When I was younger, I didn’t realize I was introverted. I always assumed my inability to focus was related to being ADD or something like that. At least that is what people told me I was. The people who know me best would not describe me as quiet, reserved, or anti-social. In fact, I’m actually quite loud and opinionated around those I am most comfortable with (unfortunately). I learned later in life that being introverted does not mean you are a quiet, reserved person, fearful of any social interaction. It just means that social interactions, particularly those which involve groups of people, are flat out exhausting. Simply stated, I can only handle being in a group of people for a short period of time before I have to leave, be alone, and recharge my batteries.
Generally, I have enough social energy stored up to spend an endless amount of time with one other person. I can focus on my conversation with that person. I can devote me energy to being with them. When you throw another person in the mix, it’s exhausting! What is worse is when these people are strangers or acquaintances. I can only handle that kind of experience for a very short period of time before the anxiety and exhaustion totally take over.
For introverts, small talk is completely stressful. I thrive in a conversation in which I can listen quietly, take the time to formulate my response carefully, and then dive into a deeper discussion. I am never more awkward than I am when I am trying to make conversation with an acquaintance or a stranger. It’s why writing comes so easily to me. I have the time to put my swirling thoughts together into a cohesive discussion. As opposed to, “uhh… so it’s raining huh? That’s great.”
It’s not that I can’t talk to people, or in front of people. I’m not shy. I just simply need time to plan and think about what I am going to say. If I don’t, I usually say something stupid, or something I don’t mean. OR I just stumble all over my words, and make a total fool of myself.
I am very easily over-stimulated. When too much is going on, or more than one person is talking to me at a time. I fall apart. When two people are talking to me at the same time I just want to scream “SHUT UP!” and run away and hide. I know what you are thinking, you are the queen of multitasking, and this makes no sense. It’s true, I thrive in chaos, and I can often complete 100 tasks at once. However, I am able to accomplish this on my own terms. With peace, quiet, and most importantly when I am alone. I need to be able to focus on each task without interruption. I also choose the time in which I complete these tasks very wisely. I know when I have enough energy to dedicate to specific tasks. I have learned over many years how to prepare myself to tackle these things. Which is exactly why I never answer the phone, even when people I love are calling. I need to be able to mentally prepare myself for a conversation. Not because I don’t want to talk, but because phone calls (see: small talk) take the MOST out of me emotionally.
Being an Introverted Stay-at-Home-Mom
As a stay-at-home-mom, being an introvert can make getting out and being social difficult. Something that is very important for kids, AND moms. Mom groups are totally awesome, but spending too much time with a group of moms I don’t know well is overwhelming for me. No matter how badly I want to become closer, and more comfortable with these people. It is a challenge for me. It’s a combination of my inability to make small talk, and my instant over-stimulation. I suddenly lose any ability to form reasonable sentences, and I have a strong desire to run away and go home. I’m working hard at overcoming these challenges, because I know how important social interaction is to my son. I want to get out of my comfort zone, to prove to him that he can too! Not to mention, I’ve met some really great people when I do come out of my shell!
I tend to be a perfectionist in everything that I do. As an introvert, I spend a lot of time thinking about what I could have done differently or better. What could I have said differently? Did he/she take that the wrong way? Do they understand me? After I push myself through an afternoon with a group of people, I end up spending the rest of the day playing it back in my head. Did the kids have fun? Do the other moms like me? It’s as if the emotional exhaustion of the morning lasts the rest of the day! A group outing is not something I can just schedule into my already busy day. For me, I really only have the emotional energy to handle one big event per day. And honestly, even that seems like a lot! If I have something to do at 1pm, I spend the entire morning preparing for it, and the entire evening recuperating from the excitement.
I love being a SAHM, but there are moments in which I feel like staying at work would have been the much easier choice. I miss the quiet solitude of my office. The peace of that morning cup of coffee with no one to bother me. I miss being able to take my lunch break and go for a walk, by myself. When I was working I missed my son when he was at daycare, but I loved the break of going to work. For me at least, that is what working felt like, a break. The easy choice. Deciding to stay home full-time, and give up any bit of “me time” I had left was a very difficult choice to make. At the end of the day, it was the right choice. Being home is where I belong, it is where God wants me to be in this season of life. I don’t regret it for one single second. In fact, I love even second of it. However, if you can’t find me one day, you count on finding me hiding out in the bathroom, scrolling through Instagram, just so I can enjoy some time alone 😉