“People empty me. I have to get away to refill.”-Charles Bukowski
Some people might not understand why I genuinely enjoy spending time by myself. The best way I can explain it is that introverts gain energy by being alone. When they are required to be in public or they venture out in the real world of their own accord, they know they’ll eventually become drained. Speaking, interacting, and basically communicating with others takes a lot of mental and emotional energy out of us. Also, there is an overabundance of stimuli that may overwork our brains. Yes, we are observers, but we can only take in so much for so long before we have to recharge.
Extroverts are the opposite. They gain strength from being around people. They ‘level up’ when someone pays attention to them. They enjoy being in crowds, at parties, and at malls. This is their natural habitat. Introverts, in turn, enjoy being at home or in quiet spaces, such as libraries, book stores, or small coffee shops.
In a room full of people, there is a constant tug of war. The extroverts are competing for everyone’s attention as if they are doing a tap dance routine on a stage. The introverts are the audience, silently observing everything around them and maybe taking notes in their journal. Some extroverts may not understand why the introverts sit down and won’t join in ‘dancing’ with them. They might look at them strangely and eventually ostracize them because they think they are weird or different. What they must realize is that there is no audience without introverts. There is no one to listen to them and give them a few words of well thought out advice. Both kinds of people must exist in order for meaningful conversation to take place.
But what happens when one extrovert begins conversing with a single introvert? Then the real battle begins: the battle of energy. The extrovert will approach another person with a story, expecting the introvert to respond with his or her own. The introvert might say a few words in response, but will leave the other person dissatisfied. Extroverts need energy from other people to fill their ‘tanks’ up. When the flow of words doesn’t come in their direction, they might resort to asking random, personal questions. This is usually terrifying to the introvert. They want to have plenty of time to ponder their answers, but are not given it. With every question asked, some energy is stolen from his or her tank and is deposited into the extrovert’s.
Does this mean that we hate people? No. Does this mean that we’re wary of who we let into our personal bubble? Yes. We enjoy spending time with a few close friends that we can trust not to completely deplete our energy supply. When meeting a new person, we may seem stand-offish, but don’t take offense. We may not open up to you immediately, but if and when we do, it will be special and beautiful. We are deep thinkers of few words, but when we do speak, listen closely. We speak softly, but our words are full of wisdom.
This is funny but true: ‘How to Care For An Introvert’