How introverted do I want my life to be?

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Although some introverts don’t mind setting clear, firm boundaries with neighbors, coworkers, friends, and family, there are other introverts who seem to be magnets for people and seem to just take the overload until they get to a breaking point. I’m that way and I know a lot of you are. We’re the ones who can get on an elevator with someone, and by the time we get to our floor we know all of the other person’s deepest fears and life history. We may find ourselves listening to others for hours on end, and we try to offer helpful advice. Then we finally reach the point one day where we don’t want to spend another minute in the company of people. We may avoid those who push us and won’t leave us alone, or if we can’t get away we may lash out and say something that finally hurts the other person’s feelings. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a knob like a volume knob, to just dial back the attention of other people, without them getting offended? Maybe if we didn’t let it all get so out of hand, we could keep things on a more even keel.

How approachable do I want to be?

Well, what I’d really like is for everyone to think I’m a fun and wonderful person, yet somehow just be psychic and leave me alone when I want to be left alone. That isn’t the way it works though, so I realize I need to make some conscious decisions about how I want to teach others to treat me. One idea would be to do like one introvert in my office who is really nice to everyone but has made a sort of rule: he doesn’t go out to lunch except on Fridays and everyone knows it. I’m not ready to set an arbitrary day of the week to go out, because there may be Tuesdays when I want to go and there may be Fridays when I don’t. It really is more a matter of who’s going and what the rest of the day is like. I haven’t yet decided how I want to shape this all, yet of course by not making a deliberate plan, I’ve already established some ideas in other peoples’ heads of course, for better or worse. People form impressions of us even when we’re not trying to give them any information to go on! Usually I do go out with others when invited, and I initiate a lunch with the coworkers I know best, every couple of weeks. I also go straight to my office when I get to work in the morning, even though I genuinely like and enjoy almost everyone who is gathered in the break room or halls talking to one another, because I really like to just ease into my day instead of doing all the early morning small talk. In some ways I seem to be avoiding the subject and hoping others will read my mind. That may produce mixed results!

Since I adore notebooks and other office supplies πŸ™‚ I keep thinking of getting some sort of log book and making a detailed plan for how approachable I want to be, in all aspects of life. Do I want friends to feel free to drop in, or should they only come over when we have plans? Do I want neighbors to just ring the doorbell anytime, or will they only see me as someone to wave to when we’re both outside? Am I going to encourage people to call me on the phone? (Hmmm..no.)

It could take a long time to think about what I truly want for each part of life, but I believe it’s worth at least thinking about. After all, if I get fed up with people and start acting like a prickly pear in order to be left alone, then I’ll have no one to talk to if I ever needed someone. I will have offended a lot of people whose company I might enjoy, just in smaller doses than others might expect.

One obvious answer is – I could be nice and even approachable at all times, but know how to say “no” gracefully without feeling guilt and without getting annoyed. That was easy to write, but when I don’t want to be bothered, I really don’t want to be asked. Especially if the other person won’t take no for an answer.

I’m still hoping I can figure out a way to act consistently so that I’ll have just the right amount of social interaction, instead of my current pattern of letting people get close, closer, too close, then avoiding the hell out of them when I get too much. Do you already have this figured out? In other words, are you comfortable with the level of interaction you have with others around you? Also, for those of you who are lonely, this is a good time to think – do you really want to be invited to all those parties, and do you really want a big pack of friends to do everything with? How much do you really want?

Photo credit: saital

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73 Comments

  1. I don’t know that anyone who considers themselves an introvert EVER figures this out. Quite frankly, I think it’s just the human condition. No matter where you fall on the introvert/extrovert scale, you’re going to have people around you who are not aligned with you.
    .-= Gomez´s last blog ..The weather and your windshield =-.

    • Very true. I think the reason I want to try to fine tune the signals I’m sending out is that when I don’t want any interaction with others, then I don’t even want to have to say, “I’m sorry; I need to go now,” or whatever.

  2. Since I adore notebooks and other office supplies

    Omg, Staples is my favorite place to shop. I don’t know why I love office products so much. Maybe because they give off an air of organization and efficiency that I do not possess.

    My MO so far has been to avoid everyone. I’m an extreme introvert and can only stand to be around people for a few hours before I start feeling tired and irritable. It’s not that I don’t like people but I’m like you. I get in a room full of people and everyone wants to talk to me and tell me their life story (someone once said it was because I look like someone who understands).

