Introverts Existing With Extroverts

It is so impossible, as an introvert and as someone who struggles with anxiety and depression, to make plans with people in advanced. I never know how I’m going to wake up feeling- am I going to feel like staying in, doing crafts and reading in my room by myself, or will I actually be able to handle the company of someone else outside of the house?

For some reason I make a lot of extroverted friends at school. Them, being the extroverts that they are, want me to do spontaneous things that go against what calms my brain(i need to have a plan of action before we do anything!)- and most of the time I just go along with it.

Hanging out with extroverts is exhausting, but if it’s just for the day, or for a short period of time, I can handle it. I can morph myself into someone who they enjoy and who enjoys them.

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Hanging out with introverts is a lot easier for me- they don’t want to constantly talk or do anything or be around a lot of people, and not to generalize, but in my experience they just understand my social cues, when most people don’t. With my actions, I try to be as transparent as I can about what I want, but for some reason a lot of my extrovert friends don’t recognize these communications. If they’re talking a lot, and I stop replying as much or stop having much to say, that’s me feeling worn out from the constant ambush of activity in my brain, and it’s me saying I need a break. And I know that people who aren’t like me won’t recognize what these cues mean, so I don’t blame them.

I spontaneously went to the upper peninsular of Michigan with an outgoing friend for two days, and before hand I was so stressed out about how I was going to be feeling around him- was I going to want to crawl up in my shell, and not be able to handle his energy?

Spending those two days with him taught me something about how to make this more enjoyable for the future. To be honest, I learned most of these tips after the fact- after I had sat listening to him talk and talk and talk, when alls I wanted was an hour to process everything that had already been talked about- or even a half an hour to read a book, or to just empty my mind.

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If you’re an introvert who is hanging out with someone who isn’t one- they don’t actually understand how you react to their personality, no matter how many times you tell them you get anti social or like to be alone. Since you’re hanging out with them, they think you are ready to deal with their personality (which is not the case. We love your personality, but we need it in doses. Nothing personal.) You need to TELL them exactly what you need out of them. 

On the car ride up, which was about four hours, my friend and I talked and talked for about the first hour. I was thriving off of their energy, until finally I used it all up. I started getting cranky and quiet because I just wanted time to myself. I thought that me being suddenly quiet was cue enough, but I guess it wasn’t. I didn’t tell him that I wanted a minute to read, or let myself relax. I just sat there being cranky, when I should have been having fun. I could’ve told him that I simply wanted silence and that would’ve solved everything. The trip would’ve been a lot more enjoyable.

There were times when I explicitly talked about what was giving me anxiety (such as being so physically close to people) and I thought this was me telling him what I needed or wanted, but really it was just me being passive aggressive. That wasn’t nice of me. We were standing near a group of people and he was also standing close to me, so I said I was feeling claustrophobic and stepped away from everyone. He didn’t understand that even one person(him) standing next to me at that moment was too much, so he followed me and continued talking and standing next to me (which is what friends do!). I got agitated and excused myself to the bathroom, just so I could go and sit and be by myself. I felt rude. I felt like a bad person. I felt sad that I let my anxiety seclude me to the bathroom alone. All of this could have been solved by me actually asking for what I needed. I needed space- from him, from everyone. It’s never anything personal. It’s just my brain needing a break.

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It’s so hard to understand yourself, your anxiety, your depression, so you shouldn’t expect other people, who don’t experience these things, to understand. If people understand a little of who you are, and understand what you’re going through, they’ll know it’s nothing personal. Maybe they won’t understand exactly why you’re feeling the way you do, but they’ll understand enough to give you the space you need, to stop talking, to stop doing whatever it is that’s making you anxious.

There is such a huge lifestyle difference between extroverts and introverts that it is so, so important to be extra transparent about what you need in order to exist in the same world as the other. Don’t expect someone to know what you mean or what you want when you are acting from your feelings. Tell them!

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