Today I’ve decided to write about a conversation I had with a colleague, about what it means to be an introvert to me. I was a little bit disappointed with his reaction to what I had to say.
For a little context: he was talking about how he recently got trained on the checkouts at our big supermarket, and I expressed that I don’t feel comfortable enough to do the same because I wouldn’t be able to handle that much social interaction.
I can gladly create small talk, and enjoy talking and interacting with people – I thrive off of it sometimes. I do need that social interaction in order to boost my mood, and just see the people that I care about. I’ve even grown in confidence to be able to talk to strangers, whether it’s from working on the till in a charity shop or interacting with new people at university. I can come across as bubbly and social – and I hope, as someone who is easy-going and easy to talk to.
The only thing is, it tires me out. After an intense day of interacting, or a busy few days or even a week – I have to shut off. It feels as though all that effort I’ve put into being social, just drains out of me and makes me feel so tired and weak. The next day I can be irritable and have such a down mood, because I need to find the time to recharge.
When I tried to explain these feelings to my colleague, he called me odd and implied that I was being over-dramatic and weird. I tried to let him know that that is how I know that I am an introvert – because while I’m happy to be social and love interacting and meeting people, I need time to recharge because it drags my anxiety down. Needless to say, I felt a little belittled by his comments.
I even had to google it, and learn that social exhaustion is a thing! But I shouldn’t have had to do that – my feelings are real and valid. There are so many elements to being an introvert or extrovert, and different parts of having anxiety – I’m still constantly learning about triggers I have and how to handle different emotions.
I’ve learnt that not everyone will fully understand what you’re going through, no matter how much you try and explain it. The only thing that matters is that you look after yourself as best you can, and try not to care about what others think.