    I like listening and talking to people but only in small doses. I need time to recover and process before moving onto the next person. Unfortunately, in this extrovert world that is rarely possible so I just took to avoiding everyone all the time. It’s a lonely existence but I much prefer being lonely than offending someone one out of aggravation.

    I’m not sure what the answer it. My guess would be that you’ll have to decide on a level of interaction (perhaps erring on the side of more privacy for your) and stick with it come heck or high water. That or try to hang out with other introverts who are more likely to understand that sometimes you need alone time.
    .-= Arwen Taylor´s last blog ..The Secret to Getting Out of Hell =-.

    • OMG yes – I could stay in a Staples forever, admiring all of the various things, from notebooks which are so full of potential to Sharpies in a beautiful rainbow of colors… πŸ™‚ Yes, I think that’s sort of what I’m doing without even thinking about it. I’m pleasant but never really encourage most people to get too close. I don’t want to run the risk of saying, “Stop by anytime!” because sometimes it’s really NOT a good time. I have a great friend who lives a mile from me and she’s an introvert too, so we understand very well how to go have dinner or something and then go our separate ways.

  3. I enjoy my solitude, but I also like to have fun with my friends, when it works for me. I’m a self-centered bastard that is so highly focused on what I do to try to make money that I’ll sit behind the keyboard for weeks without coming out to speak to anyone. I like my life that way, I get stuff done.

    If I need social interaction, I can hit the bar, get drunk with people that might happen to know my name or not, doesn’t matter. But the flock of friends thing, forget it. Friends have issues, they interrupt and really, it’s hard to find decent friends that have similar thoughts as myself about whatever.

    I have the love of my life, and that is all I need. She is as driven as I am to achieve retirement before 50, and we compliment each other nicely.

    She’s also very helpful in that she’s good looking, an extrovery, and I’m quite happy living vicariously through her.

    really don’t know what my point is anymore, but great post. Got me thinking, obviously. lol cheers!
    .-= Wayne John´s last blog ..How to install Windows 7 – Upgrade your operating system with ease with these tips =-.

    • Thanks Wayne! Sounds like you have things figured out very well. And since you have the love of your life there, that’s probably just about all the close people-time you really need most of the time!

  4. It’s weird. When I was much younger, like in grade school, I did have huge packs of friends that I enjoyed and we got along pretty well. I did have to “hide” sometimes to get some peace, but I never really worried about being overwhelmed. Now I’m 24 and I can’t figure out what I want. I have that same pattern. I feel like I need to be accepted by others on some level, but if they get too close I want to run.

    • I never worried about it either when I was really young. I instinctively looked for my time alone when I needed it, but I didn’t have all the “shoulds” we have as adults. Adults have in-laws, coworkers, clients, all sorts of humans to please besides that comfortable pack of friends. πŸ™‚

  5. oh my goodness I know how you feel. I’m one of those people who want to be able to help everyone but get overburdened when i take on too much work (or emotional baggage). I’m a people person to a certain degree but at the same time I want people to back off. I’m a walking contradiction. I envy the extroverts…they seem to have it so easy. However, I learned that I can’t change my nature so I just work with it. Find my balance and hope I don’t offend anyone along the way…

    • Yep me too, walking contradiction. And so much of it is timing. When I’m not already exhausted or overwhelmed, I’m a lot more receptive to talking, being asked questions, etc.

      • Oh my God thank you! I do the same thing a lot. If Someone comes to me with a problem I feel the need to help them. I end up getting so emotionally caught up in it myself that I get stressed out or overwhelming myself then running away. This leads to sending mix messages which I hate as well. For awhile I just thought the cosmos had something against me lol. I also try to reason it to myself what went wrong though I can never pinpoint it though I figured maybe I just suck with girls. Lately I’ve been pondering the question if I’m even an introvert or not, but either way I feel it’s a learning experience and what you do with it helps the bigger picture. After all it’s probably how we perceive it ourselves.

  6. Sometimes I wish I would talk a bit more with my neighbors than I do or maybe even get invited into their flat – or invite them into mine. But then again, I don’t want it to become a Seinfeld-Kramer relationship where we just drop in with eachother, cause most of the time I prefer to decide when I wanna do stuff rather than say “no” to them too often.

    So for now, we just say “hi” when we pass on the stairs or “we gotta stop meeting like this”-when I see one of them at the shop, which has happened quite often.
    .-= Klaus @ TechPatio´s last blog ..Funny Pictures: Google Street View Launched In Denmark =-.

