Over the past year or so, I’ve been fascinated by the differences between introverts and extroverts – the ways in which we see the world, the ways we get our energy. In some ways, the introvert/extrovert idea is a false binary, and most of us fall somewhere along a continuum.
Introversion/extroversion is not just a personality trait, though – these tendencies are also biologically based, and have to do with how we react to stimuli in our environments, and how sensitive our brains are to sound, color, and movement.
While I’m friendly and enjoy talking to others, I identify as an introvert. I am quickly overwhelmed by social situations, and before long, I have to retreat. I’ll leave the party early, or at least, go off into another room to recharge. Too much socializing becomes a chore.
I have friends who identify as extroverts who love to be around others. A solitary evening at home is something to be avoided – they’ll get on the phone and find someone to hang out with, even if it’s just sitting in the same room to watch TV. They recharge by socializing, whereas I recharge with solitude.
My introvert tendencies can become a struggle around the holidays. There are so many social events to attend, with work, family, and friends, and I can’t decline them all (many seem “mandatory.”) This time of year, I make a special effort to be in tune with my own needs, and to meet those needs in ways that won’t hurt anyone.
For me, this often means deciding in advance how long I will stay at a social event, and planning an “escape route.” It means making sure my car isn’t blocked in somebody’s driveway. It sometimes means forcing myself to go to an event when I really don’t want to, but that desire has nothing to do with the host or the other party guests. It’s not you, really, it’s me.
When I make my farewells, please don’t exclaim over how I’m “leaving so soon?!” or “the party’s just starting!” I assure you, I did the best I could. Sometimes showing up is a struggle. But I do show up, because I care for you, and want to wish you the happiest of holidays.