Bridging the gap between extroverts and introverts
Most weeks I stumble across at least a couple of posts about extroverts versus introverts in my social media news feeds. I’ve blogged about being an introvert myself. In fact, if you go by Myers Briggs personality types, I’m an INFJ, which supposedly the rarest type.
I’ve spent my entire life with people telling me I’m too quiet and wanting me to talk more. I get exhausted when I’m around too many people for too long. Crowds wear me out quickly.
Add in some social anxiety as well, and social interactions tend to make me cringe. I am paranoid that people don’t actually want to talk to me or that the remark I just made was ridiculous. I don’t easily walk up to folks and make small talk. It goes against who I am.
Living the introvert life
I do my best to get outside of my comfort zone when appropriate and when possible. I try to overcome random anxiety and fear, but I also know I will most be able to relax and recharge when I’m home without people around other than my family.
If I’m being honest, there are also times as a mom that I need to be alone and apart from my chatty, active children.
During the quarantine, I’ve found that I have more on my plate than ever with trying to keep up with my work, the kids’ schooling, a HUGE amount of dishes, laundry, feeding us and so forth. Yet, my tank is fuller sometimes because I don’t have random social interactions with other people.
I don’t have awkward moments waiting outside my kids’ school where I feel like I ought to talk to other parents but I don’t know what to say and I don’t really want to just make small talk. As an introvert, I want real connection or no connection.
What extroverts can learn
But here’s the thing about introverts: we are the minority. Of the world’s population, the majority of people are extroverts. Most of our world and activities are created for and by extroverts. People who are quieter or comfortable being alone are viewed as odd or different sometimes.
What I’m hoping is that with the quarantine, maybe extroverts can understand just a bit more how we feel. I don’t mean in that they have to be alone more often right now, but the drain they feel in being alone. The yearning they have to be with other people and get energy. The desire they have for physical contact or even small talk.
Imagine, extroverts, that most of the world is opposite of you and tells you the thing you most want (contact with others) is odd. Imagine that you must be more by yourself than with others most of the time. That yearning you feel for being with others is the same yearning we feel for being alone when we have been with other people too much.
How we’re alike
While our feelings are opposite of each other, they are still the same feelings. Extroverts need to be around others to recharge and feel drained without enough interaction. We introverts are the opposite. We need time alone to recharge and feel drained with too much interaction.
It doesn’t mean that we don’t want to talk. We’re not weird (at least not just for needing time alone!). Many of us aren’t even shy or anti-social. (I really don’t consider myself as shy any longer, though I did for years.)
Introverts and extroverts are just wired differently. And it’s OK. Neither of us are right or wrong; we’re just different.
Maybe in the midst of other lessons learned throughout COVID-19, we can get a better understanding of each other. I don’t personally have the same longing for being with other people as an extrovert does, but I can completely see where they’re coming from. I’ve had the same feelings from the opposite side of the fence many times.