    • Klaus that is exactly it! There are people I really love talking to when we all have time, but I like to know that if I get home and am tired or in a hurry, I’m going straight into my house and I don’t want anyone following me in the door talking. (Or bursting in the door like Kramer used to)!

  7. cb, this is a tough one. I feel like you do, I think. I want people to think of me as a nice, friendly person, but I want them to leave me alone when I don’t want company. (which is most of the time, I must admit) I am a people magnet, myself – people seem to think I’m approachable. And that’s OK to a point, but I think I’m too nice and then get pushed beyond my limit, as you said, and end up hurting someone’s feelings. I’ve had this happen to me very recently, in fact, at work, and maybe it would not have reached that point had I been honest and up front right from the start about who I am and what my limits are. Maybe we need to establish boundaries early, when we first get to know someone. I know that in my desire to be “nice,” with my reluctance to disappoint people or hurt their feelings, I have allowed people to think that I really enjoy their constant company and that they’re always welcome; but when I get worn out and try to pull away a little, then they get hurt. I am trying to see the “other side” of this and it makes me think that honesty is the best policy from the start. I think it’s been discussed before how we introverts wear “masks” a lot of the time. I think my “mask” of friendliness has gotten me into jams more often than not. And it’s caused me to end up hurting people when I never wanted to do that.

    I spend every other weekend in a college program about an hour from my house, and I stay in a dorm. I have to admit that sometimes I think it would be nice to have a couple of good friends with whom to go have a drink after class at night. But then I realize that honestly, when class gets out at 10:30 on Friday night, all I want to do is get back to my room and cocoon with my computer, away from people and conversation. It’s just who I am. I think I like the *idea* of having more friends better than I would enjoy the reality of it!
    .-= hermit loner´s last blog ..β€œI Hope I Die Before I Get Old” =-.

    • Hermit Loner, great point! That may be one of the differences between all the overload we get as adults and the more manageable stuff when we were kids. We have learned to wear the mask of an extrovert, so people think we *want* to talk all the time! We do have the *shoulds* – I should have more friends, I should be going out for a drink after class. I’ll try to let my natural, relaxed, introvert self come through a little more.

  8. This is a really tough one but it’s made me think a little.

    I don’t mind going out to lunch with some co-workers who I consider to be friends. But I wouldn’t want to go out with a bunch of new people who I hardly know, simply because lunchtime is rest time, and I don’t want to spend that time slogging through getting-to-know-you questions. Or if I’m the new one in group that knows each other well!

    I also tend to trust my gut a lot when it comes to impromptu invitations. Sometimes there’s really no reason I shouldn’t accept the invite, but something inside tells me I really shouldn’t. It’s a bit freaky but there’s been too many times when this happened and I later found out they had a bad time or something awful happened (which made me glad for my gut).
    .-= lazygirl´s last blog ..Dear Forbes magazine, kindly DIAF =-.

    • I’ve realized that one thing about lunch is, I really like all my coworkers (only my department is in this building), but I often just don’t want to do all the stuff of getting into cars, going to a restaurant, being there for so long, etc. If some people have brought their lunch, I’m happy to eat with them. But then I’m still going back to my desk for a little blog-reading break before the afternoon starts back up! Hey, sounds like you have some great gut instincts!

  9. I am one of those introverts who has a very hard time establishing boundaries with other people. I don’t have as hard a time saying what I feel to immediate family members, but when it comes to other people, such as coworkers and people with whom I have socialized with, I have had a difficult time with expressing my limits in regards to thier behavior and how it is affecting me. I think a big reason for this, in my life, is because I am not around people a lot so I don’t get many chances to practice expressing myself in that way. I am a stay-at-home mother now, so I am not around other adults, alot. On the occasions when I am employed, it takes me out of my comfort zone, and I find that I have difficulty communicating my limits to coworkers. I have also realized that I can get along with most coworkers without ever having to express a need for some limitiations, however, there’s always that one coworker who ends up getting on my nerves and usually I find myself trying to avoid that person and when I can’t avoid that person, I get so annoyed that I do or say something that ends up hurting that person’s feelings. This usually happens with people who do not know how to take nonverbal cues and who insist on being loud and even nosey. These are behaviors that I have a very difficult time tolerating. It’s taken a couple of really ANNOYING, FRUSTRATING workplace experiences over the last three years or so, to make me realize that I really need to start communicating my needs in a more direct, firm way and as early on as possible, so that my level of annoyance isn’t at it’s boiling point and I don’t end up lashing out inappropriately. When you are annoyed with what someone is doing and you lash out inappropriately, more often than not, it ends up backfiring. I think the direct, firm style of communicating limits is especially needed when it comes to dealing with highly extroverted individuals, because people with this temperament, are more prone to stepping all over other peoples comfort zones, since they crave a lot of attention and often do things such as being loud, interrupting, making little comments in order to get the attention. In the past, I have even gone to talk to a therapist after dealing with annoying workplace issues. The one thing I wish that the therapist would have advised me on how to do, would have been how to set limits. Because that would have saved me a lot of aggravation. But I eventually learned how to do it on my own, by going online and doing searches on how to be more assertive and how to use limit setting language when communicating with others. I think that there are a lot of people who do need to take an assertiveness class, so that they can learn how to communicate their needs in a postive, empowering way.

