It is 8:04 on a Monday. I just had a three-day weekend. I am supposed to read multiple books for classes this week. I have assignments to finish I haven’t even looked at.
I talked about the problem with labeling ourselves tonight with a friend over coffee. Sometimes we get too caught up in labeling ourselves, and then we forget to simply show everyone who we are as people even though we live with these hidden truths. By labeling myself as an introvert to others, stereotypical ideas of people who sit in corners and never converse with the room may come to mind, and then it seems as though we could be thought of as lesser people. That’s not who we are though. We love spreading positivity and interacting one-on-one with people. Speaking to larger groups can be intimidating, but I have done it. Did I do it well? Doubtful. But Jo Rowling also wrote many pages before she was published.
This aspect of who I am is important because I have been struggling with it recently. As an introvert, I tend to recluse back to my individual space when I become overwhelmed or over-stimulated. I love enjoying time with friends, but it generally takes me longer to find my happy place again. Without this alone time, I become agitated, exhausted, unsympathetic. Without this alone time, I am not myself.
I shut down.
I didn’t realize this until I sat with someone who is also an introvert and who also needs this in order to revitalize and reenergize. I tried so hard to get this person to turn off his recharging mode while simultaneously forgetting that this is also my process. I forgot to empathize, which is one of the worst things to forget.
When I try to revive myself, I tend to resort to writing, reading, sleeping, or running. All of these activities are solo activities—human interaction is never needed. It’s never wanted or even desired. I do these things because I understand the importance of self-care. In this instance with another introvert though, I became selfish. It was unfair to him. I tried placing my needs over another person’s, and I hated myself for it. I should have known better.
The first week of classes exhausted me. I didn’t want to celebrate at the end of the week like most people. I wanted to hang out with those closest to me, which I did. I wanted to simply exist in the present. I wanted to create and write and laugh and revitalize. I almost fulfilled those desires.
Even so, I still forgot to recharge. I hated the thought of being alone because I knew if I were alone, I would start worrying about the future: graduation, graduate school, the end of honest innocence and naïveté. I was excited, but nervous. I didn’t want to miss out on filling every hour with those I love because I know those are the moments I will appreciate later. Everything will be different one year from now, and I tried to forget about these truths by resulting to avoidance. None of this helped my introvert ways, though. On my last day of the long weekend, I felt as though my nerves were as frayed as my hair because I so desperately needed to seclude myself at a table in The Cup or in Bracken with my laptop and process everything. Everything seemed to set me off or catch me off-guard. I was restless and agitated.
When I avoid making plans or tell people I am too busy even though I know all I am doing is spending the evening alone, it’s never personal. It’s never because I feel as though I need space from a particular person, and it’s not always because I want to run away from my problems.
I’ve realized I tend to surround myself with extroverts because those people help me step away from the corner in the room and join the conversation. They help me find homes within other people and test my boundaries. This is why when I meet other introverts, it catches me off-guard. I forget that other people are like me, I am not completely unique, and it takes a special kind of person to understand the importance of revitalization. It requires patience and empathy.
When I become overwhelmed, I remove myself from the onset of stimuli. It isn’t because I am depressed or angry or even sad. It’s simply because I need time to myself. I enjoy alone time and reflective thought.
I shut down, and that’s okay.
Lauren is a Ball State University alumna with a Bachelor's degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. She enjoys breakfast for dinner with a side of literary enjoyment.