Last weekend I was involved in Introvert Hell!
My Son’s girlfriend, Chloe; who I love dearly, was 21. Of course, I live in a family of Extroverts and I had known for some time that the festivities would be very extroverted in nature.
Chloe, like many people, has a split family and so there were various events to navigate. The first, a smaller affair, a Sunday lunch in a local restaurant, was enjoyable.
I was flanked by my Son and Husband who, although both extroverts, both know how to help me cope. My Son dutifully engages me in low key, but interesting conversation and we enjoy guessing the personality types of the other guests. A good majority of the guests at this event seemed a little more towards introverted and so all went well.
The second meal was a little busier, but members of our family had also been invited. It was a lovely event and Chloe opened her presents at the table which provided a welcome break from chit chat. I managed that one too!
Now, for the third and scariest event… Cue scary scream!!!
The cocktail-drinking day out!
Now all of you introverts may need to sit down for this one!
I need to explain first, that because I am an INFJ, I love people and I am often mis-interpreted by others as an extrovert. My best friend, Dawn still doesn’t believe me, but luckily, she just loves me for being me, whoever I am. And I love her for that.
I am not afraid to stand and deliver a speech in front of others.
I am not afraid to take the microphone and sing a karaoke song.
I am not afraid to join in a conversation.
I hate noisy crowds.
I hate not knowing where I’m going or what time I will be home.
I hate standing around talking about, well, nothing.
Cue confusion and dismay from everyone else.
Cue my husband’s kiss of death comment – guaranteed to cause a row… “Just relax and try and enjoy yourself, you’ll get into it” I think I should get away with murder in a court of law following that comment!
To cope, I had to mentally split the day into hourly slots, making sure I was armed with train timetables for getting home. I also laid off the cocktails so I could drive home – escape guaranteed. I even indulged in photos! See uncomfortable photo below!
I found a table to sit in every bar we visited, often alone while others stood at the bar chatting. I was comfortable in my static position, able to see coming and going and not stuck in the middle of a crowd. Thank god for phones so I didn’t look too out of place with my face in mine.
Then came the karaoke…place? I don’t know how else to describe a corridor of padded cells with excruciatingly loud music and even louder distorted microphones. In another dimension surely this would be a method of torture?
Another screaming rendition of Roy Orbison’s Pretty Woman anyone?
Luckily, I knew we only had a 2 hour slot so, again, I methodically split the time down and spent most of it hiding in the toilet or pretending to do something really important on my phone outside the padded cell.
I know most people reading this will be thinking “what is her problem?” or “how ungrateful” and that is because it is very difficult to explain to extroverts what a day like this is like for an introvert who is out of the introvert closet. I say this because there were a few other introverts in our party who were exhausting themselves by playing the extrovert game.
People often take it personally if I say no or duck out of an event early and this leaves me racked with guilt. “But you’d do it for me surely?” I try hard to be true to myself and my friends and family are gradually coming around, but it is still really difficult.
I will continue the struggle with the demon inside which is not my introversion but the guilt I feel for expressing it with others.
Sarah Terry is a School Counsellor and Author who works in Central England. Her interests include Counselling and Psychology, Personality Types, Jogging and Yoga and Meditation. To find our more about Sarah, please see below.
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