May. 30th, 2008

meorae: (Default)
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.

March 2010


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