We do have a number of things in common, one of which is that we tend to have more male than female friends. Another is that being in group social situations drains us.
However, this is largely self reported. She mentioned the other day that she’s signed up for the Diva Dash in September and that she’s gotten 14 other women to sign up.
Well. I’m trying to think if I know 14 women I’d want to hang out with for an afternoon, nevermind 14 who are physically fit enough to do a 5k obstacle course.
A lot of people claim the introvert label. One report claims 35 percent of the population are introverts. Introversion is loosely defined as those who gain more energy from internal motivation than external. While many shy people are introverts, shyness is not equivalent. Awkwardness in social situations is not the same as introversion.
I’ve taken the Myers Briggs personality type test a few times, and each time my introversion scale was almost to the furthest measurement. My trainer may be somewhere on the introversion scale, but I’m pretty sure I’m way off the charts. I’d have a hard time performing her job, seeing as many as 8 clients a day. I’d be spending so much time analyzing and cross-checking their well-being, worrying that I wasn’t giving them what they needed, that I’d go home and be fried for roughly a month. I’d be lucky to get out of bed for a week.
It’s a bit of a running joke in my family about how few people I can handle spending more than an hour or two with. It’s not that I don’t like people. I like most people. I find people fascinating and interesting. But I find relationships difficult. Even superficial interactions take a toll on me. I’m piss-poor at regulating where I end and other people begin. I want to make things ok for others, which is too much a task and frankly a stupid, impossible idea. Just being myself in social situations is very, very hard. Not because I’m ashamed of myself. It’s more that I worry that I will inadvertently make a person feel bad about themselves.
Conversely, I am comfortable in my own skin (mostly) when I don’t have to worry about other people. I’m easily entertained, have loads of curiosity and rarely am bored. I get excited about stuff to the point that I sometimes find it hard to go to bed at night.
I wish I were more extroverted because I there are times do wish I had a random person to talk to when the mood strikes me. Having a small pool of friends limits spontaneous interactions. Occasionally I’m struck with a piqué of envy when I read blogs of people with oodles of friends and a million parties to attend. Until I remember I don’t especially like parties, especially when I’m not able to get tipsy because tipsy really equals binge and alcoholic roller coasters for me. Alcohol dulled that excess concern over the welfare of others. Which would’ve been fine if I only drank in social situations.
Basically, social interactions exhaust me. I think I’m introverted by nature, but it was exacerbated by my mother’s narcissism. I was taught to try to read the tiniest of reactions in people, so I’m always on my toes in anxious anticipation. When I get close to someone, this is alleviated somewhat. I find it easier to keep my close relationships to a few, though.
As I get older, I’m more able to accept my introversion. I’m lucky to have family and friends who have learned to understand that my huge need for space and reduced chaos does not mean I don’t love them dearly. They understand when I hit a wall during social gatherings, and I sometimes need to physically remove myself from the melee (which only feels like melee to me because I get sensory-overloaded), whether its 10 minutes in another room or time to go home.
I’m not sure I’m all that shy, to be honest. I tend to blab stuff about myself to relative strangers, such as the fact that I’m an alcoholic. I’m only self-conscious if I’m pretty sure people are looking at me, and even then, I doubt people look at me much. Or if they do, I’m off in my own little world and don’t notice, which has a few times caused some funny interactions with being randomly asked out by guys who have watched me from afar for awhile before approaching me. Oops. Oblivious is a good word for me out in public.
I think this introversion is why running is such an appealing sport for me. When I’m part of a team, I get very group focused and often lose the joy in my pursuit of not letting others down. I think this is also why I get weird about passing people in a race. I’m getting over it by trying not to worry about making the other runner feel bad and setting my sights on the finish line, a nice inanimate object that doesn’t mind if I cross it.