Leave Me Alone…Sometimes.

Options. They are crucial to success and fulfillment in so many of life’s endeavors. While there is evidence that having too many options at any given time can actually lead to a bit of mental paralysis, making decision making more difficult, my guess is that most would rather deal with the difficulty of having too many options, than that of having none.

As an introvert, I like to have options. The option to stay home. The option to go to small gatherings as opposed to huge ones. The option to behave in a quiet, laid back and removed manner on the occasions I do attend large, noisy gatherings. The option to recharge in the way most appropriate for me. (That term “recharge” comes up a lot in discussion of introverts, have you noticed that?)

I again emphasize the word, “option”. I have the desire and the right to make choices as an introvert that are healthiest, most enjoyable, and most comfortable for me. Yet the choices are mine, and when I am deprived of them, I can feel just as frustrated as the next man. (Or any extrovert.)

There are in fact times I prefer to not be alone. I attempt to rectify this, by inviting people over to my rural home. Or I ask people to join me for a movie in the nearby city. Even an introvert has times they’d rather not be alone.

If you know this blog, you know by now that those invitations are almost never accepted. Three times in the last month alone I asked my local acquaintances to do something with me, as I was not in a good place to be alone in a few cases. I was met with the usual crickets. That’s a hurtful thing at first, than it just pisses you off, frankly.

Yes, people could be busy…every single time. Or it could be I’m just not that popular. Obviously, many people find much about me that is unpleasant, or they would accept my invitations, say, at least a few times a year. I’m not sure what the issue is, but if any part of it is the underlying assumption that I want to be left alone because I’m an introvert, let’s dispel that here and now. (Though one would think that my saying on Facebook, “I’d prefer not to be alone this weekend, could someone come hang out with me, please” would have already made such a point.)

I do have to be alone sometimes. But often I am deprived of the option to be otherwise. Like any battery that is left on a charger for too long, I can get fried when I remain alone without contact for days or weeks at a time. I don’t think this is particularly unusual. Once I’m recharged, I too like being around people who appreciate me, you know. Don’t assume that because I am openly introverted that I’m lying when I say I want to do something with someone.

Nor should you assume that because I’m an introvert, I can’t be good company. You may be surprised at how worthwhile it is to spend some one-on-one time with an introvert. Don’t assume I’m going to request we do “boring” things if we spend time together. Sometimes boring is good, and there are things I won’t ever do, of course. But you won’t know what I’m willing to do if you assume my introversion means I’d rather be meditating all day. (Again, I want options, just like a real person.)

So how about we not  judge the introverted based on the fact that they need alone time. When we need it, we will take it. Once we’re adults we can speak for ourselves. We can even use complete sentences. But if we haven’t specifically said we’d like to be left alone, maybe consider inviting the introverts to your stuff once in a while. I can’t promise I will go every time, but I’d like to at least have the option.

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4 Comments

  1. So true. Introversion — and even social anxiety — do not necessarily equal antisocial.

    This past weekend, I went to a BBQ I felt obligated to attend. It was my husband’s family’s annual July 4 BBQ. We took separate cars to go over there, because we have an understanding. I tend to run out of energy after a couple hours of socializing. He thrives at these big social gatherings.

    In fact, he lasted eight hours at that BBQ.

    I lasted 10 minutes. Because I had a panic attack and had to flee before I burst into tears.

    But it’s not always like that. Because I work from home and spend a lot of time talking to my three cats, I love spending time with my friends. In fact, last week alone, I taught three yoga classes, went out on four different one-on-one outings, went out on a lunch outing with my husband and brother, and attended a second BBQ (where I managed to last two hours)! And I like to think I made for some pretty decent company. 😉 (Well, except that one time I was feeling crankypants.)

    Actually, that’s a crazy crap-load of socializing for someone like me. But introvert or extrovert, it’s so important to seek out community.

  2. Good points, as usual, Steph. I had a feeling you might be one of the ones who sympathized most with this particular post. =)

  3. mehnaz

    I’m a big believe in vibes.

    If I go into a situation thinking nobody will want to be around me anyway, nobody will, in fact, want to be around me. That’s just from personal experience. There is always a give and take in these situations. When you are invited out, you sometimes have to suck it up and go. So those times that you want to hang out with someone, they’ll take you up on it. It doesn’t mean you have to fake being rambunctious or over-the-top. If that’s not who you are, that’s fine. But you have to be engaged, and curious and WANTING to be there. If you are interested, people are interested in you. It’s a shallow world, but you have to work with what you have.

    It also is important to not use your introversion or want for options as a crutch (not saying you do – just some personal experience here). Sometimes having an option is perhaps akin to having a way to cop out. I know I use it sometimes. I don’t want to go to the party because I’m terrified, not because I had a particularly hard week and need time to recharge. Again, I tell myself to suck it up.

    Last, really is that social media is a terrible way in most cases to get people to hang out with you, at least I’ve found. If I post a status saying “Hey, does anyone want to see this movie with me on the weekend?” I get no responses. Ever. It’s open to the bystander effect really i.e. Someone probably answered already, so I won’t bother saying anything. Personal invitations work better, I find.

  4. Fair enough, Mehnaz. And if I were invited to things more often, I would certainly take some of that to heart. (Though I maintain to invite someone is to accept them for what they are, and not expect them to become something else.) The main thing, however, is that I don’t get invited, despite my willingness to do the inviting.

    As to the Facebook not being the best way to invite people, you’re right. But the issue extends to non-Facebook invites as well.

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