    • JW I think that’s great that you’re a stay at home mother now. It must be great getting a rest from some of those coworkers you’ve had, for one thing! Very good points – I have had a lot of trouble with getting just totally fed up with one annoying person or another then totally avoiding them and just despising them. It’s easier to avoid than to stand firm and pleasant, but that’s a big thing I must tackle. Thanks!

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  11. Wouldn’t it be great to have both whenever we feel like it? πŸ™‚ Having to work from home now given me a lot of personal time. Can’t say I don’t miss noises, hanging out with friends but it’s good to be quiet once in a while. Focusing on tasks that needed to be done and be productive.

    To me, there’s a time for every activity. When work, it’s work; when it’s chatting time, then I’m all up. Sadly we can’t always have things all planned according to our own schedules. Consider a blessing if we get to meet people who feel exactly like us, then it’s easy to communicate without having to hurt anybody’s feelings. πŸ™‚ Otherwise, we just need to either adapt or try to outsmart whoever is coming to gossip with us about other people’s personal lives, out of our willingness.
    .-= Ching Ya´s last blog ..6 Points To Ponder Before Using Automatic Status Updates =-.

    • It would be awesome to have both whenever we feel like it! It does make a huge difference working from home vs. in an office. When I’m not in situations of enforced togetherness with others, I can listen to my own rhythms of working alone vs. enjoying the company of others. I finally find myself finally *needing* the company of others and seeking them out. Adapt and outsmart – both sound good. πŸ™‚

  12. I work from home. πŸ™‚ Problem solved. πŸ˜‰ I don’t like to be around people (at all) and don’t remember a time when I have, which is why I now work from home.

    When I last worked in an office, the politics were just overwhelming to the point that I quit before I was completely finished preparing for my new career. And I was just desperate to get away from the endless birthday parties. πŸ˜› What IS it with those birthday parties???

    • Allie
      I dislike birthdays parties too, unless its my friends and/or family throwing the party…then I have to go. Other than that I don’t even bother with it. I rather work than go to useless functions.

      • I’m happy to attend a party for someone I know (there are bound to be other people I know in attendance, which is good), but for some coworker I hardly know–not interested. These people were freaks for the birthday parties. Every single person in the department got one. There was one almost every month (I was the 12th person and refused to tell them my birthday). The worst part was that this was the NUTRITION department of senior services… So the treats were not worth it. “Nutritious” is not equal to “treat” if their idea of birthday party fare was anything to go by. πŸ˜‰

    • Allie that sounds wonderful! It’s awesome that you’re able to work from home. Oh gosh I know it – the birthday parties….because so many people love being with others and relish their day to be the center of attention!

  13. I am like that in that I prefer to be left alone first thing in the morning, and let me do my “getting settled in” act with coffee and computer, before I am ready to begin the day’s chit chat. You can tell I hate those 8 ‘O clock meetings πŸ™‚ But I think, outside of reading your mind, what you are asking of people to expect to know when you are ready for them, and when you are not, is next to impossible. Unless it is fixed circumstances (like the morning talk example), where you can set delicate rules, there is no way out, but to pay the price of being a social animal (we humans are known by that term, right?) Anyways, good post, got me thinking for sure.
    .-= Prashant @ Stress Management Techniques´s last blog ..Motivational Songs, TOP 15 Inspiring Songs, Motivational Song Lyrics =-.

