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[personal profile] meorae
I'm not sure I've ever written about introversion or how it affects me, but it's something I've thought about over the past couple of years. I'm introverted. I prefer being alone to being in large groups of people. I do enjoy getting together with my friends, even if with the crew, that involves getting together with 15 people, but I need time to be by myself. For the most part, when I'm by myself, I don't have anything scheduled for specific times. If I feel like it, I can sit and stare at the wall for an hour, or I can read, or I can check my email. And for some reason I prioritize scheduled things - school, club meetings, doctor's appointments, babysitting, parties - higher than the time I need alone because the time alone isn't scheduled and it's "free time."

Over the summer, and during the school year as well, when one of my neighbors asks me to babysit, I have trouble saying no because I don't have anything else scheduled. I then can't say no when they ask me to stay an extra hour, because what would I be doing if I didn't stay? But I do need that time to be by myself. And when I don't have that time, I become irritable and exhausted. And yet, I consider time spent alone in my room as wasted no matter what I do, while a day spent just lazing outside with people is a day well spent. Which would be irrational even if I wasn't an introvert. I should judge how well I spend my time by what I accomplish, not by whether I'm with other people or not.

So I feel bad when I spend too much time alone, but I become irritable and tired when I don't spend enough time alone. And it's tough to strike the right balance between the two. Especially because it's really easy for me to go too far to either side. On the alone side (which I only fall into during vacations or an extended illness as school is forced socialization), I end up sleeping too much, eating either too little or too much and falling into a depressed, lonely state. When I snap out of it and spend some time with other people, I've noticed that that period of time alone becomes blurry in my memory. On the other side, spending too much time around other people makes me really tired and eventually I become overwhelmed and have to get away from everyone and everything.

The problem is I typically explain all of this away as mood swings or walking around too much or just being sick and so I don't modify my behavior. I just realize a week later, oh I was feeling depressed this week because I spent five days in front of my computer without talking to anyone, or oh I was really exhausted this week because I was hanging out with a bunch of people every day.

The other thing I've noticed is, my family has no effect on this. Being around my family for extended periods of time is as bad as being alone for extended periods of time. On the other hand, any house guests (who aren't my cats, brother or parents) have the same effect as spending too much time with other people, even if my interactions with them are minimal. Their presence in the house and at meals is enough to drain me of energy and make me irritable. I'm actually surprised that my weekend in Baltimore went fine even though I was around other people constantly. I'm not surprised that I'm feeling drained of energy and antisocial today, though. I've been spending all of my time with other people, plus we also have a house guest.

I still need to think about this more.

Date: 2008-05-31 04:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] arrowwhiskers.livejournal.com
It was really interesting reading this, because I found myself personally agreeing with a large amount of it.

Especially about scheduling free time...it's easy to think "well this time is free and I'll just waste it doing nothing, which is a shame", but at the same time, if you set that time aside as relaxation time and then fill it up with socializing, that's basically as helpful and healthy as deciding to go running instead of sleeping. The sleep may seem like wasted time, but it's so necessary. If you went running every time you had a chance to sleep and never ended up sleeping, it's a no-brainer that you'd end up crumbling almost immediately--and with social energy its the same thing, though for some reason it's harder to visualize it.
It's also easy, for me anyway, to find myself lying to come up with excuses not to meet up with people or follow through with plans simply because it seems too pathetic to say "I'm tired and really need to spend the time alone". Even so, I've been trying to teach myself to just say it. I think the bottom line is that it's not a lame excuse, it's a very valid one, and it's important to spend as much time as you need refueling so that when you do see your friends, you can enjoy the interaction.

It's also really hard if you have friends without this problem, so your actions can seem like a more personal affront...but I think that after proper discussion most people figure out that in truth it's not. In any case, you seem to deal with the problem pretty well, and what with summer and everything I hope that you'll have plenty of time for vegging out and spending time with friends both. :)

Date: 2008-05-31 06:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] 1reallyblue1.livejournal.com
Like arrowwhiskers, I do find myself agreeing with most of what you've said up there.

I've found that I go insane if I don't get out of the house the entire day. And by "insane" I mean depressed, moody and irritable with a high chance of tears over nothing. Even when I do cry, I don't have any idea as to the reason- I just do.

Also, I'm worried about it combining with college. Like, I don't want to be the girl who sits in her room all day with no friends but nor do I want to be around people and sociable ALL THE TIME because I would become bitchy like no other. Which happens when I'm tired either physically or emotionally. Do you have any plans on how you'll deal? Two heads are better than one. One of my ideas, though, is to make sure that I go to a meal with at least somebody but not necessarily social throughout the day, if that makes sense. Just to force myself to socialize and get out but not to a great extent- I'll have to leave the room to get food anyway.

Date: 2008-05-31 10:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] acern.livejournal.com
Wow, that sounds sucktastic. I've got this creeping suspicion that I do that too, and include my family in there, which is why I get ticked off at them when they bug me.

Good thing that won't stop me from showing up at your house to bug you all the time. >:D You can't get rid of me.

Date: 2008-06-05 05:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] l33tspike.livejournal.com
I have the tendency to feel guilty whenever I don't go to social things and it's only recently when I've been at Wheaton and had the ability to see people often that I've realized that sometimes social times aren't enjoyable or that sometimes alone time is more enjoyable.

I also think it's important to recognize that what you have right now is a certain style of alone time and a certain style of social time. So your understanding of how each effects you might change as/if your styles change. I try to experiment a little to find which styles I like.

I liked the way you wrote this. It's got a bit of detachment to it and I'm fond of that in writing.

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