I’m going to talk about introverts for a little bit. As I sit in my room, with the door closed, my coffee cup in front of my computer, my thick heavy bathrobe like a protective shock blanket around me, I’m going to try to explain a little bit about my people.
(I’m a slightly dramatic introvert and yes, introverts are ‘my people’. I think all introverts are rather protective of each other, especially against people who don’t understand or don’t respect us. But we’re overly protective from behind the safety of our computer screens.)
I will start with giving you a buzz word that I believe any introvert will understand and love even if they’ve never heard if before.
I didn’t realize I was an introvert until a couple years ago, and only about one year ago did I begin to understand the Drainage System.
First, let me say this to all my fellow introverts: You are not weird. God created you to be an introvert. Embrace your introvertedness. Don’t try to change yourself or try to make yourself think you are something else. You are not. Learn to understand what and who you are. Be the introvert God wants you to be and love yourself for it.
To all the confused and worried extroverts out there: We’re fine, just leave us alone.
Now before you get all mad and upset at me, let me explain. Introverts have a finite amount of energy that they guard fiercely. Most activities or events involving other people, lots of noise, and go on for hours can and will drain the introvert of their energy. Energy level gets low, time to go hibernate and recharge.
(Before I proceed: I do understand that not all introverts are majorly introverted, and I understand that not all extroverts are majorly extroverted. This article is to help the confused Intros and Extros to understand each other.)
Solitude is the introvert’s friend. The Extro worries that the Intro is mad, sad, upset, etc. because they like to be alone all the time. Once again, I tell you: we’re fine. We like to be alone. Silence is our friend. We will become mad, sad, upset, etc. if you continually come in and break the beautiful silence that we’ve formed.
To the introvert, any excess noise, conversation, or words are like mind clutter. We have to weed through all that and use energy to clean it out of our heads before we can get to anything we want to think about. I know extroverts who feed of random, mindless phrases. They read road and store signs without ANY INTENTION of starting a conversation from it or commenting further on it, they just read them outloud.
“Exit 402: Parkway Dr.”
To the introvert, every. single. one. of those words takes away energy. When the Extro volunteers useless, unwanted information like that, it takes energy for the Intro to listen, process, decide the words aren’t useful for anything, and throw them out. The Extro may read the sign aloud and not give it another thought. The Intro may sit there for five minutes mentally watching their energy level go down.
What happens when the energy level goes down? The Intro may get defensive, short or snappy, or ‘rude’ toward the person ‘stealing their energy’. When someone says useless words or things like that and causes unnecessary drainage, the Intro now sees them as an Energy Thief and they begin to guard their energy with a vengeance. This is why the Intro can see rude, snappy, or grumpy. They’re afraid more energy will be stolen.
When the energy level gets down to a certain point(for me, it’s around 45%) the Intro DESPERATELY needs to get away from the excess, unnecessary noise//activity, and go recharge. Recharge= Silence. Books. Computer time. A pleasant activity(down in solitude).
For me, when my energy level gets close to 50%, I stop laughing, smiling, talking, making eye contact, and generally participating in the activities around me. Why? Because that’s how I can reduce my energy loss until I can get to a place where I can recharge. This may cause the Extro to think the Intro is mad or angry because of lack of facial expression. The Extro may then proceed like this,
“Are you okay? You look mad. What happened? Are you sure you’re okay? You seem really mad about something. What is it? Tell me, maybe I can help. Please, I just want to help you. Maybe if we talk about it?”
Inwardly the Introvert proceeds like this:
Talking is the LAST thing the Intro wants to do when they are getting low on energy. Talking just uses up more energy, and they don’t have any to spare at the moment. Another thing: Every single one of YOUR words ticks away at the Intro’s already low energy.
When dealing with an Introvert, remember: use as few words as possible. Instead of the long monologue of pressuring words that I gave you above, a simple, “Are you okay?” Will suffice. Better yet:
Ask, “Are you drained?”
I believe that any Introvert, even one who hasn’t heard that word before, will understand and LOVE YOU FOR THE FACT THAT YOU UNDERSTAND. Or at least, they’ll hope you understand. You understand a little bit. Points for you.
The Introvert will probably nod and continue to edge out of the room to a place where they can recharge. Basically, if all else fails and you don’t know what to do with the Intro, leave them alone. No words, no eye contact. Don’t force them to interact with you at all. They will talk when they are ready and have enough energy to spend on a conversation. The more you pressure the Intro to talk to you and ‘tell you what’s wrong’ or try to get them to participate in the conversation, the more they will get defensive because just the fact that you’re pressuring them after they’ve already said ‘no’ is draining and steals energy. Now you’re an Energy Thief again, stealing more energy than needed because they already gave you an answer.
Another tip: If the Intro has already answered your question(whether it’s to talk to you, partake in the activity//conversation. etc) don’t force them to answer it again. You asked the question once, they gave an answer, this conversation should be done now. Asking the same question with different words steals more energy and frustrates the introvert. They already TOLD you their answer, why is there still noise coming out of your mouth?
Things to remember: If you’re unsure about the mental state of the introvert, just leave them alone.
We have a limited amount of energy and we’ve probably already spent enough on you.
Let us recharge. We like solitude and silence so stop talking and leave us alone.
We’ll come out and talk when we’re ready and have enough energy to spare.
Don’t make us waste energy on you.
And lastly, if we look like this, do not pass go, do not collect $200, just leave us alone.