(stands up, in AA type meeting fashion.)
Hi. My name is Meghan. And I am an introvert.
I’ve been told I don’t act like an introvert. I can be outgoing and adventurous. If I have something to say I speak up in meetings at work. With adequate preparation I even like public speaking.
But an introvert isn’t necessarily someone who is shy. Shyness and introversion have nothing to do with each other. You can be a shy introvert or a shy extrovert (which sounds excruciating). Introversion and extroversion are simply how a person derives energy.
My favorite explanation comes from the guys over at Blimey Cow in this five minute YouTube video. I’m very much the rechargeable controller they describe.
The thing about being an introvert is we have limited energy. And we’re not pleasant when that energy is overextended. The holidays are a prime example of overextension. The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are full of gatherings with coworkers and friends and family. I snuck away many times to find a quiet room (and once took refuge in a bathroom stall) to rest a bit before diving back in. By the time New Years Eve rolled around I was absolutely at my limit. I was tired, I was grumpy and all I wanted was to be at home in my pajamas curled up in my favorite reading chair with a book.
I had a few very quiet, very necessary few days off before going back to work, but the social fatigue lingered. After such a busy month having to be around people eight hours a day, five days a week again was really hard.
My January calendar has delivered a couple of nothing-planned, the-car-never-leaves-the-driveway weekends, and I’ve enjoyed each and every one of them.
This is what’s known as an introvert hangover.
To any non-introvert, this might sound ungrateful. Truly, that’s what most introverts fear: someone getting the wrong impression of us, thinking we’re being rude, thinking we’re cold or distant, thinking we don’t care. The thing is, we truly cannot help when or where we hit our energy wall. We really just need — physically need — some time alone before we can be social again.
I love the together-time at the holidays. Few things bring me greater joy than catching up with loved ones and seeing my nieces and nephews. But as much as I love these things, I also find them exhausting. I can only go so long before I need a small quiet room to just sit alone.
If one of your friends has disappeared after the holidays, and you don’t see them until February, they might be recovering from a post-holiday introvert hangover.
Give them some time. They’ll come back around.
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