It’s Friday, and I just realized that I’ve been in a low-grade introvert freak-out since yesterday afternoon about 4:30. And when I think about it I felt the same way last Thursday afternoon.
Introvert freak-out is what I call this state, as an introvert, of total dread about the amount of social time that’s heading my way.
First, though, do let’s get this part out of the way.
“But Ariane, you? An introvert? But you’re not socially awkward, you can talk to people, I’ve seen you even talk to strangers.” <sigh> [Note: when people tell you something about themselves, don’t argue. My friend Eileen West just wrote a great blog post about this, when it comes to that feeling you sometimes have of being fat-for-me.]
Yes, I’m socially adept, I interact with people for a living, am on Zoom for hours talking, but I am still an introvert through and through. I am eternally grateful to Susan Cain for writing Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, which helped me so much to stop feeling bad about how I have always felt my entire life, to give me a way to understand and explain and stick up for my needs. Introvert isn’t an insult or code for Can’t Get Along With Other Normal Humans. What it means is that socializing wrings me out mentally & physically, and that I need large swaths of down-time, solo-time, to recover.
I was born this way. And guess what? I passed it on. My son and I still laugh about the time we went to an ice cream social at his middle school, took our ice cream to an isolated spot on the bleachers and had our first Ice Cream Anti-Social.
OK, so back to this recent and apparently recurring introvert freak-out.
Why is this happening? Summer. Summer time is packed with plans. And as an introvert, I start to get miserable around Thursday afternoon as I’m going through my planner & thinking ahead to all of the social time that’s coming, especially since I’m married to an extrovert. It’s a constant push-pull, me scheming ways to leave, coming up with rules about staying at parties only one hour, always sneakily looking at my watch, sometimes even sneaking away to the bathroom at parties to be able to shut the door, have some quiet (once I also calculated how long I could be shut up in there without calling attention to myself, pulled up my book on my phone, and had a great 8 minute break), generally past 9pm wanting nothing more than to get home to book & bed, so I can get up early the next morning, not feel shitty, and have my life.
Meanwhile my husband wants to do all of it, stay out all night, have the best time ever! He’s truly the greatest, but this is one area where we could not be more different.
Summer! Friends! Parties! Fun! I love it. And also truth: I hate it.
But you know what’s cool? I’m counting this seasonal Thursday afternoon introvert freak-out as a bit of a triumph. It used to be I’d have it midway through every single Sunday afternoon, considering the coming 5 whole workdays of open-plan office nerve-crisping non-stop talking and interruption. Now that I’ve re-engineered my life (yay, me), I only dread the super-social summer weekends, and then I have 5 WHOLE DAYS to be alone. #bliss
So that’s a good thing.
Also, I’m happy to be writing about this introvert freak-out, about being an introvert. I feel like it’s something I tried to keep under wraps for so long, like it was something I needed to hide, a character flaw. I still carry this burden of not being to do things “like normal people,” along with a yearning to “be just like everybody else,” so that I am apt to over-ride my own needs in order to fit in, have fun, belong. Happily (at least for me), less now than ever before.
So today I’m breathing. I am having my low-grade introvert freak-out and keeping it together as much as possible, so as not to be a total kill-joy, and knowing, if I don’t think about it all so much ahead of time and JUST GO, I will have fun. And tomorrow (if not on the sneak later this evening) I’ll find a way to creep into a book and get my mojo back.