How to be an Extreme Introvert in an Extroverted World

Quiet RevolutionThe world is so noisy to me. I can’t even describe the noise of it, the beeping of phones and the chatter of people and the television and the press to respond. Even my washing machine nags me if I don’t get the clothes out quickly enough. I can’t tell you how much it grates on all of my nerves.

I am extreme introvert. Over time, I’ve come to believe that most things are a spectrum, not a point. You get friendly people who are very friendly, and those are a little friendly, people who are very mean and those who are just a little mean. It seems to be the same with introversion. You get introverts who need a bit of time on their own to feel balanced and happy and then you get me. I’m an introvert who probably wouldn’t notice for days if the rest of the world disappeared.

I’d notice eventually I assume, probably because I’d realise after a while that I hadn’t ignored my ringing phone for a few days.

But it’s true. I love to be alone and I need a lot of time by myself. I can go weeks without any social contact and feel fine. That’s not to say I don’t need any social contact at all of course, if I go without for too long then I get squirrelly, but my threshold for solitude is a lot higher than other people. And if I have a job that forces me to be social, to be around other people, it exhausts my need for social contact without really feeding my need for the right kind of social contact. But I’ll explain that later.

So it’s hard for me, to live and flourish in this world where everyone and everything is noisier than I could ever imagine being. As a result of all this, I’ve developed a number of survival strategies that keep me sane in this world where everything seems designed to grate on my nerves.

Seek Out Social Contact.

Deliberately seek out the right kind of social contact. I said I’d get back to this, didn’t I? See, the thing I realised is that I do have social needs, they just don’t seem to be the same as most people’s. I crave deeper conversations, in quiet places. I like to focus on just a handful of people, it allows me to map them in my mind without interruptions. But if I have a social job it exhausts me, drains my energy so that I don’t want to seek the type of interactions I need. This is when I need to deliberately ignore my exhaustion, seek out the right kind of social interactions, and watch my tank fill back up again.

Who Counts?

Decide whose opinions matter to me and whose don’t. This applies to what other people think of me and the way I live my life. I care about the opinions of the people who are important to me and that’s it. I don’t have the time or the brain space to worry about the rest of the world. So if you see me singing and dancing as I drive, it’s only because I really don’t mind if you laugh at me.

Just Slow Down

Remember to take a breath before I make a choice. The world is strongly against this one. It wants decisions now, yesterday, quicker and hurry and why do you take so long. Unfortunately, when I make fast decisions they’re usually bad ones. I need 1.to slow down, ignore the pressure, and let myself think about things.

I’m Slow, Accept it

Accept my slower pace in all things, it makes things easier. I’m slower all round. I’m a slow thinker, extremely thorough, but slow, and so I take longer to do things. I develop and go through life stages slower and when I want something I am slower to get it. But I always get there. Slow doesn’t mean stupid and it doesn’t mean that I’m weak willed. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s the opposite. Slow means I can map out my path, pinpoint and evade potential obstacles, and map out a clear route to what I want.

Headphones

For those noisy days when the world just won’t go away and leave me in peace.

Do Feed the Brain

And finally, I need to feed and care for my brain. It is my greatest playmate and playground. It is the thing that can turn on me if it’s angry, or be my greatest ally. If I feed it well, it gives me endless opportunities and possibilities, and if I don’t than it closes down and traps me. As an introvert, my inner world is the real world, and that means that first and foremost I have to take care of my mind before anything else.

So those are my best tips, especially the final one. Ooh, and this post was inspired by the fact that my writing recently showed up on the Quiet Revolution website, so head over there and check it out if you want.

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “How to be an Extreme Introvert in an Extroverted World

  1. I saw this post pop up on my LinkedIn feed a while back, and I’ve been meaning to read it for a while. I’m so glad I remembered to. I am not introverted to the extent that you are (weeks without human contact would make me bonkers–maybe just a few days would be nice!), but I relate with what you say, and it inspires me. I forget sometimes to not take to heart everyone’s opinion of me, and it’s something I’ve been trying not to care about for a long time, but I don’t know how to break from it. Also, you reminded me that I’m not stupid (I know I’m not, but sometimes I feel like it). I don’t always have something to say straight away when someone tells me something, but I often think of some things minutes, or even days, later, and it’s for the reasons that you’ve said: I’m not stupid, I’m just considering deeply. I hate giving hasty replies just because I feel like I need to fit into the “social norm” (aka, extroverts’ norm–they set the status quo). I was telling a friend recently that I have actually trained myself to reply to things quickly, which has worked, but in doing so has conditioned me to simply blurt out words without thinking about them first, which leads to misunderstanding and me being a social misfit for saying weird things (I was destined to be socially awkward, either in silence or saying things too quickly). I trained myself to do this at a young age when I began to realize that silence was socially unacceptable, and I think it has not benefitted me for anything else except resembling something that looks like “fitting in,” when really I’m uncomfortable with mindless conversations and always “having something to say,” even if it’s hasty and tomfool.

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    • Hey,
      That’s so interesting because I’ve often thought I’d like to try to develop the ‘just reply quick’ reflex. My brain doesn’t seem to have the ability to do that though. I’m kind of grateful now hearing that it doesn’t really help, and actually can make you feel worse. I’m glad this article helped, though I have to say that on the ‘social misfit’ front, I’ve found that misfits are usually the most interesting to talk to once they (and I) get past the ‘oh god quick say something – anything’ kind of thinking which usually results in a verbal weirdness dump. And yes yes yes on the feeling stupid thing. I hate feeling stupid more than anything else in the world.

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