    • Thanks Prashant! And, you’re right; it’s definitely not fair to expect others to read my mind. πŸ™‚ I just make sure to avoid certain areas – like the break room – first thing in the morning, especially the day after a big football game or political scandal! πŸ™‚

  14. Ohhh this is a good one.

    I don’t have an exact answer for it either. I wish I did, but I don’t.

    However, I’ll start by saying that I too LOVE Staples. All those brand new shiny pens and the perfectly smooth and untouched paper. I wish I could buy the entire lot of it.

    But back to more relevant matters. I’m alot like lazygirl with the gut instinct thing when it comes to invitations and requests. Unless I have a legitimate reason to say no, I’ll very likely respond in the positive to whatever has been asked of me…unless my gut (or maybe it’s my brain) is really screaming “there’s no point for you to do this…do you really want to do this?”. And thinking over it, I don’t think it has ever been wrong. I pick and choose very carefully when it comes to group activities. I try and hold out as long as I possibly can until something comes up that I actually really would like to participate in. In other words, I try and fill a certain “quota” as best I can to keep on the good side of the extroverted people around me. Seems to work pretty well (although I STILL can’t get slip away into a quiet space on a break without being asked why I’m hiding! :P)

    When it comes to approachability, it depends on the person. Some people I love when they approach and wish they’d do it more (heh…maybe they’re introverts too), but there are others who I wish could drop off the face of the earth. What is it about this latter group of people? It seems like every time you turn around, there they are!

    • Hahaha…. I used to think I was alone in my love of office supplies, but we’re coming out! YES – there are a lot of people who I’m genuinely glad to see, even if I thought I wasn’t “in the mood to talk this morning.” But there’s always that one person, who if you give him any encouragement at all, will run all over you with his talking, prodding, questioning. And good luck on finding a better place to take a nice little break! It’s not hiding; it’s finding “the good spot.”

  15. This is a tough one. I still haven’t gotten it figured out, myself, but it’s way better than it used to be. For the longest time, I didn’t make any regular weekly plans, but that would cause me stress because inevitably, people would ask to do things on the nights where I most wanted to be alone. Now I have a set day where I hang out with certain people, and if for some reason I just don’t feel up to it, I call one of them and say, “Hey, I’m staying in tonight,” and offer to do something over the weekend or just say “see you next week” and that works out fine. I get my night off and they don’t feel put out about it.

    At work, it’s a little more difficult to do, but if I’m really flustered and need some time to myself, I will just tell the person, “I’m sorry, I just have too much on my mind right now. Can we catch up later?” and they’re usually pretty understanding about it.

    As much as I’d like to be selfish about things and wish the world would just know when to talk to me and when not to, that’s not the way it happens. It’s all about compromising and setting up things so everyone knows the score. If you let people know you’re not a big talker all the time, but still be friendly about it, they’ll generally be accepting of when you need some down time. Not everyone will get the hint the first time, but most people are surprisingly responsive if you just give it a chance.
    .-= DF´s last blog ..Google Launches Buzz To Conquer Social Networking =-.

    • DF I think that’s really cool that you’re able to make a plan for your time and even explain to others when you want to stay home or be alone…and it sounds like it works perfectly. I need to do that more often – I find myself getting angry if someone argues about it in the slightest way – but all I really need to do is stick to my guns. Very good points!

  16. I tend to structure the ‘logistics’ of my life quite well, to the point where people don’t get the chance to trigger my ‘get outa here’ buttons!

    For example, my friends will go to the pub on a friday night from 7pm until midnight. I’ll typically turn up at 9pm and be gone by 11pm. This is enough time that I can chat to all of them and have some fun, but at the same time, I’m not over-exposed.

    If you plan things well, many a time people won’t get the chance to challenge your patience!

    Much Love

    Sam

  17. Hey, I’ve been spending this morning looking at posts and blogs about people needing alone time. I’ve realised over the last 3 years or so that I really do need a lot of time to myself, to recharge, re-balance. It somehow makes me feel better. But I do love to socialize too. I suppose what makes me an introvert is how I re-charge.
    When I read your blog I was quite interested because the reason I have been looking at theses posts is that I’m really struggling at the moment.
    Unfortunately I have a Seinfield situation. I moved into my one bedroom apartment a few months ago. The rest of the 3 storey building was freee for about 4 months, bliss.
    But then my friends moved in downstairs. They are constantly at my door at all hours. I habe tried to create boundaries but I seem to just come off as really grumpy and unreasonable, like they just dont get it.
    My best friend is living at home with her parents so she calls over to me to hang out. Thing is… I think she’s only calling over half the time just to get away from here parents for a while. When she will call me and say, I’m calling over in a half hour… is this ok? If I say no its not OK then she’s hurt.
    Yesterday, from the moment I woke up until late last night I had company, people to talk to to and people to “entertain” in my place..
    It has gotten to the point lots of times where I have just withdrawn, stopped talking and just pretended I was really tired or didnt feel to good, which usually isnt too much of a lie because I am exhausted, by other people.
    Last night I pretended I felt really sick, and my friends left me alone, that was around 1am. When they left, I got up off the couch, smiled and let a big sigh of relief that I was alone at last.
    Argh!!!!!

