized and celebrated. So some extroverts feel like introverts are screaming (in a quiet whisper) “Introvert Lives Matter!” – and then feel like introverts blame all kind of behaviors on our introversion. You’re right; it’s an important part of personality but only a facet of who we are. We are shaped by so many other experiences and preferences.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Ally says:

      That’s really interesting. We must be pretty good at blending into society if he isn’t able to identify any introverts 😉 I’ve also seen similar posts online. It’s sad when people create this ‘us vs them’ mentality, when in reality, introversion/extroversion is only a small portion of what makes us who we are. Thank you for your comment 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. KDKH says:

    As an introvert, I’m often Am surprised by my desire to be social. I finally realized this is. My soul’s need to connect with others. Because I’m introverted, I want to do that one-on-one rather than in a crowd. That’s perfect – because connection is difficult in a crowd. My emotional need aren’t set aside just because I prefer to connect in a group of 2or 3.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Léa says:

    I’m afraid I’ve not been one to “try and fit in”. As a young child I wanted even a bit of acceptance from the Family of Origin but alas it was something they didn’t know how to give. However, since I was a child I have searched to figure out who I was and where to go from there. Embracing the introvert was huge and while I love people I do better when I make sure to keep those appointments with myself.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ally says:

      I think its an advantage not to care what others think, something I’m working towards. I’m so glad you’re able to create a balance between social time and alone time, it makes a huge difference 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Lauren Zazzara says:

    This is the story of my life! Especially struggling with thinking you need to be social and wondering if that’s because you need to be around people or because society tells you that you should be that way. It’s really hard to find a balance sometimes, and I too get really anxious and moody when I’ve been around people for too long, and people can easily get offended by that. But it’s completely natural to feel that way, so don’t feel bad for giving yourself the alone time you deserve 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ally says:

      Thanks, it’s something that’s slowly getting better. At least now I’m aware of when I’m getting burned out and able to take steps to deal with it. I’m sure we’ll both keep figuring things out, hope all goes well for you too!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. anintrovertedblogger says:

    Great read. I always need my alone time to recharge. Just yesterday I met someone who asked me why I didn’t show up to a party on Saturday. She couldn’t understand why I turned down an invitation – even though I had no where else to be – except home. I responded I had gone out Thursday and Friday night and just didn’t want to 3rd day in a row. Her response, ‘but why?’ .

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Warrior Freya says:

    The question of “Is it a need for people or a desire to please others” is a good question. It’s one that I find myself asking sometimes when I can’t figure out how I feel about a social situation. In my mind, if there is guilt associated with the thought of not going, then I’m mostly going for others rather than for myself because the guilt stems from “letting someone down” or “being too introverted”.

    I’ve gotten to the point with a lot of my closest friends where they know it’s not personal if the date comes for some social event and I back out of it due to low energy levels. I don’t feel bad about being honest about not wanting to do something because I know the people who genuinely care about me won’t make me feel bad. There might be disappointment, sure, but there’s understanding too, and there isn’t a fear of rejection like there is when I’m doing something specifically for other people.

    I do find times where I want / need social interaction. It’s definitely not as much as other people, but it’s there, and when it is I satisfy that need however I feel I should at the time. A movie out. Shopping. Lunch with someone I care about. A three-hour phone conversation. I may not want those things every day or even every week, but when I want them I seek them out, just like everyone else.

    Everyone interacts with the world differently. I don’t think of introversion and extroversion in the terms of “strengths” and “weaknesses” anymore. I’m not “bad” at socializing. I’m selective with socializing.

    In my head, we all have “modes” that we’re set to. Just because my mode is different, doesn’t mean it’s bad. It means that’s how I’m programmed to function. If I go against my mode then I’m going to burn out and need time to repair the damage. If I stay with my mode I work extremely well, flourish even.

    I used to let myself get talked into working in different modes because I was told they were “better”. Being extroverted was “better”. But it’s not. For me, it’s not better. It’s frustrating and like sandpaper against my skin because it goes against my core structure.

    I’ve learned that it’s better to stick with being me. I like being me. It’s a good feeling to be genuine and true to myself, and the people worth having in my life will appreciate me for my unique mode while still helping me grow as a person.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ally says:

      Thank you!! I needed to read this today, especially heading into a busy weekend. As a recovering people-pleaser, I don’t often think about who I’m doing something for. The guilt aspect is also a good indication of whether I’m doing something because I want to OR because I want to please someone else. My close friends are starting to understand that I’m typically the person who leaves early and it’s been a huge weight off my shoulders when they don’t ask me to stay longer. I’ve finally gotten to the point where I rarely feel guilty which is also huge for me.

      I also have times when I crave contact with others, but even then it’s usually on my own terms. I try to suggest a coffee/lunch date but I also enjoy games night with small groups. I love what you wrote about being selective at socializing, rather than good/bad.

      Thank you for the encouragement and insight. It’s a challenging journey but I’m grateful for your comments and support. It’s a comfort and I really appreciate your friendship. Hope you have a great rest of the year 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. introvertedrelationships says:

    I can so relate to you on this one. Half the time I don’t think my friends and family truly understand how I feel when I say I don’t want to go out, if I say I need down time. No, I don’t like going out every night of the week, but at the same time staying home every night isn’t good for me either. I need to find a good balance between the 2, a couple nights out with friends and a couple nights spent at home by myself (or even spent with my roommate) I’m slowly finding where I am and where I belong, it’s a slow process but one that I do hope to work on more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ally says:

      I totally agree with you. I tend to limit my socializing to the weekend. I usually keep my weeknights free to do creative projects and household tasks. I also wish I could properly explain to others how incredibly draining socializing can be for me, especially when its loud/noisy/crowded. Thank you for the comment, I hope you’re able to find that perfect balance 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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