Sunday, November 18, 2007

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year--Not!!

Ooo! You look at the title of the entry and you might be thinking, "What is she talking about?" What I'm talking about, my friends, is that 25% of the population that fall into the area of preferring introversion. If you have ever taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®, you may well have a sense of what it is that you prefer. In the discussion of Extraversion vs. Introversion (by the way, "Extraversion" is spelled correctly because the original spelling had an "a" instead of an "o") there are some preferences in what gives us energy and what leaves us like boneless chickens.

This entry is all about Introverts who might be looking ahead at the calendar and thinking, "Oh, Heavens, here comes all this togetherness at the holidays!" Actually it would probably be like this, "...all this togetherness." (with no exclamation mark, just a period)

Who are introverts? They are not shy people, my friend. We do them a huge disservice by confusing shyness with introversion. Shyness refers to degree of self confidence and introversion is more about needing time alone. In fact, time alone is not a luxury; it is a NECESSITY. In fact if these folks are with people ALLLL day long and then immediately go home and are with people ALLLL night long, and there is not 45 minutes to an hour of alone time built in, they will be STRESSED out.

Example: We see someone who usually lunches alone. We think to ourselves, "We feel sorry for that person." And then we proceed with a well-intentioned, "Come on, have lunch with me." And the introvert responds with, "Oh, that's OK, I'll just sit here and _____ (insert: read, pray, contemplate my navel or whatever)

We respond with, "Come on!" Thinking: "Poor thing, doesn't have any friends!" Not realizing that the person actually WANTS to be alone and doesn't feel a bit pitiful.

The introvert puts a sign outside his or her cubicle: "Working on project, please don't interrupt." Extraverts barge on in, thinking it must apply to everybody else.

The introvert shows up to work early, just to have some time alone, and the Extravert thinks, "Oh, goodie, this person is here early, just for my convenience."

The introvert gets up earlier than everyone in the house or goes to bed later than everyone else, trying to get some precious time alone. Keep in mind, it must be WAKING time and not sleeping. Sleeping just doesn't do the trick. And now the poor introvert is sleep deprived, trying to get some time alone.

The introvert turns on the History channel where some war is being played on a continuous loop (at least that's what it looks like to me) but is not really watching the T.V.; it is just "white noise" to get some alone time.

How did I get so smart? Because I am married to an introvert! When I first married John and he would disappear for hours right after dinner, I thought that he didn't love me or was socially handicapped. I really thought that after a few years of being married to me, he would get over this "problem." When I finally learned about introversion, I realized how I had trampled over his time alone. The big moment came when he was listening to "Car Talk" and I asked him a question in the middle of the show. He said, "Honey, I don't ask for much, but can I have this hour uninterrupted?" Yikes!! He was right!!

How have I reformed?
  • I get his running clothes clean every single Sunday so he can run everyday at the Y
  • I do a lot of work with his company, but I never intrude on his lunch time
  • I make sure that if we have a lot of company on the weekend, that I leave the house for a few hours on Sunday night so he can have time alone
  • I do not rush him home at night because I realize that he is probably having to play "catch up" after being bombarded with extraverts all day
  • I have taught our daughter about introversion and now she is worried about how he is going to get time alone when we are all on vacation together
  • I realize that the introverted family members will get worn out from all this holiday time together and don't need me to make derisive comments that they are being antisocial if they need to pull back for little while
That's why we have been married for almost 29 years. That's why I will make sure that during all this family time, my sweetie can escape so he can really enjoy the holidays. And that will be the best gift of all.

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