    • Oh yes – I know that smile was genuine! πŸ™‚ The bad thing about humans is, they like us a lot better if we start out with rules or boundaries or whatever and then loosen up a little than if we start out letting them do whatever they want then try to tighten up. But in order for you to enjoy life, it sounds like some tightening up is in order! What would happen if the “party” arrived at your door and you say, “Sorry guys, I need about an hour of ‘me time,’ then I’ll come down and find you… ” Because of course if they’d let you rest and recharge for just a bit, you’d really enjoy being with them!

  18. A really interesting question that gave my head this pretty picture of my old self sitting on the bench at a peaceful park, watching parents and their kids stride along happily.

    Looks like this pretty much answers the question.

    Let’s just say that my family, my close friends, nature, and God are all I need in my life. Nobody and nothing else.
    .-= Pauline´s last blog ..I’m pretty happy πŸ™‚ =-.

  19. This is a great post. I recently learned that I had to set boundaries with my family who lives way too close to me. They don’t understand that if I’m home reading a book then that’s what I’m enjoying to do vs doing it b/c I have nothing else to do so in that case should go visit them. It’s very frustrating. I’ve been feeling like a really horrible person lately but have started to realize that I’m not horrible, I’m just different and prefer spending time alone. But the hard part is getting other people to understand that with offending them.

    • Thanks Lani! It really is hard to get people to understand – even if they’re also introverts! To them, if you’re reading, then you’re “available,” yet you chose being alone over being with them! I think it’s great that you’re honest though, instead of pretending you have to work or something. Last week I invited an introvert friend over, and she was able to say, “Um, not tonight, it’ll be my first night to have some time alone all week. Can we do it Sunday?” Absolutely! πŸ™‚

  20. OH MY GOSH!!! I thought I was the only one that dealt with this issue!! I need people in my life, but I need them in SMALL doses… I cant deal with everyone all of the time…

    • Isn’t it funny.. we’re out there in the world but we can never tell that others feel the same way we do! Yes – small doses sounds perfect. I love being with “my people,” but then I love to get home!

  21. Great post! Very thought-provoking. What you explained here is actually the bane of my life. I think I know what I want, but I don’t know how to get it. And now, I feel like it’s to late to change it, without making my meager amount of friends think that I don’t want to be their friend anymore. I mean, how does one say I don’t want to go out or I don’t want to talk…how then are we supposed to have a relationship, when friendships are based on all of that? :/

    • Thank you! πŸ™‚ I know what you mean and am still wrestling with finding a solution I can live with. We don’t want to lose our friends our have them totally get out of their normal friendly habits, but somehow we have to find ways to give ourselves some long (delicious) breaks.

  22. I don’t have this one figured out in the least bit. Although, I have a coworker who invites me to lunch at least once a week and often to do things after work. I’ve taken to just being honest and say that I just need my lunchtime to be alone and read because I have a lot going on elsewhere. She’s nice, but she’s one of those people with very strong emotions and tends to “dump” on me.

    You mentioned not wanting to encourage people to call you on the phone. I’m also not a phone person. I think that it’s easier for me to stay in a conversation and connect if I’m able to see the person and I write much clearer than I speak, so email and social networking is perfect for me. However, I struggle with not feeling normal and okay with this. I always wonder if I have a social anxiety issues when it comes to using the phone. I wonder if I’m alienating friends because I would rather chat via email and then catch up in person rather than sit down for a long chat on the phone. I remind myself that before phones were invented people still had meaningful friendships, even if they only saw each other once every few weeks, but it doesn’t help too much. I think it relates to the societal belief that women love to chat on the phone. If I’m a woman and don’t like to talk on the phone, what’s wrong with me?

    How do you handle not being a phone person?

