At least once a week, I come across the newest post on How To Love Your Introvert. Each article touches a little bit on the psychology of needing to be alone, offers something about the physiology of an overwhelmed brain, and then gives practical tips for how someone might love the person in her circle who seems to be an antisocial recluse.
I love these articles.
I spent the first thirty years of my life as a hypersocial extrovert -- we're talking off-the-charts, people. You simply couldn't put me away. I was out there to live and laugh and love with abundance. But then, in the span of three minutes or one night or a year, depending on how you measure the duration of Robb's death, I became an introvert. The blinds closed, the porch light flipped off, and I just wanted to be a l o n e.
If I may speak for the general population of introverts, the reason we love these articles is because they speak for us. And let's be honest: we are a people who would rather not speak. If someone's going to write an article explaining what makes us tired, setting boundaries for us, and asking others to be nice and give us a little space, then it's just heaps of easier to post that on your wall or on the bulletin board in the break room.
We read it and we think, "Yes. Yes. Yes! This is it. This is me. Like. Share. What she said."
I think the percentages have gotten a little heavy in our favor. We're quiet people in a noisy world, and we're asking them to please, please, please accommodate and love us well. But are we challenging ourselves to love them back? Or better yet, love them first?
My tendency is to withdraw my extremities and slap a Post-it Note on my turtle shell that says, "Don't Call Me; I'll Call You." But maybe I can leave a grace note instead.
So, here are my suggestions: Five Ways Introverts Can Choose to Love Someone When They Really Just Want to Disappear.
1. Smile. There's a whole lot of friendship in eye contact and a smile. I hear you -- I know what you're thinking: "But if I make eye contact and smile, they might want to talk to me and then I'll feel trapped and I can already sense my blood pressure going up and I might need to shrivel up and die." Hello, cart? Meet the horse. Let's not get ahead of ourselves. The truth is a smile costs you nothing, there's more where that came from, and it's good for everyone involved.
2. Be honest about your own boundaries. Speak for yourself as confidently as you would for someone else. I don't mean speaking in third person weirdness, like, "Tricia needs a break right now." But if you were tasked to care for someone in need, if it were your job to advocate and represent their well being, then you would watch out for them, keep an eye for oncoming traffic and obstacles, and know when to clear a path for them to exit the scene. This might be a newsflash, but you are tasked with the role to represent and advocate for yourself. If you know what you need, say it with grace and honesty. Take care of you.
To find my other three suggestions for fellow introverts, you can click here and finish the article in the Lifestyle Column on PJMedia.com.