Tag Archives: introvert

Introvert time

It’s been a big issue for us as a household this year. Ironically, while I’ve done a really good job of talking to my son about how he needs to keep an eye on his need for introvert time, I have entirely failed to factor this in for myself.

Part of the problem is that none of us really fit the normal model for introverts. Not least because we all have varying needs for extrovert time as well. Of the three of us, I think I’m the most extrovert. I need time with people. Some days I need spaces with lots of people. I need stages and audience and performance opportunities and attention and I revel in all of that. If I don’t get a sufficient amount of out there and extroverted time, I get sad.

At the same time, if I don’t get enough introvert time, I get sad. Silence, or quiet. Not speaking for hours. Reading, crafting, disappearing into my own head. One of the great things about my household is that we’re all like this so we can be around each other, and still be having our needful introvert time. I can’t usually do this with other people.

Over the last year, my working life has been much more people orientated. I did quite a lot of office work – which was people-laden. I’ve been doing events work for a local venue, which is hours of full on people-orientated stuff. We’ve been going out and doing book events, and steampunk events, and poetry nights and that’s all full of people, too. I’ve not been thinking about how this balances out, or what I might need for me.

I don’t know what the necessary equation is here. I’m a perverse enough creature that it probably changes all the time anyway. At the moment, my need for silence and retreat is massive. I’m going with that.

If there are neat boxes for people to fit into, I invariably find I need to spend time in both boxes, and time dangling awkwardly in the middle. I struggle with how people are divided up and labelled. I’m rational and emotional. Logical and intuitive. Introvert and extrovert. From a certain perspective I may only be consistent in my inconsistency. It’s difficult to know how to ask anyone to work with this – especially when I’m in retreat mode and not really inclined to people. I need to turn inwards, to reflect, and be separate. And no doubt, even while that inclination dominates me, I will have days, or hours, or odd moments of being totally people-orientated and it will be confusing for me as much as for anyone trying to deal with all of that.

The biggest thing for me at the moment is a refusal to be tidy and convenient. I’ve done so much trying to fit in. I am the square peg for so many round holes, and I don’t want to pare myself down to fit anymore. I want the space for my own awkwardness, for my untidy emotions, for just how cold my reasoning can be, for my inability to do small talk, my lack of natural capacity for making empty, conciliatory noises, my inability to just go along with things. I can’t face trying to fit in any more, and I have pulled away from almost every place where I might have to do that. It gives me more room to breathe.

At some point, my inner tide will turn and I’ll come back in extravert mode, and I think I will still be awkward, over-emotional, uncooperative, untidy… and I have no idea how that will play out because it may be a good deal less quiet… unquiet even.


Family time

One of the things that has become really important to me in the last six months or so, is family time. Not in an organised, doing things sort of way, but the time –usually at weekends – when the three of us just slum around together.

I like it because this is time when I have to make very little effort – none of us do. We just do the things we enjoy – typically reading, crafting, listening to stuff, watching films, eating… we can go long periods without anyone saying anything much, checking in only when there’s something good to share. I think this is the natural outcome for a bunch of somewhat introverted people sharing a small space. I really value not having to make small talk or be entertaining.

Part of why this time has become precious is that it’s a good deal more scarce than it used to be. In the boat years, the three of us lived in a tiny space and spent a lot of time together. Now, we all have more going on, and we have a far more involved – and entirely wonderful – social life. But it means those quiet times really shine out. I appreciate them more for them not being the only option I have most days.

I’ve always been a funny mix of introvert and extrovert and I don’t fit well in either box. I crave human contact, I can be intensely social, I can deal with large groups of people in noisy spaces, and if I don’t get enough social time, I become sad. I have an equal need for intensely quiet time without too many other people around. I used to need total solitude for some hours every day, but that’s not been a thing for a few years now. My husband and son give me the space and the peace I need so I can do my introvert time with them in the mix.

When things are crazy-busy, nothing seems more luxurious than a Sunday afternoon with nothing planned, nowhere to go and nothing specific to do.