I love my husband and daughter dearly, but sometimes the sights and sounds of them make me want to scream. I realized why yesterday: I am an introvert often forced to live as an extrovert.
Sure, I can be a chatty Cathy with the best of them and even people who know me well would probably classify me as outgoing, but when push comes to shove, I’d rather curl up with a good book than do anything else in the world.
So the other day, as I felt the weekend slipping through my fingertips and I began thinking of the busy week ahead, my irritation started brewing.
It had been a mellow weekend, but I hadn’t spent a minute of it by myself. Rather than explode in a temper, I simply stopped responding. When my husband asked what was wrong, my heart spoke before I could do my usual filtering. “I just want to be alone.”
Good husband that he is, he suggested he take our daughter somewhere for a bit or that I retreat to another part of the house for awhile. My initial reaction was to tell him it wasn’t necessary, but it was.
I needed quiet. It’s only been recently that I’ve realized just how much. Before motherhood, I was on the go a lot, but I always had those lazy Sunday afternoons of napping and reading to recharge. Up until a year or so ago, I telecommuted a day a week. I worked harder that day than any other day of the week, but I relished the quiet and the ability to work in my PJs. I used to head to the grocery store at 8 pm on a random weeknight and linger long after all the items on my list had landed in the cart -- the Musak was so soothing to my overstimulated soul.
These days, I am never alone. I often spend hours a week in meetings, and I live with a child who only stops talking when she’s snoring. Though my husband is fairly quiet -- a fellow introvert -- he has the TV on constantly. I admit, at times I have a burning desire to kick them out.
It’s only recently that I’ve begun to recognize just how important solitude is to my sanity. When my daughter’s singing starts to sound like nails on a chalkboard, I know I need a timeout. I want to be fully present when I'm with my family, but lately I notice my tendency to mentally check out is happening more frequently. It's time to accept my inner introvert. If I want to refrain from checking out with my loved ones, I need to start checking in with myself.
Certainly, I’m not the only one. There are millions of us introverts just trying to survive in our extroverted world. I’m excited to pick up the book I have on hold at the library: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I hope she has some good knowledge to impart. Of course, I have no idea how I’ll actually find a quiet place to read this book.
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