Friday, August 21, 2009

Favorite {Photo} Friday--Solitary

I believe I've mentioned before on here that I'm a major introvert. A lot of people (like Katie!) don't believe that, because I'm social and can be outgoing. But the difference is that, unlike extrovert Jason who gets so recharged by interaction with others that after a big party he bounces around like a kid on Jolt Cola (and we are ALWAYS the last couple to leave a party because I almost literally have to drag him out, I am not kidding), being social requires a lot of energy from me. A LOT. No matter how much I like or love the people I'm hanging out with, my energy is drained by spending time interacting with other people. Let me repeat that because it is huge for me and all introverts: No matter how much I like or love the people I'm hanging out with, my energy is drained by spending time interacting with other people.

So it should come as no surprise that after spending 2.5 weeks traveling around to three different places on opposite sides of the continent via nine different flights, hanging out with people, meeting people, taking classes, making small talk with people whom I didn't know but happened to be sitting by, chatting with vendors at CHA, seeing a bunch of different family members, hanging with my nieces, meeting my good friend's serious boyfriend, not to mention seeing classmates I haven't seen in 15 years, I needed a bit of a break and some serious alone-time.

Those 2.5 weeks were filled with all good things--it was amazing to hang out with Lori and meet Anke (my newest BFF and WHY don't we three live in the same state?), and it was great and fulfilling to see my nieces and my parents, aunt, and grandparents, and I even had a great time at my reunion (at least what I can remember of it--OH LORDY). I loved doing all of it; and then I needed some time to myself. It's like I retreat into a "cave," shunning all interaction. Which is kind of crappy, considering that I hadn't seen Jason in 2.5 weeks and we had some catching up to do! Luckily over the years he's become more understanding of my introvertedness, and as he's become more respectful of my needs (yes, for me time alone is a need, not a want) then I'm more willing to venture out of my cave for short stretches to provide a balance. :)

In the midst of my cave-dwelling, last weekend our lovely neighbors (one set of our many sets of lovely neighbors, we're lucky to be on a very friendly street!) invited us to a party at their parents' house on the lake. We'd been wanting to join them at the beautiful house we'd been hearing about for some time, so even though the timing wasn't great for me, we decided to go. Sweet Jason tried to explain to the neighbors about my exhaustion from my travels, just to pave the way for me to take my leave and take a nap if need be. And I am happy to say, it was a great day! There were only two small hang-ups, which I'd like to share in the interest of explaining introvertedness.

First, from the moment we arrived there were screaming children and barking dogs, in that way that seems that you are surrounded and have ended up on the island from Lord of the Flies and there's no way out of the noise and chaos; I didn't know how I'd make it through the day, honestly. Luckily, within an hour it was determined that the culprit was one lone child who was terrorizing every creature in sight and whose mother had absented herself to the house to talk on her cell phone (did I mention the house is on a lake where children need to be watched???); our lovely neighbor, who is a schoolteacher and whom I adore, had a little chat with the mom about her child's behavior and the mom chose to pack up and leave. The entire compound was instantly quieter, I'm not even joking. [Allow me to insert here a small prayer that I never be that mother!]

The second small hang-up was that a friend of our neighbor decided to take it upon himself to make sure I was never alone at any point during the party. Obviously the guy was an extrovert and couldn't imagine any reasonable possibility why a person would actually like to be by him- or herself. I spent more than two hours eating with everyone and swimming in the lake, talking to people (during which time he never introduced himself or made conversation); the moment I headed back to the hammock with my book (I'd not even settled in the hammock or opened the book yet), this guy walked up to me and said in an accusatory tone, "Either that is a really good book, or you are just unsocial." I was so shocked and just wanted to end the conversation that I just said, "I'm really tired." Later when I headed to the dock (when everyone was upstairs on the upper deck) he followed me and said, "What are you doing here by yourself?" I wish I'd had the energy to explain to him that I just wanted a few minutes to myself; instead I just said that I'd come to get a drink (true) and then I headed back upstairs.

I can appreciate that the guy was, in his own way, trying to include me. But the point is that if you are an extrovert (and chances are that you are, since extroverts make up about 75-80% of the population), please understand that we introverts actually crave time alone, even if it's just a few moments. I found this great article that is Top 5 Things Extroverts Should Know About Introverts. All I wanted was a few moments to regroup; instead I felt slightly stalked and harassed; I don't want to be paranoid, but how did this guy always show up within 30 seconds of my being alone unless he was keeping an eye on me the whole time?

In any event, I've been appreciative of my alone time this week. So what else could I choose for Favorite {Photo} Friday except a photo of a lone, solitary boat in Lago di Garda in Italy? Solitude is not a bad thing, my friends--to me it's a necessity! In fact, as if to add an exclamation point to this week's post, this photo was taken by Jason on our anniversary weekend in 2007, while I napped in the car. I'm not even joking. I was so tired and worn out that I fell asleep and Jason parked the car and took photos for me to see when I woke up! If that isn't love, I don't know what is. :)

Have a fabulous weekend, friends, whether it's partying like a rock star or staying at home and catching up on your DVR! :)


Josh said...

