The High-Functioning Introvert

As good an excuse as any

I’m sitting here in a Work from Home Café (is that a thing? I was going to say Internet Café but we’re not in the 90s, so I think I’ll stick with WFH Café). I mean, a lot of people her are working from home…in a cafe, but you can also just sit and drink coffee and eat cake if you want to (and I am). But I thought I’d bring my laptop along and force myself to write a blog, since I’m a captive audience and all *sigh*. But lo, they’ve just announced they have no internet today (yay…! I mean, boo!). But never fear, I can use the laptop’s hard drive to write this post *sigh*, I just won’t be able to upload it to WordPress until later. That’s if it makes the cut, that is. It’s not that I don’t want to write a blog, it’s just so hard to sit down and commit to it. Once the first paragraph is done, though, I’m usually home free. Ah, first paragraph is done – not feeling especially home free just yet…

I’m currently on annual leave as we speak. OOO (out of office, I know…you knew that). I’m not doing anything special, just chilling out and hanging around. Y’know, all the things I do best. It’s Easter school holiday time here in Blighty, but I’ve got to the point in motherhood where I don’t really need to take the school holidays off anymore. My eldest has flown the coop to become a fully-fledged adult *sob* and my youngest is fifteen and is studying like a demon for her GCSEs – so in all honesty she’d probably rather I was at work and not pestering her to talk to me. And my husband is working away, so really, I’m just annual-leaving on my own here. Which is fine. And it’s made me do something I don’t normally do. I decided this week to be fairly sociable. Eeek.

They have a point…

Something you may not know about me (but you probably do if you read between the lines in any of my blogs) is that I’m a bit of an introvert. Not a full-on keep-to-myself stay-indoors-at-all-costs recluse-like introvert. I’m not agoraphobic and I hide my chosen solitude pretty well. I manage to hold down a job which requires me to talk to strangers and colleagues all day long. I think I might even come across as rather gregarious. My clinical banter is legendary. But it’s something I have to switch on when I step into the office, and it’s something that has worn down to nothing by the time I walk back out of the door. It isn’t fake; the jokes are real and I’d class myself as friendly and approachable, but the extrovert routine takes actual energy and after a while it drains my batteries. And I get to the point where I need to go home and isolate myself to recharge those batteries again.

The outer sanctum of truth

I come from a shy people. But I do not consider myself shy, especially. I would say I was probably the least shy of my six siblings (they may wish to fight me on this, but I stand by it). I have shyness in me, of course – but I find shyness limiting, so choose not to be. Some might say it’s not something you can choose, but it is something you can cover up. But you cannot escape those introvert genes. So, rather, I’d call myself a high-functioning introvert.

It isn’t that I didn’t want to see the friends and relatives I have managed to meet up with this week. I did. I knew (deep down) I was going to enjoy myself and have a laugh and a catch up. But it was something I needed to psyche myself up for because I knew my social energy reserves would take a battering. And most of the people I choose to be friends with (or be relatives of) know my failings and understand me. A lot of them share the same trait – which is why I choose to be friends or be related to/with them. It isn’t standoffishness or a general dislike of people; it’s a personality trait you cannot change. You can overcome it and rise above it for a time, but you will always be an introvert. 

Not me, just for the LOLs

My children will forgive me for admitting that they too share these introverted genes. My eldest has to write down a rough outline of her patter prior to an official telephone call. My youngest will pre-arrange and rehearse conversation pieces before going out with people she doesn’t know terribly well. But they manage life fairly splendidly in my opinion. Every parent evening I ever attended had the obligatory teacher advising me that my kids didn’t put their hands up in class enough or interact in group work enough. Yeah? And? So? Do they get good grades? Yes? Then what does it matter? I believe being an introvert (whether in childhood or adulthood) ought to be acceptable. The older you get the better you become at blending in around normal folk. But you can’t dispel it, and there’s no point railing against it either.

