Daily Archives: December 6, 2009

On Introversion

Happy St. Nicholas Day! This would be one of those traditions my family celebrated, loosely translated into Oma hiding a chocolate Santa Claus and my victoriously finding it. Every year I would *just* miss St. Nick stopping by, with a bag of chocolates in one hand and a hickory switch (to beat the bad kids with) in the other. I never did ask why, as Lutherans, we were celebrating a saint-based day. Such is the cognitive dissonance of the holiday season.


In the chronic pain/illness community, there is this anecdote referred to as The Spoon Theory. In short, like many other aspects of life, living with chronic pain/illness involves budgeting–in this case, managing the time and energy required to do what you need to while “sick.”

It occurred to me this morning that being an introvert requires a similar sort of budgeting. Not that I am equating introversion with disease. Introversion is one end of a spectrum. Both ends have advantages and disadvantages although extroversion is somewhat seen to be the norm. I am lucky in having friends and acquaintances that don’t mind when I fall off the radar once in a while. (Or perhaps they do mind and I’m too introverted to notice. That would be one of those disadvantages.)

Back to that budget. I was contemplating the online responses I owe people and how much energy it takes for me to be “out-going” in contrast to the very small amount of effort required of me to digest all the in-coming information and experiences. I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy interaction, online or otherwise, but it is taxing. If I don’t respond to an email or forum post quickly, it’s because my social energy budget has been tapped. Currently, there are a plethora of social engagements on my calendar, and while they sound like fun, they also sound *completely exhausting.*

To deviate a little from the budget analogy, certain things are more or less taxing. On the positive end, familiarity with people or the situation might not energize me, but makes for a less draining experience. I fear that alcohol might be soothing as well. Obviously, if I can stand back and listen without “in-putting,” I’m a happier camper as well. Therefore, a situation I’m unfamiliar with, where I know no one, and am required to interact is the worst possibility.

In summary, I would ask the extroverts of the world (or at least those that aren’t as far to the introvert end of the spectrum as I am) to be understanding. Don’t take it personally when the introvert you know bails on you or takes a few days extra in responding to an email. I have days when I’m out of spoons and talking to Eric about not much of anything is rough.