As a fellow introvert I really understand where you're coming from. One thing I've noticed is that other introverts aren't usually draining for me to be around, even if there are several of them. On the other hand, a single extrovert can suck the life out of me quite quickly.

I think the problem with saying "I'm tired" to an extrovert is that their immediate reaction is "well, you should come join the party and recharge!". Although that's nonsensical to us, "I just need some time by myself" sounds the same to them. Sometimes I think being clear with your boundaries and needs is the best thing to do in that kind of situation, though. Even if they'll think you're weird or crazy, most people will actually respect your wishes if you simply tell them that you need to be by yourself for a while.

This is a little weird, but one emergency coping mechanism I've found in the kind of situation you're describing is taking a long time in the bathroom. I don't mean hours, just 5 or 10 minutes. It's nice because you know that no one is going join you in there and you can turn the fan on so it feels very private. Odd? Yes. Necessary? Sometimes.

Cameron said...

Josh, VERY good points! I can sort of sense other introverts because they don't drain my energy nearly as quickly as extroverts do!

I also appreciate your point about how extroverts can take "I'm tired." I hadn't thought about the "phraseology" of this and it will be good for me to keep in mind for the future!

And I can't TELL you the time I've spent in the bathroom! I also have a weird thing (perhaps from growing up in a house with only one bathroom/toilet) about not monopolizing the bathroom, but whenever possible I've made use of the bathroom for a few extra private moments to recharge!! So glad I'm not the only one!! :)

zanne said...

Cameron, I really enjoyed reading this. Even being
the extrovert I am I need alone time to recharge!
My husband gets that too!!! And people like the
one you are describing at the party creep me out and
in a sense suffocate me. Thanks for sharing, as
even myself can totally appreciate.

Anonymous said...

before we got married in the Episcopal church "they" (after 18 years we are still trying to figure out who that "they" was) made us go to a personality testing session within the church... It was surprising to both of us to find out that we were both introverts... That was great information to have over the years... Larry and I are very good at giving each other space BUT it's the rest of the people in our lives that don't always get it. Papa is obviously NOT an introvert. Neither is my son Jonathan... At night after the kids are asleep - no matter how tired I am - i will always sacrifice getting an extra hour of sleep for an hour of complete solitude... Otherwise I will be crabby and useless the next day. I once made the mistake of telling a girlfriend about my precious hour of aloneness and she decided that that would be the perfect time to call me at night!!!!! ARGGGGHHHH!
miss you Cameron.

Ingrid Parmeter said...

I don't know if I am an introvert or extrovert. I think I swing wildly from one to the other at times. And having kids has brought me more towards needing quiet (because I get none....even in the freaking bathroom!). I just know that I relate to this post and I wanted to cream that guy.
Some people seem to have this very deeply ingrained need to do what they think is taking care of the social workings of a party....they think they are being kind, but often they are just being a pain in the ass. If he were going up and talking to the foreign exchange student or the mentally ill grandmother, well, that would be kind, but bothering someone just trying to take it easy and catch some quiet time is just not that great. I have totally experienced this before. Here is what I have said that seemed to work: (With a big smile) "I am just totally LOVING the solitude out here. I just don't get enough quiet, solitary, peacefulness in my life!". Usually the obnoxious dude gets the hint and says, "Oh, well I am just going to leave you to enjoy [the view, the evening, the sunset, the hammock]". And he usually says it like he personally gave it to you.
I'm getting irritated all over again!

IntrovertedLefty said...

My family lives 150 miles away, and I LOVE being with them, yet I almost never go for more than just one day, because all the togetherness is totally exhausting.
When I do go for an overnight visit with them, I do take a few extra minutes to be alone when in the bathroom :) and another thing I have done that gives GLORIOUS freedom is to be the one who volunteers to run out to the store to grab whatever we're out of. get into your car alone and sing with the radio with NO ONE else there to drain your energy away... It usually restores me so that I am happy to continue the party when I get back to the others.

cynthia said...

Oh see what happens when I step away from the computer. I miss this kick-ass post:) I SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO know what you mean. I have been always been confused by my love of people, but how I need my alone time to renergize!!! I am so a introvert. So, good to know someone else is like me!!!! See that is why we are friends:)

Katie said...

Lovely picture. Lone boats are great. 'lone time is great too.

jenwcom said...

you totally fill me up!

Aimee said...

miss you.

like you just as you- anyone who does not is very not worth it.

and just for giggles:

i will never ever catch up.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I just found your blog, and love it, your words, your pictures - your art! This especially I had to comment on - a big OMG me too moment! This was quite a few years ago now, as my daughter was about 5 or 6 (and she's 28 now) ... we had gone to some sort of adults and kids party ... and about the time I had enough of the people, I realized - she's running around with the kids having a wonderful time! Meh. So I retreated into a room that had a bookshelf and started reading. WELL! My friend's father came in and did to me just about what the guy tried to do to you in the hammock! I had always loved the guy - I mean, I still do! - but until that moment, I had hero worship. He killed it for me (especially when nothing worked so he started on the "gee you're a bad mother" simply because I was reading a book !!! No, no other mother was involved in there kids playing.) Since Google refuses to allow me to sign in! Jeannee,