Do you have a friend or relative that seems to always struggle with attending your parties, get-togethers, barbecues, etc? Do they make a face when you mention plans to organize a group dinner and you request their attendance? Do they tend to bail on weekend plans with you? For the love of all things holy, don’t get offended and don’t get too upset. That friend/relative may just be an Introvert.
We’re not lazy, malicious or even unfriendly. We don’t intentionally make plans in order to break them. And no we don’t secretly hate you. We’re just too damn tired mostly. Not always physically tired though, it’s more of an emotional exhaustion. Imagine you’re a ball of energy. Every night you charge up. You get bright and you’re cheerful and bouncy, ready to take on the day like a boss. As the day goes on, work, kids, school, friends, emails, texts, deadlines, traffic, meetings, forced small talk with that stranger on the bus, even the cheerful talkative barista at the coffee shop – every single last one of the people and events in your day takes something out of you. Your energy level drops portion by portion. You grow dimmer.
Finally you are able to go home, or you get a moment to yourself. You wonder, where did all my bounce go? Why is my light so dim? Dear god I’m still supposed to go meet Stacey for dinner and drinks. Ohhhhh sweet baby Jesus I don’t think I have it in me. People who are extroverts get their energy replenished during the day and week often from outside themselves. They get a boost from the interactions they have with others. Drinks with a coworker or friend is just what they need after a long day to feel better. Their light dims and brightens constantly. But if you’re an Introvert it mostly just gets sucked out.
It takes energy for an Introvert to interact with others and just go about their day really. Our energy is built internally through private alone time, when we get a chance to do something we love away from the expectations of the day. It’s hard to go to that party you’ve spent all month planning because that party is full of people we do and don’t know. People who want to catch up. People who want to make additional plans. People who just suck suck suck….the energy right out of us. After a normal work week it’s no wonder we hesitate to fit in your party too. We sometimes have to dig deep.
This isn’t to say introverts aren’t fun. We love to have fun, don’t that twisted. We can be delightful and charming like any extrovert at a party. We’ll be kind, courteous, we’ll listen and engage. At some point though we run low on our internal supply and we have to excuse ourselves from your social calendar for a bit. It’s hard for introverts to find a partner that doesn’t constantly drain them but instead integrates well with our safe spaces. And having kids? Oh lord. If you have an Introvert friend and they have a new baby, be grateful if they muster the will to call you semi regularly much less meet you for coffee.
New life changes can be especially hard on introverts. A new city means a new life with new routines, new people to meet, new friends to make, and so on. Still, even though it’s exhausting at times introverts still need friends. We still need companionship and to have fun and have someone to talk to. We get lonely just like anyone else. It’s hard to make friends though when you don’t want to hit up that new club downtown or join the big group heading out to a loud dinner in the crowded restaurant.
So take a second look at your friends. Could you possibly have any introverts in your midst? Maybe you could try harder to carve out a different area for them in your life. Maybe invite them to one on one or small get-togethers but be understanding if they can’t make it. Make yourself a little more available to them when they’re ready and willing to hang out. Take the time to learn some of their favorite activities that make them feel more comfortable. Don’t get offended when they seem a little distant if you do meet up. They may just be making an effort to give you attention even though they may be drained at the moment. If you go the extra mile for an introverted friend, they’ll recognize the effort. Not only that, they’ll appreciate it more than you will ever know and they’ll return the favor whenever they can.