(The following rant is not directed at ANYBODY on this forum. It's a rant from me to a few people in my real life.)
The most irritating thing about the moment you "come out" as an introvert is that suddenly everybody around you wants to get right on the bandwagon.
It seems like that would be a cause for celebration, doesn't it? More people who know you at last understanding where you're coming from? It isn't though, and here's why... It's fake.
Look, there's a reason why an introvert like myself has spent so long believing that they were broken, different from others in a way that sometimes caused tension, misunderstandings and discomfort. We feel broken for a REASON, and that reason is that we live in a culture that doesn't really understand introversion. We live in a culture that rewards extroverted behavior. Most people think an introvert is just somebody who doesn't like crowds, or is shy, or is a homebody. It's so much more than that, and it's so different. Introverts aren't necessarily shy or hate crowds.
Ever since I came to the realization of why I feel the way I do, and understood what introversion is, and how it's both a blessing and a curse, I've felt happier, more confident, and better able to anticipate and react to what's happening around me. I'm so glad I gained this understanding and I'll never be the same again, in a good way.
So I shared this information with friends and family.
And then something really irritating happened. Just about every person I talked to popped back with "Me too! I'm totally an introvert too!"
No you aren't. You most certainly are not. You get out of here with that noise.
Remember, the "me toos" are often the very same people who are the reason I felt broken in the first place. Their reactions to me, their expectations of me, all of it... and now suddenly they want to jump on the bandwagon and be part of the tribe. "Oh I'm an introvert too 'cause I really like to spend time alone sometimes!" "Oh dude I totally get you. I'm introverted because I don't like parties." "I'm really shy around new people, I'm an introvert!"
The very same people who lectured me about not showing up for events, the very same people who lectured me about not getting out more, the very same people who pushed and prodded me to play more games, the very same people who guilt tripped me for not spending more time at their place during visits now want to act like they totally get it and feel the same way.
Oh no you don't You can just take that and cram it right where the sun don't shine. It may very well be that you have a slight leaning toward the introverted end of the scale. Certainly that's possible... But don't come at me and try to tell me you can relate to me because you can't. If you could, we'd have already bonded over the similarity.
A real introvert knows what an Introvert Hangover is. Have you ever experienced one? Have you ever been in a group of people, even people that you care about and love, but feel so anxious and desperate to be away from them that you start to feel lightheaded and shaky? Let me share with you a little story and if you haven't experienced this for yourself at some point, don't ever tell me you're an introvert too because if you try it I will name you liar.
One Friday night a couple of years ago, my Dungeons & Dragons group, 8 people at the time, plus myself as DM, had just finished a session. It wasn't real late, as I'd decided to call it a night for the adventure relatively early because my social batteries had run low. At this point, everybody started to pack up their books, their dice, their miniatures, etc. As I stood up to show everyone to the door, I began to anticipate the alone time that was imminent. I needed to recharge, badly, but at least at this point I had enough in my reserves to be a gracious host while everybody headed out to their cars.
Then, something bad happened. People started chatting with each other. I'm not just talking about one group of people, I mean they were pairing off and chatting. The topics were about movies, politics, the next D&D session... I don't know, I wasn't participating in any of them. Instead, I was watching with envy as the other bigtime introvert in the group said his goodbyes and went out the door, probably starting his recharging cycle already... The lucky &[email protected]
Five minutes went by.
Some people were starting to put down their backpacks because they were tired of holding them as they chatted. I felt my blood pressure rising with my anxiety. By this point I was out of energy, mentally. I felt profoundly tired both mentally and physically. My mind started to feel numb and I was suddenly desperately sleepy.
The conversations continued.
I wanted to ask them to leave but I felt like I'd be a bad host if I did that. I felt guilty for even wanting that in the first place. These were my friends, people I loved and enjoyed spending time with. Why did I want them out so badly? (I didn't yet understand the whole introvert thing yet.)
Eventually, people began to trickle out. One couple left, then another individual. Every five or ten minutes the crowd would shrink just a bit.
By the forty-five minute mark I was literally shaking. I was living in a small apartment and there was noplace for me to go. Besides, just the thought of hiding from everybody made me feel guilty anyway.
The worst thing is that at least one person was waiting for the others to leave so he could just stay and visit with me a while. That meant that whatever he wanted to talk about wasn't even going to come up until everybody else had left.
This finally happened at the one hour mark.
By that point I was as exhausted as I ever remember having been in my entire life. I could have fallen asleep right then and there if I sat in a comfortable enough sofa or chair. I couldn't think, I could barely focus, and now my last visitor was ready to begin talking. He was my son, so there's no way I could ask him to just leave. I felt that if he needed to talk about something serious, it was my duty to listen to him.
But no, he just wanted to chat about nothing in particular. Just wanted to talk to me alone because he didn't want to have others constantly interrupting. I displayed all the "I'm desperately tired" body language I could muster. I slumped in my chair, I let my eyelids droop, I gave short, one word answers to questions. I couldn't make myself come out and tell him I needed him to head on home, and yet at that moment it's all I wanted in the world.
And I felt horrible. What kind of crap parent must I be to want my oldest child to depart from my presence? Shouldn't I be overjoyed for every second he wanted to spend with me? Someday I'd surely miss this and wish I'd appreciated it more, right?
But that's the thing. When your social batteries are exhausted it doesn't matter who it is. You can't think, you can barely speak, your mental energy is so depleted it actually feels like you'll faint. I'm not exaggerating here. I literally thought I was iniminent danger of passing out. Meanwhile my son just chatted away, completely oblivious. He's a highly intelligent young man, but social cues and body language may as well be Chinese to him.
An hour after THAT, he left because he had another D&D game with his other college friends at midnight.
So he finally left, and I was able to recover. Half an hour later, I was right as rain.
THAT is what it is to experience an introvert hangover, and if you haven't had this experience don't you dare come at me and tell me you totally get where I'm coming from and feel the same way, you poser. I've had to tread water in deep guilt and self recrimination because I didn't understand why I needed to be alone so badly my blood pressure was dipping dangerously low. I've felt like a rotten friend, a terrible father and a very poor host.
The thing is, guilt like that doesn't always come from the inside. Do you know how many times I've gotten lectures from friends about how I don't get out and socialize enough, or how I don't show up enough to events, or how I need to plan more time so I can stay longer at gatherings? Do you know how many times I've been pressured into events and activities when all I wanted in the world was to stay in my space at home and be left alone?
But the real biter in all this is that some of the very same people who furnished all those oh so helpful lectures and who guilted me for not lingering longer at parties or who gave me grief for not planning better so I could engage in an activity longer then had the utter gall to react to my epiphany about being an introvert by saying "oh yeah man, me too. I totally have that same thing."
Very few times in my life have I had such a wild and intense desire to punch somebody in the face.
No guys. You can't get on this bandwagon. You made it an exclusive thing and I'm not letting you have this.
"He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool."
"Don't take refuge in the false security of consensus."