I am an introvert – I make no secret of this. With that, I definitely and emphatically have a spoon quota for socialization. I used to get around this at school and my pre-married life by taking advantage of group settings; if there was a large group of people I was friends with, then I could tough out a few hours or a weekend amongst them, though it would take a physical toll that usually manifested itself as fever blisters and other such fun mouth ulcers. I also used to drink heavily to cope, which obviously – not ideal. As I’ve gotten older (and sobered up!), it’s become increasingly difficult to find group situations to be amongst; while easier in youth due to being able to take more abuse, it is harder at this stage in my life because I flat-out do not have the resources to cultivate myself within a new group.
I was reminded of this especially last night, when going through my Google Plus feed. One of my friends has a bevvy of physical woes, and has become a bit of a superstar on the site by sharing herself outwardly and inwardly with people. I am pleased for her and admire what she does, but when she was once again proselytizing the goodness of the Hangout feature, I finally felt the need to explain how it doesn’t take into account people like myself. I would’ve left off, but after being invited out of the blue to a Hangout (invite ignored, though sentiment appreciated!) by said friend in the past week, I felt she deserved an explanation. It went like this:
‘I appreciate what you suggest for Hangouts, but they’re two degrees past my comfort zone. I can manage to text chat with my best friends daily, and SOMETIMES another person. I can do voice chat once or twice a month under duress, and save face-to-face chatting for ever other month with my family. I could only really hack DJing ’cause it was me going out, and nothing coming back vocally or visually. :)’
People in any form exhaust me, and I presume, I’m not the only one. At least being able to explain this cogently gives me a small tool to use in my favor – being able to explain to friends that I am not being an ass by saying ‘you come chat to ME‘. No, it means I can hopefully better explain, ‘Socialization exhausts me and robs me of energy I need to get by day to day. I value you enough that if you value me enough to come to me, I will do my best to take energy I do.not.have and expend it on you.‘ And I generally will and do, and as one of my best friends knows – if you are willing to keep doing this, I will start responding to it naturally and reciprocate. Because that is the nature of friendship relationship – mutual valuation and affection. But that requires people having the base respect for me to understand that I cannot start it. I can want to all I want, but I can.not.start.it without risking hurting myself. Once there is an established base, it is easier for me to find energy to keep an already moving machine oiled!
So we’ll see – I feel good having a slightly better understanding of my brain’s position on things. I don’t think it will help me with especially extroverted people on the periphery of my life, but maybe it will provide some modicum of comfort to friends who do not understand why I almost never message them.
What about the rest of you? I know that heatherbat appreciates this. Perhaps it’s like something I speculated on a few months back – perhaps all of us introverts are in our little glass rooms, waiting for people to break in. I really don’t know; I can only know my own situation intimately. 🙂