This world is an extrovert’s world. We are encouraged to socialize, to party, to go for coffee, to attend school, to work. It seems that almost constantly we are being encouraged to be around people, but not all people are designed to live that way.
People often look at extroverts as being outgoing, friendly, and social, while introverts are looked at as shy, antisocial, and awkward. It’s not quite that simple. In reality, extroverts are simply those who are energized by being with people, while introverts find themselves drained spending time with people. An extrovert is tired out by staying home alone, they want to be “doing”! An introvert needs that recharge time alone or else they burn out, and that is not an option that’s always given to people.
Many students work at least one job while attending school full time. They have work, school, friends, family, homework, and regular life-tasks to deal with. For an extrovert this can be tiring but invigorating. For an introvert this can equate complete burn out.
I am an introvert, a relatively social introvert, but an introvert. I am quite happy to chat with people, to hang out with friends, and to speak up in class, but if I have to go straight into doing something else without some time to recharge I frequently find myself plagued by headaches as I grow crankier and more antisocial. As my stream of social energy is rapidly depleted I recoil into myself like a wounded animal, striking out at those who attempt contact.
Extroverts rarely seem to understand this feeling and can often make things worse by trying to “talk it out”. Here are some tips for when dealing with your dried up Introvert:
- Talk as little as possible. Your Introvert doesn’t have much energy to listen right now. This may sound silly, but it’s true. Listening can take a lot of energy that simply isn’t there to use.
- Gently check when the last time your Introvert ate or drank was. They may be dehydrated or hangry (hungry-angry) as well as over-spent. Grab them some water or a snack and leave them to it.
- Leave them alone. Seriously, just do number 2 and leave. Your Introvert is not angry at you, they’re not needing help or counselling, they just need some time. Wait for them to come back to you because they will. They’ll sheepishly slink back over in half an hour or so, after an episode of T.V. or a chapter of their book, or they’ll bounce back into the room after a nap as if nothing ever happened. This is okay, this is normal. This is dealing with an Introvert.
- The most important thing about dealing with your Introvert is, don’t try to make them become an extrovert. They can’t, this is how their mind works, and that is alright. If they’re drawing back from a group chat, let them go. They may just need to listen from the sidelines and gather their strength for the next round. Let them take their time outs, let them have their quiet car rides when they need them.
As an Extrovert, you don’t have to necessarily have to fully understand your Introvert’s perspective, but with a little bit of consideration, you can help.
For more help in understanding your Introvert, check out Dr. Carmella’s Guide to Understanding the Introverted! (It has pictures!)