Monday, December 15, 2008

The introvert. by Patresa Hartman

Today's late post is brought to you by:

Complete Mental Scattering...

which is brought to you by:

End of Semester.

***********

A long while ago, I read an article about introverted children. Specifically, children who are extroverts are energized by social interaction; children who are introverts are drained by it. The researchers' advice to parents of introverted children was to:

a) Understand the irritability their sons and daughters demonstrate after prolonged social interaction for what it is -- drained energy and a cry for solitude; and

b) Give them that solitude, because they need it in order to re-energize. They don't just want it; they need it in the same way our bodies need food and sleep.

When I read that article I felt an enormous sense of validation. I was an introverted child who came home from school and parties "talked out." I wasn't a mean, uncaring child, but when I was depleted, I became very irritable and could not hold a conversation without snapping and sneering. I hated that I snapped and sneered but couldn't stop myself from doing it. It was a frustrating dichotomy, and it was constant.

I am now an introverted adult with more or less the same issue. I call it my "social meter" and can feel when it expires. I still get irritable when it runs out and find conversation painful. The difference as an adult is that I understand where it comes from and can communicate what I need more constructively. The fact that I can communicate my need (not just want) for solitude means friends and family are more willing to give it to me. My relationships are healthier for it.

And so as I sit here on a Monday morning with an expired social meter, on the heels of weekend visits from two of my very closest friends and dinner parties with my family, I am thankful for a life full of people who love me even when I am a bear. My close friends forgive my quirks and crankiness; my family has endured a lifetime of expired social meters; and I married a man who has come to understand me enough not to take it personally when I can't speak.

Thank you, Good People.

5 comments:

Angie Ledbetter said...

One of my favorite posts, full of your usual insights. Glad your meter held out long enough for you to write about such an important (and under-discussed) issue. Hope Bear gets quiet soon. :)

Solomon said...

There's a book called The Introvert Advantage that I found quite helpful.

Barbara Quinn said...

Fascinating stuff, P!Boy, can I relate to the need for quiet and no one around for awhile. But I do love social things, just not too many in a day.

Kathryn Magendie said...

Gawd, get out my head, P -- Drained is the word...yes...over stimulated .... exhausted....

I use words like, "I find people facinating"...huh? yah....

but to be around them exhausts me...I have to take it is small doses.....

Ami said...

This explains so much about my own personality. Why haven't I heard of this research before?

Definitely going to pay attention to the bear and communicate my needs more this holiday season, when being overwhelmed by social gatherings is inevitable. Thanks for sharing this!

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