You can’t argue with the stats

When I go out with friends or work colleagues (who are also friends, for the record) for an evening of socialising, it takes preparation. Whilst beautifying myself there is usually a gin and tonic to be had (I absolutely must make it clear that alcohol is something I can take or leave and I barely touch it at home, but one G&T takes the edge off when going out to meet people for the evening). Inhibitions abated, I arrive the life and soul of the party (go big or go home, that’s what I say [see picture above]). I’m super lairy (number 2 in the dictionary definition); the jokes are firing, the bants are flowing. I am ALL IN. But bear in mind it’s like winding up a clockwork toy, and the energy will inevitably run down. Imagine a toy monkey with crashing symbols – ‘CRASH, CRASH, CRASH, CRASH…crash…cra…*silence*. I can actually pinpoint the precise moment in the night when that happens. I no longer have a thing to say. I’m not angry or grumpy or moody. I just have zero left. I’m ‘squid-lipped’ (this is an analogy coined by my brother-in-law. It pertains to one sitting very quietly with crossed arms and pursed lips – nothing left to contribute). And that’s me – I’m done, no energy remaining to expend. The peace and quiet of my home will be calling. I need to be alone, read a book, do some yoga – recharge.

Out of Office

I tell you this purely so that you’ll understand the workings of an introvert’s mind if you aren’t acquainted with one. It’s not something to be ashamed of. I don’t think my sociable husband entirely gets it either; he maybe thinks me self-isolating. But I’m not. I like company, I’d go as far as to say I need it (in perhaps smaller doses than normal, even if I don’t think I want any). Okay, so my hobbies are largely solitary; lone pursuits (gym [AirPods in, baseball cap down over eyes], yoga [on my own in my bedroom with a scented candle and mat], writing [self-explanatory]), but I do attend a weekly choir for God’s sake, and there are actual people I converse with there! I just happen to be super happy with my own company a greater part of the time. I love my nuclear family – I can spend almost large quantities of time with them. And I love seeing other family and friends (even if I have to talk myself into it). As Barbara Streisand says, ‘people need people’. And she’s right; as awesome as I am, there is only so much of me even I can stand. But I actually think it’s healthier to be content with yourself than not – and not be dependant on the validation of others. Because if you do end up entirely alone one day (it can happen), people like me will fare better. We have had an awful lot more practice.

7 thoughts on “The High-Functioning Introvert

  1. You write books that are sharp and a blog post such as this like an extroverted bulldozer; entertaining and thoughtful stuff. You are somewhat “introverted” only insofar, I bet, in terms of interacting in person after a certain point and with non-family. Your strength is in the written form and that is fine. Myself, I like a good in person chat, but I am useless at small talk with strangers (my wife can “work a room” much better than I can). I also know I prefer to express myself more in writing than I do, say, by speaking on the phone (I would always prefer to write an email than ring anyone) and that is classic “lean introvert.” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been an introvert for as long as I can remember (although, I can’t truly remember that far back). I was not very assertive at school but managed to keep in the ‘A’ classes throughout.
    I was beginning to find my feet when I started full-time employment at the printing works (compositor) but then I got ‘hit’ badly with the onset of AS.

    I managed to keep working full-time for twenty-five years but in the end I was literally crawling up the stairs when I got home most days. I developed the tell-tail stoop and that was hard to take as I became even more of an introvert.

    Thankfully after a risky spine operation, I could hold my head up and say; “I may be an introvert but I’m much more alert”.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It did make a difference, even though I was in hospital for four months due to complications, including sepsis. It was touch and go weather I would make it at one time.


  3. So much of what you just wrote resonates with me. My immediate family as always been my comfort zone, and even more so after my husband died relatively young, and as I get older the pull of my own space gets stronger. I like people, i work well with people, i just struggle to find the enthusiasm to actually go out and “socialise”, when I know I can be just as happy at home. However, one day my youngest (who is now 25) will probably leave this nest, and then my nemesis will strike: I do not like/do not do well, being alone (which is totally different that being lonely). Thanks for articulating many of he things i just “feel” but can’t explain.

    Liked by 1 person

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