It should be no secret to those people who know me that I am an introvert, that I don’t like spending a lot of time socializing. That doesn’t mean I am a hermit though. On occasion I do enjoy socializing but only with a few people and in controlled doses. But mostly I prefer being alone on my time. I spend my 40 hours a week at work, sometimes a few more, and then I spend an hour or so exercising at my local gym 5 days a week and go to church on Wednesday’s and Sunday’s. By the time I am finished with all that I am exhausted, physically and mentally. All I want to do is go home and relax, not talk to anyone, not play music, and not turn on the Blu-ray player for a while. I just want to sit or lay down and be still for a while. I don’t want to engage in conversation, but if I must, I want to keep it short and to the point and then go back to my “me time”.
Many times people want to invite me out to their parties or gatherings or organized social events. I really hate these things and I almost always decline their invitation, politely albeit. But I hear things like this:
You don’t know how to have fun.
Oh, come on!
I found the perfect answers to some of these sayings from a blog posting on the website Psychology Today in the article “How to piss off an introvert”
You don’t know how to have fun. I know how to have fun. It just doesn’t involve crowds, high decibels, or costumes. Maybe you’re the one who doesn’t know how to have fun–d’ja ever think about that?
“Oh, come on!” That’s an unacceptable response to my polite refusal to participate in something that doesn’t look fun. And if you grab my arm and try to drag me into it, I am not responsible for my actions. I promise you, expletives will occur.
“Party pooper!” Do what you want, I don’t care. I’m not pooping on your party. If anything, I’m pooping on my own party and that’s none of your beeswax. I’m pretty sure you’ll manage to continue having fun even if I’m not there.
These responses to the things you extroverts tell me almost mirror exactly what I feel when you say them to me.
Just because you invited me to go do something and I don’t want to go, doesn’t at all mean I hate you, or I hate “insert your activity here”, or that I don’t know how to have fun, or that I outright disapprove of “insert your activity here”. The truth is I probably don’t disapprove of your activity and I do know how to have fun; I have fun in my ways. I don’t hate you, and if I did you would know it and you would not have invited me along in the first place because you knew I hated you. I don’t mean any personal offense to you when I decline your invitations, but if you take offense to it, then you have problems of your own to deal with or it’s your Muppet Baby imagination acting up.
Another blog posting from Psychology Today has a few things in it that I like and want to share with you. The article is titled “Field Guide to the Loner: The real Insiders”
In our society, where extroverts make up three-quarters of the population, loners … are pegged as creepy or pathetic. But soloists … can function just fine in the world—they simply prefer traveling through their own interior universe.
Loners often hear from well-meaning peers that they need to be more social, but the implication that they’re merely black-and-white opposites of their bubbly peers misses the point. Introverts aren’t just less sociable than extroverts; they also engage with the world in fundamentally different ways. While outgoing people savor the nuances of social interaction, loners tend to focus more on their own ideas—and on stimuli that don’t register in the minds of others. Social engagement drains them, while quiet time gives them an energy boost.
Contrary to popular belief, not all loners have a pathological fear of social contact. “Some people simply have a low need for affiliation,” says Jonathan Cheek, a psychologist at Wellesley College. “There’s a big subdivision between the loner-by-preference and the enforced loner.”
Matsuoka says, “I can’t do large crowds with a lot of noise,” she says. “It’s stressful to maintain positive interactions and introduce yourself 20 times. I really have to turn on my motor to do that.” Miina Matsuoka lives by herself in New York City. She owns two cats and routinely screens her calls.
Just as the article states, loners are pegged as creepy or pathetic. For a world that is obsessed with “don’t judge me!” those things are awfully prejudiced against people like me.
Social engagement drains me just as the article points out; that is so true! I need my quiet time to recharge, I really do. I am one of those people who have a low need for affiliation. I don’t need or want millions of “friends”. I can count my close friends on one hand and I like it that way. Everyone else is either a casual friend, an acquaintance, a co-worker or a complete stranger.
These are the people that I see on occasion and don’t mind socializing with for a short time or even to go out and do something with. But it’s not going to happen very often, that is for sure. This doesn’t mean that I hate you, because if I did you wouldn’t be a casual friend.
These are the people I may see on occasion or even less and about all I care to say to them is “Hi, how’s it going? That’s cool; well see ya later”. I don’t have much preference for you either way, I don’t necessarily hate you, but I also don’t want to be your friend either; I’m all stocked up for now.
This is one that most of my co-workers and most people in general don’t understand about me. This one is a product of my environment from my time in the Marine Corps. In the military you live, train, eat and work together with your co-workers every day. You share the same barracks rooms together, you go to the same jobs together, you share meals together, you go on training missions together and you also go to war together. You are with the same people essentially 24 hours a day every day for your time in the military. For me that was draining. I tried to avoid going out of the guys all the time and stayed in my barracks room or went out alone as much as I could just to get some of my cherished “me time”.
So when I left active duty I made a rule for myself, that I would separate my work life from my personal life. I have my friends in my personal life and my friends in my work life. As a rule, the twain shall never cross paths. There are however, a couple of people I know through work that I do consider personal friends and will socialize with outside of work, but that is exceptionally rare for me to do.
As an introvert, I don’t want to spend all day every day with my friends from work or my personal life. Just a little time for each is all I want. Too much time with someone or several people at once wears on me and drains me mentally. I just want to get away and have some peace and quiet. If I spend too much time with anyone, I start to grow weary of them and then don’t want to be around them at all for a long period of time. I spend enough time with my “work friends”, i.e. 40 hours a week and that is usually more than enough for me to handle and at the end of the day I am relieved to go to the gym or home. And I don’t say that as a knock against any of them at all; it just means that I have exhausted my social battery.
This rule of mine is also not a knock against anyone else, especially you extroverts out there, If you have friends from work that you like to hang out with on your own time, hey that is cool with me. I don’t think that there is anything wrong with that and I am not going to judge you for it. It’s your life and live it the way you want. Just please let me live my life the way I want and try not to criticize me for my ways which are different than yours.
Now after reading this posting you’re probably thinking this guy is crazy and there is no way he could be married. Well you’re partly right. I am not married, but I also am not crazy. Yes I am single, have no girlfriend and no children. You may think that is crazy or that I am completely socially inept or that I am a lonely person. But that is not true. I am single, and I like it that way (which is a posting for another day).
So the bottom line here is that I prefer to be left alone most of the time and I especially don’t like parties or organized social gatherings and that doesn’t mean I don’t like you. It just means I like my socializing in a limited manner on my terms and like more quiet time than social time.