Today is National Introverts Day. Indeed, what perfect timing!
After all the costumes and candy of Halloween, after all the feasting and football of Thanksgiving, after all the parties and presents of Christmas, after all the noise of New Year’s Eve, we introverts get a day to ourselves.
Of course, we would probably have taken it anyway—out of necessity. The continual demands for social interactions through the end of fall and into the New Year are taxing on those of us who typically spend more time inside ourselves. We have to expend a great deal of energy to stay engaged and focused and upbeat for the season. There is an expectation that people will all want all the together and social time that is available. There is an expectation that there will be dates reserved on the calendar that cannot be avoided. Family get-togethers, office parties, church events, school programs, community concerts—the list gets rather long rather quickly. It can be daunting and ever overwhelming.
There is also the external over-stimulation. Halloween brings out the horror films and the scares and the haunted trails and houses, not to mention fog machines and decorations and yards filled with skeletons. Honestly the Commercial Christmas season begins here as well. Advertisements come at us non-stop in hopes of enticing us to spend and buy and give. The music begins blaring away in the stores and streets well before the Advent season. Thanksgiving is a bit quieter… until the football games start. Bands, shouting, extra decibels floating all over the place. Then the Commercial Christmas season turns everything up into high gear! Whole houses are decked in lights that are hooked to devices to get them all to flash in time to music. In other words, there are lots of extra sights and sounds to process during the holidays, and introverts only need a little of that.
There is gift-giving. Now mind you, I think giving is a great thing—indeed, it is a virtue that we all need to practice. But our culture has taken gift-giving and turned it into a stressor that it should not be. It is not only the giving of gifts—there is also the receiving and gifts and the social interactions that come with it. Surprise, laughter, tears—any and all of these emotions and more are close to the surface during these days. Then come thank yous and how to respond when a thank you seems less-than the intensity of giving the gift itself.
So many things going on. So much to deal with. All of it important and intense in its own way. Much of it worthwhile! Don’t get me wrong, I love much about the holidays.
But National Introverts Day comes as a welcome relief. I’m certainly ready for a day in which I can keep some quiet and keep more to myself. Like other introverts, I have been through a good bit lately. It has taken a good bit of my reserves to engage and interact with all of these events and all of these people and all of these processes. A day when I don’t have to go anywhere, wrap anything, open anything, converse for several hours—this is a welcome day indeed!
I’m not sure that people fully understand what it means to be an introvert, although the introverts out there have a handle on it already. It’s not that we don’t like people or that we’re anti-social or even weird—we’re just wired differently. We process a good bit of stuff on the inside that is never seen on the surface. Our minds run in overdrive all the time, even if we are not talking or interacting with others. It takes a good bit of energy to keep the external going since the internal is processing everything. If we had a little meter on our head somewhere that showed how much was going on in our minds, it would be spinning like a windmill in a cyclone.
But we don’t. So those who are just reading the surface may mistakenly think that we are cold or distanced or detached or worse. If an introvert is withdrawing from a situation, it may be interpreted as being unfeeling and uncaring. The truth may well be that the introvert is just exhausted from thinking through all of the dynamics involved in what’s going on.
I have yet another element that affects me—I have incredibly sensitive ears. It seems as if I hear everything. Every sound that goes on echoes around in my mind even those that others easily dismiss or may not have heard at all. Loud venues like football stadia or arenas or parties or wedding receptions or crowded rooms all tend to drain me mentally. Repetitive sounds are also a problem.
So I need and crave a good bit of silence. It allows my mind to slow down to a more manageable level. Sitting in silence and meditating is good for me. Long walks in quiet woods help me focus and process thoughts and ideas and feelings. Sitting in an empty sanctuary is often more worshipful for me than one that is filled with music and more.
To achieve this kind of silence often requires solitude which I also need more than most. Spending time along reading, writing, reflecting, praying all help me recharge. Large crowds and large gatherings tend to wear on me quickly. Again, not a social comment—just how I’m wired.
So here’s to a day for all of us introverts to sit back, sit quietly, and soak it all in. Less razzle-dazzle and more reflection and daydreaming. More time in the shell than sticking our necks out. We need it now.