I’m an introvert, and it seems that from my digital communication (and having worked as “talent” for many years) people assume I’m an extrovert. Being introverted does not mean that I am anti-social it simply means that unlike an extrovert I do not gain energy by being among large groups of people and attending social events. Being surrounded by constant stimuli makes me exhausted and tune out my surroundings. Social events where one is expected to have conversations with many people and to be in noisy places where there is no peace and quiet or time for reflection is not what I typically want to do with my relaxation time. My work often requires me to put myself in these types of settings and I willingly do so because it’s for work and I enjoy my work. However, in my so called “free time” I prefer to do solitary activities or spend time one on one with friends, or small groups. Spending my free time in such a way allows me to recover from the demands of my working life. I used to berate myself for not enjoying going to bars, clubs, or social events and I thought something was wrong with me because I’d return home exhausted from trying to have “fun” with my extroverted friends. (Lots of reading about personality types taught me that the structure of society in America is extrovert dominated, so it’s only natural I felt like an outsider.) Time, research, and self-reflection have allowed me to be comfortable with my introverted self and I no longer feel obliged to have “fun” with the extroverted social butterflies. I now try and socialize in a way that leaves me feeling energized and doesn’t feel like it’s sucking my life energy out of me.
When people that only know me online meet me in person, I tend to feel as if I am not living up to their expectations because I can be very quiet, and don’t always have much to say (or I do, but it’s not “light and social” or brief conversation). The fact that I’ve heard several times over from people that they perceive me to be snobby, haughty, and stuck up because I’m happy standing somewhere and quietly observing a situation and being an “armchair philosopher” in my head when placed in social settings has only served to exasperate my social anxiety. I like to think things over before I say them, and feel far more comfortable expressing my thoughts in the written word where I can have the time to properly formulate my thoughts and work them out on paper. On top of all that, I don’t have much of an internal filter, so I tend to not want to speak freely because my views are quite different than most and I like to avoid conflict, drama, and offended people. Sometimes, I have no idea what to talk about! I’m not the kind of person that likes to talk just to talk.
We live in a society where we can be reached by so many different methods of digital communication; phone calls, text messages, social media, chat windows, and e-mails to name a few and it is just too much for someone like me who does not do well with exposure to constant stimuli. To be honest, I just don’t have the time or desire to be available to anyone and everyone all of the time. I’ve discovered over the years that I cannot do my job effectively if I cannot focus on the task ahead of me. I seem to accomplish much less by multi-tasking than by focusing my attention on one task and completing it, then moving on to another. In 2012, I have consciously attempted to make myself less digitally and physically available so that I can free up time to do work on some goals that are very important to me. (I’ll be writing more about this as well at a later date.)
I do want to be able to share with others things I’ve learned, and share information about my passions, savings on consumer products, tips for living a non-toxic life, urban gardening, and photos of my travels and moments from my working life and will be using social media for this purpose. When you see me in person I don’t always have the time or energy to have a conversation, so please don’t be offended if I politely decline to engage in one. It’s not anything personal.
I have a demanding working life, and that is part of my version of fun and what I thrive on. I really do love the work I do and tend to work all the time. I work so much out of necessity as well as pleasure. (I think the necessity part is a subject for another blog post so I won’t expand here.) In the average day I only have a few hours to myself that I am not working and those are generally consumed with eating, taking care of chores, maintaining my garden, and trying to visit my family more than once every few month. Then there’s the task of trying to go to family birthday parties and holiday celebrations, which it seems like there is one at least once a month. Oh, and I have to find time to exercise so that I can keep myself in shape to do my job!
I’m not complaining, I love my life. I am living it exactly as I want to. I wanted to write this so that you may have a glimpse into who I am and a better understanding of where I’m coming from. Lastly, I value quality of communication and connection over quantity and feel as if my digital habits have left me feeling disconnected and less in touch and neglectful of the important relationships in my life. I don’t want to neglect those relationships anymore. I’m going to keep my social media accounts open and active and continue to write blog posts as a means of self-expression and an outlet for bringing light to issues that are important to me and to allow people who are interested in my life a feeling of connection. I will however be spending less time on these accounts so that I can have more time for person to person connections. I want to connect out there in the physical world and take the time to have meaningful conversations.
So, I don’t think I am better than you, I’m not being stuck up, I don’t think you’re “un-cool”, and just because I decline an invitation doesn’t mean I don’t care. All it means is that, it didn’t work for me that day or that moment to attend your something or have that conversation, and that I’m an introverted, workaholic that set the bar pretty high for myself and that I have some personal and financial obligations to take care of, which I committed myself to. 🙂
Sending you all love, and looking forward to the moments when our paths do cross (and hoping they cross somewhere quiet ,lovely, and in nature or where there’s a delicious meal involved).