It’s actually impressive that the concept of introversion was mostly unbeknownst to me until the past couple of years. Not one time in my whole childhood, teenhood, or early adulthood did anyone suggest that my shyness, anxiety, or aversion to social situations (without alcohol in the equation) might be due—at least partly—to my being an introvert. I am happy and relieved to have an explanation for my faults now. I embrace being an introvert now. I feed my hunger for alone time and I reset a couple times a day. And I can now say that I’ve been able to all but solve my panic attack problem in doing so. But growing up, it was hard.
I grew up forced into a lot of social situations that made me really anxious. But I didn’t have an explanation and for over a decade, I struggled in school and all other social settings. Presently, I’ve been reading “Quiet” the past month or so and I have honestly never had so many “A-ha!” moments! After learning about the need for introverts to have opportunities to “re-charge” between social activities, I am saddened when I think back and realize that that never happened for me until I started cutting class in middle school. By then my anxiety had gotten so bad that bathroom breaks didn’t ease my mind anymore. Until then, I only came by some peace and quiet using the bathroom and the short 3 or so hours at home before I went to bed. It sucks to realize even more now that I am mother.
But, I don’t think parents, teachers, daycare teachers—anyone really gave any thought to the symptoms of introversion back then and making accommodations for a child. It wasn’t considered “normal” behavior. So kids were (and majority are still) forced to be social and do sports and they will eventually burn out. I know I did. It took awhile, but it happened and by then I had a whole lot more on my plate than just managing my introvert tendencies. I’m sure that’s all well-established at this point if you keep up with my blog. But I mention it so often because it has really shaped who I am. And the way I view the world. And parenting. Everything.
What was once really difficult (finding time to re-charge throughout the day) has evolved to be plentiful. But I still struggle when the holidays come around, or when I work too much. So I take caution to take care of myself more. I learn to be selfish and not overbook myself. I turn down open shifts even if I know I could wing it. I decline plans if I haven’t had a quiet night at home in a couple of days. I’ve seen the darkness of not taking care of myself and I want to do all that I can to not let myself revert back to that.
What I do find difficult is being able to balance being a mother, friend, wife, and worker while taking care of myself and not feeling like I’m being avoidant of my friends. I realize that I don’t spend nearly the time with them that I did a year ago and I often wonder if I’m being a piss-poor friend by keeping my down time dear to me. I know my husband struggles to understand anxiety and introversion but I do hope that he can notice the correlations between having downtime and less stress. I think it’s hard to understand for a lot of people. And probably appears like excuse behavior. But I guess fuck those people.