I very distinctly remember the first time I shared that I was an introvert. My very good friend Jon said “Oh my goodness….you should take the test again because it’s obviously wrong, you are so outgoing and you reach so many people.” I tried to explain to him that yes, I am in fact able (through the only trait more powerful than being an introvert: being a people pleaser) to engage others, express my profound love for my religion and share why it is important, but it is more exhausting for me than giving birth. If my vacation involves reaching out to people, I am going to need a real vacation when the fake vacation is over. Confused? I bet you are.
Introverts are quite capable of turning it on when we need to, but don’t experience the same euphoria from social interaction that extroverts do. I spent this past Saturday at a wedding, mingling with people (85% of which I did not know) and I was more exhausted the following day than the caterer, the groom or the bride.
Often, we (introverts) get a bad rap for keeping to ourselves or being antisocial, but that isn’t the case at all. We want to hang out with you. We want to want to be your friend. We want to want to come to your house at a moments’ notice, but we just don’t have the same capabilities as you and your extrovert friends. As a Navy wife, I find myself in a new group of people every 2-3 years, and it can be quite exhausting for people to realize the quirks and eccentricities I have are quite endearing, so let’s cut to the chase.
- It is physically impossible for me to ask for help.
I just can NOT ask for help. Period. End of story. No questions asked. A few years ago, a visiting family member was unexpectedly admitted to the hospital. Within an hour, I received a phone call from a church leader, asking if they could bring meals, watch my kids, etc. Ummmmm. No. The person admitted to the hospital wasn’t making dinner for us, so I really didn’t need help. If for some reason, I was unable to throw 2 cups of water and a pack of ramen into a pot and cook dinner for my kids—well that was seriously going to be the least of my issues. I appreciate your offer for help, but I would rather my children eat Ramen Noodles every day for a week than accept help. EVER.
I quite frequently organize meals for people having a baby or surgery, but in my mind I think: you have known for NINE months this was going to happen…couldn’t you have thrown some lasagna in the freezer last week? I certainly would have. And don’t get me wrong: I BRING food to these ladies every time there is a need. I would just never ask for the assistance. Think of it as me saving you time. You’re welcome.
- It’s not that I don’t like your friends. I don’t know them and I don’t know the difference.
A couple weeks ago I got a text from a friend asking if I would come over and show ‘us’ how Jamberry Nail Wraps works. My first response was “Who’s we?” I absolutely love my friend, whom I have known for years, but the thought of other people (people I didn’t know well) made me want to curl up, love on some Chuck Bass, drink a glass of wine and go to sleep. In my mind I wondered if ‘we’ included someone who would judge me for not showering that day or if it was someone who didn’t readily understand my quirks. Don’t get me wrong, I KNOW how to socialize with people beyond my circle, but I just chose not to. I like you (not all of you), but I can take or leave your friends. But since I like you, the last thing I want is to leave you explaining to people who don’t know me why I left so abruptly. I’m working on it.
- I am sorry that listening to you breathe is not my love language.
Mostly because we are never, ever going to connect. I am not going to call you without a specific reason. When [if] I call, you can bet your ass there is a specific purpose.
A few months ago, I called my cousin and he answered with “What’s wrong? Is Uncle Buck dead?” Well, no, JACKASS, my dad isn’t dead…why would you think that? Oh, because it’s the first time I have called you in 15 years since my son was born? Well, maybe that was the last time I had something important to say to you.
Sometimes, I just don’t answer the phone….for DAYS. My brother (whom I love dearly) will sometimes call for a week before I feel like I have the energy to talk to him. It isn’t that I don’t like him, love him or want to talk to him: I just can’t. Mostly because he really doesn’t have anything to talk about. I mean, prison is pretty much the same thing every day, day in, day out, over and over & I have heard it all before. Don’t get me wrong, if he calls three times in half an hour, I know he probably has some juice on one (or BOTH) of our parents and I always answer that call. It has meaning: to talk shit about our mutual lifelong enemy (I’m kidding Mom and Dad). Anything else is really a deal breaker for me. He’s learned to adapt. And I’m not really sorry; I think it is weird that you would call me with absolutely nothing to say.
- I don’t give a crap if we are friends.
I have made it clear that I don’t really mingle well with those I don’t know, so it would stand to reason that I don’t put many people in the ‘friend’ category. When I think of friends, I think of people whose parents’ funerals I would take time (and money) from my life to attend. If I’m being honest (which my Asperger’s forces me to be) I can say there aren’t really many of those. In each situation where someone has become my friend, one of two things happened:
- Our husbands served in the Navy together and therefore we spent a lot of time together during deployments. And by a lot of time, I mean I saw you 5-6 days a week. I didn’t necessarily like you at first, but you were always there and wore me down until I realized you were pretty cool. You probably know enough about me to write a tell-all, best seller and I am pretty excited that you have chosen to remain loyal. Good for you; I like a person with integrity.
- We met when I was a child and no matter how many times I moved, you continued to track me down. I don’t know how we kept in touch prior to Facebook, but I admire your persistence and dedication. Your diligence will be rewarded and we will continue to be friends until one of us dies.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not opposed to the idea of new friends, I just really don’t care one way or the other.
- I don’t know how to have a conversation.
Through the help of my therapist (I love you Chavette), I realize that I am constantly interrupting the people I talk to. Please don’t take offense. I understand that you are important, as are your ideas, but when I feel a connection with someone, I NEED you to listen to the things I have to say. All the things. This instant. It is physically impossible for me to let you complete your thought because I am so enthralled with the idea of connecting to another human that I need to get all of my ideas on the table before you realize I’m crazy and vanish. I know that ‘introvert who feels affection’ can easily be interpreted ‘self centered bitch’ but I need you to just move past that. Take it as a complement that you intrigue me and move on.
- Don’t make me make excuses.
If I tell you that I can’t come to dinner, go to the movies or hang out with you, please accept my decision. You can’t guilt me into being with you. I have told both my parents, my in-laws and my best friend that they can’t come visit me. I have a million excuses lined up ready to give you: I have a migraine, I don’t feel well, my depression is out of control, I need some me time, I’m spending time with the kids or I am having a bad day and NO ONE wants to be in my company. Please don’t make me give you those excuses. Just accept my “no thank you” and let’s be done with it.
You probably fit into one of two categories of people:
- Holy crap, it’s like that chick sees directly into my soul. She knows me and we should be friends. (YOU are the reason I have a security system).
- Holy crap, that chick is JUST like my sister (brother, mom, dad, friend, associate, etc.) and now it all makes sense.
Either way, I promise that you know someone like me and I probably seem very different than you. That’s okay. We don’t have to all be the same. You people who thrive on talking to…people…well, you give me the heebie jeebies. I am a little jealous of you, though. Okay, I am a lot jealous of you and your ability to go to work all day, volunteer at night, go home and make dinner for your family and still have energy to call your grandma before bed. I wish I was like you, but I’m not and those who love me have just learned to accept it.
~Tonyia Doyle is a Navy Spouse, mom to 2 handsome sons, and Military Spouses of Strength’s newest blog series contributor. She began to blog as a way of talking about her own struggles with depression and other mental health issues. Through therapy and medication, she is working towards her own healing and has chosen to share her real life with MSoS readers in hopes of raising mental health awareness. Please join her over the next six weeks as she shares her journey.