    • I think you hit the nail on the head. It’s because we’re women that we feel weird about not liking the phone. But – for the past ten years, whether it’s an introvert or an extrovert, my friends/family have always used email to arrange our getting together. If I’m out of town, I treasure talking to my kids on the phone, and I always enjoyed talking to the guy I was dating, something like that. But for normal social chitchat, I’d much rather go for a little dinner or a walk with a friend than to have my hand up to my head for an hour.

      Plus, having the phone always about to ring at a random time is like that old game of musical chairs. What will I be doing when the phone suddenly rings for that hour-long chat? Putting something into the oven? Digging in the garden? Scrubbing the bathroom? It’s just often not a good time! πŸ™‚

      • Interesting! I’ve always enjoyed chatting on the phone with dates (and still enjoy it with my fiance), but that just made me more concerned.

        Whenever I make an effort to connect with my friends via email on a regular basis, it helps me feel closer to my friends. I’ll mention our “conversations” as “talking” and get weird looks and comments about how that’s not really “talking” (okay, not literally), but what they really mean is that it’s not as good as a phone conversation. I’m not sure how I feel about that yet. I would like to think that it’s equal because I would prefer to “talk” via email.

        Do you find your friendships are diminished at all because you don’t have weekly (or even daily!) catch-ups over the phone? Have you noticed email as just as effective and connecting as the telephone? I just don’t see the point in calling “just to say hi,” but I don’t mind emailing that if I have something else to add.

        • Well.. now that I think of it, for the extroverts I think I am not as close to them as the people who call them all the time. It’s really unfortunate, but they bond through all that talking. For my real good introvert friend, she DESPISES the phone, and in fact I used to try to call her to invite her to things and would always get the machine and she’d call me back. Now that we’ve outed ourselves as introverts, we strictly email about getting together, or she sometimes texts me for a quick question, such as, “6 pm ok?”

          • That makes sense. I have an introverted friend who I always tried to call (because I felt bad if I stuck to just email and texts), but she never would answer. Then we finally realized that neither of likes the phone, so we stick to email and texts only. I have a pretty extroverted friend who loves to chat on the phone. I humor her at times, but mostly I don’t answer because I’m just not prepared for a conversation.

            • Very nice! And – yes if only we could say, “I will be receiving phone calls Saturday from 11 am until noon,” like a formal thing from the past. We’d be ready, not in the middle of something, and halfway alert and receptive!

        • Ohhh…wow.

          I can SO relate to getting weird looks when you refer back to an email or instant message conversation. It’s like, for them, that conversation didn’t even happen. Which is a real shame, because I value some certain email/IM exchanges just as much as the extroverts seem to value their phone conversations.

          Sometimes when I’m talking to these people in person, I have to “play dumb” and bring up the same points that we’ve already discussed via IM just to avoid getting those weird looks. That drives me bonkers. Sometimes I wonder why they even have email/IM conversations if they don’t seem to ever remember them. Hell, given some of my past experiences, I’m beginning to wonder if extroverts even remember any type of conversation period.

          • Heck me too! The written conversations are some of my best ones! Great idea playing dumb. Hahaa…you’d think surely they’d have to acknowledge then, “Well Andrew I already told you about this on IM!”

  23. This post made me think a lot about the need for quiet time. In the last year I have become more of a homebody and less of a social butterfly. I believe it is a question of balance. My career requires me to see and deal with hundreds of people every week, so when weekends come around and the phone rings, I am more inclined to ignore it. But as time goes by the phone rings less and less…..do I want that?
    Matt KleinΒ΄s last post ..Karate Kid vs Kung Fu Kid

    • Definitely a question of balance, and of spending our people-energy deliberately (we hope). When I was alone a lot, either when studying for exams or later staying home with little ones, I was often very happy for the phone to ring – as long as it was a friend. I wanted to talk to and be with someone. But if I’m with others a lot – work, circumstances, whatever, then my craving is to have that alone time.

  24. “How introverted do i want my life to be?” Very great question which i never find an answer until now! Sometimes i want people to ask me to go out with them but sometimes not, but even when i don’t want to go out with them (friendly speaking) ‘m deceived that they don’t invit me…

    • Thanks Lucy! It’s a question I can never answer, because there are a lot of people I really like and like to be with, but I have to pace it and space it out – yet it’s not always my choice! Sometimes people get out of the habit of inviting me if I always say no. And sometimes events are just too close together if I am invited.

