I’ve read a few books this year that have blown my mind, one of them was Quiet by Susan Cain. She talks about Introversion – what it is, what its like being one, and how they relate to the world around them. For me, the biggest thing I got from reading this book was accepting my own introversion and being ok with embracing it. I’ve always been ok with taking time for myself, just sitting and reading instead of going out (with a cup of tea of course!). I’ve always been proud of my bookworm nature, my love of science fiction and fantasy (I think these genres must attract introverts – their internal imaginative side has an outlet!), and my preference for fewer, strong friendships and relationships instead of a wide net of friends and acquaintances. Quiet gave me more confidence in these traits, and backed up and worked with everything else I’ve learned this year about taking the space and time to take care of myself.
So how do I recharge? I make sure I have some time every day that is just me, doing something I like. I know, every day! It probably sounds unachievable for some people! But for me its essential – my overly judgemental, callous side can present herself otherwise (an INTJ ego unchecked? Ugh, scary stuff!). Incorporating a meditation practice has made this easier – I now have a guaranteed 5 minutes a day to myself in a completely supportive, internalised environment, which oddly helps me get out of my head and be more present. I also take the time to write here, read an article that has sparked my wisdom, or even just a few minutes of taking the time to make a cup of tea for myself without thinking of anything else.
On a less regular basis, I also make sure that when I know I’ll be spending a chunk (a few hours or more) of time around extroverts, that I have some alone recharge time to myself. If I’ve already got a few extrovert-filled things happening, I might even say no to adding an extra one in. This isn’t a selfish act, for me its a self-preservation act. I know without my own space, and while spending lots of time just casually socialising with those who get their energy from others, I’m going to feel exhausted, cranky, and probably quite upset afterwards. I’ve found my biggest challenge when engaging with extroverts has come in the last few years – with R’s family. They’re almost exclusively extroverts, so I find his family events really exhausting. They love group games, loud unfocussed conversations and interactions, leaving me feeling exhausted, isolated and frustrated. In contrast, and this will be of no surprise to those of you who are also introverted, I’ve connected well especially with R’s parents in quieter, more relaxed environments, when its just us and them.
My awareness and acceptance, no its more than that – desire to thrive with this character trait is probably upsetting to others. I know for one, R had to have a good chat to his mum to explain my moments of quiet and reserve don’t mean I dislike anyone, and the fact that I actively seek out time to see her means I do like her! I think its very INTJ for me to want my choices to be demonstrative and explain enough of my truth, and for my sharing of my valuable social time to be seen for what it is – evidence of my strong feelings for something if I’m willing to sacrifice time I could be spending on reading a book and making a pot of tea. Of course she’s very different, hence the need for an explanation (INTJs of course dislike having to explain themselves to this level – clearly its obvious?). For a greater world interaction though, I’m much more willing to let someone react the way they’ve decided to, and if someone wants to know more about my choice to not attend an event or to sit back quietly then they can ask.
On a side note, I’ve become increasingly confused this year as to why people don’t just ask the damn question when they don’t know something. Its the single most obvious solution to many problems (don’t know why someone expressed themselves that way? Oh, maybe they do! Don’t you think the person who might know the most about it might be the best person to answer that question instead of working out the wrong answer all by yourself? No? Well sit there in your anger and spite then, I won’t stop you!). I get it can be scary to ask a question that might make you look stupid for a second, but I’d much prefer to look stupid for a second in the moment than feel stupid for days, months or years later over something that could have been easily cleared up. End Rant.
Amelia over at Nurture and Shine posted this video earlier today, and I love what she said about accepting your individuality and not fitting in. Being an introvert, I definitely need to embrace my need for quiet, space and alone time, for fewer stimulations and for afternoons spent just reading, or I tend to go a bit batty. If you’re an introvert, do you struggle with making your alone space? Or have you perfected the art too?
P.S I always find it funny when others comment on me being reserved or quiet. In my preferred environments I’m not. Not even a bit. More like “for the love of all that is holy, someone put some food in this girl’s mouth to shut her up!”. Its probably this contradiction that is the most INTJ thing about me. I’m quiet when I’m uninterested, out of my element or bored. I’m bubbly, loud and enthusiastic when I get to speak about things I know well, I love or I’m in those perfect one-on-one or not too many more situations. This is probably hard to understand if you know me just through this blog – I probably seem quite ‘loud’ – I write on here a lot, 65-ish posts in what, 4.5 months? That’s a lot of stuff to say and I don’t seem to be slowing down at all. My extremes are also not just quiet or loud, its the most extreme option of both. More like comatose v Tigger on crystal meth (sorry to any pre-schoolers reading). I’m sure other INTJs and Introverts can relate, let me know below!