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  26. As I get older, I feel that I’m becoming more introverted. My desire now, as I approach 50, is to work freelance, escape the rat-race and buy a cottage miles from anywhere (I live in Yorkshire in the UK).

    I can be the life and sould of a party, but then I need a week on my own to recover.

    Hmm… sound kind of weird that. Might need to rethink who I am!
    Alan @ Voodoo CostumeΒ΄s last post ..Voodoo Priest Costume

  27. I think that sometimes you just have to tell people how you feel. Of course it can be a little bit rude if someone asks you to hang out after work and you answer them with a β€œno, I would like to be alone”, try saying something like you are too tired but you’ll definitely go next time.

  28. It’s a tough spot, trying to be approachable and likeable, but not being hounded. I’ve struggled a lot with what you talked about, coming to a breaking point eventually because I don’t establish good boundaries. I’m trying to learn how to say “no” graciously.
    Fria@Green PowderΒ΄s last post ..Berry Green Powder

  29. I constantly struggle with trying to balance the time I spend with others and my alone time. I’m actually glad that I’m introverted but I wish other people would understand that I don’t like to be called every day or hang out with them all the time. I think my problem is that Im always trying to make other people happy and if I try to satisfy my own needs then I feel bad about it. If they want to hang out, most of the time I’ll go even though I don’t feel like it. Or if they call me alot, I’ll answer because I feel as though is rude to ignore and we almost always end up talking for hours. Ugh. Instead of trying to fix this, I tend to just smile and suffer through it. Eventually the interactions will get too overwhelming, and thats when I abruptly stop answering calls or texts but I always feel so bad about it. When I mentioned this to my mother, she told me that I was being selfish by not answering and asked me how I would feel if someone did the same thing to me or better yet, never called me at all. That made me do some soul searching. I want to talk to other people from time to time, but in all honesty, most of the time I just want be alone so when I’m around others too long, I get this throbbing headache that just doesn’t ease up. When I told her this, she took it personally, saying that when I finally move to Japan I’ll get all the alone time I ever wanted and more. Ouch! So I have to ask myself, Do I suffer through it like I’ve always done and have people loving to be around me? Or do I tell them that I need to be alone right now and risk them getting upset or feeling like I don’t like their company? I think the latter will make me happier in the long run but it’s easier said than done. Establishing boundaries in the beginning is the way to go, but how do I do this without hurting their feelings?

  30. I interact with the public where I work, which is tiring in itself. Lately, I’ve not wanted to talk to my coworkers for numerous reasons other than the fact that I just don’t like having pointless conversations – while I hate talking to customers, it’s focused and purposeful, and therefore tolerable. My coworkers always seem to bring me down in one way or another, whether by gossiping, making some kind of bigoted remark, or following up almost every innocuous sentence with “That’s what she said” or some other lame, unoriginal comment. I’m bored by these people, and what really sucks is I suffer from massive brain drain from the moment I walk into the building, so half the time I’m disinterested in the conversation and can’t even spit out a semi-coherent response. I bet my coworkers think I’m a walking idiot based on these interactions, which makes it so much harder for me to think of anything else when we do talk.

    Sorry for rambling! πŸ™‚

    The best strategy I’ve been able to come up with lately is to appear to be a cold, emotionless person and then prove how nice I am in one-on-one interactions. I think some people have figured out that while I’d rather be left alone, I’m a generous, polite person when asked to do something.

  31. Sometimes it can be hard to mask my introvertness from others because I just seem so friendly and nice to others. This causes them to want to hang out and talk to me, when most of the time I just want my peace and quiet. I am sure there are many who face the same problem as me. I think your advice might work, and I might try it out soon.

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  33. The thing that I love about this site from my limited experience with it so far is that every post I read feels as if the topic has been taken directly from my own head and address – laid bare – right there in front of me on the screen.

    I, much like you, wish that there was SOME way that I could manage to dial back the attention that I receive from others, be it friends, familily, or whomever else. I’ve always prided myself on being a good listener but as I’ve gotten older I’ve embraced being an introvert more than I did in my younger years. I love having boundries that I was once to scared to define. I now spend a lot of my time expressing myself online and through my pet project site but still wish that when I do venture out into the big, wide world I could have that same ‘knob’ you aspire to have that would allow me too to avoid awkward phrases like, ‘Sorry – I have to go now…’

    I’m thoroughly enjoying this site as it is allowing me to see that I’m not only in my beliefs and feelings. I thank you dearly for that.

    Anita. x

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