Life Coach Nancy Okerlund mentions in her newsletter, The Introvert Energizer, that introverts love specifically and individually.  An introvert is a person- to- person person. I’ll add that we love deeply as well. Our love is deliberate and thoughtful. We don’t give lots of people snippets of our attention.  We desire true connection with each person.  We meet people with our hearts out front, ready to receive and give beyond small talk.  I know extroverts do this too.  The difference is introverts may lose energy from the interactive stimulation and need to replenish it in solitude or quiet time. Extroverts thrive in the stimulation (to a point, of course).

Who Do You Think You Are Spending an Evening by Yourself?

I have my first evening to myself in 11 days. I curl up on the center cushion of the couch, pasta for one in front of me, Mad Men Season 5 Disk 3 in the DVD player.  I’m in introvert heaven, then my phone begins to buzz softly on the leather cushion next to me.  I turn it over and discover texts from two different significant people in my life.  I send thoughtful replies to both of them.  More buzzing.  Another friend reaches out via a text.  I read and respond. Meanwhile the two first texters have responded to my responses. As I read their messages a fourth important person joins in the text fest. Now I’m connecting madmensimultaneously but individually with four people I care about as the Mad Men menu screen taunts me with its episode selections and looping music. My heart wants to connect with these groovy people but it also wants to quell my desire for solitude.

Sure, I could tell them all that I have plans and need to sign off but telling people you are unavailable is so damn hard. They take it personally even though it has nothing to do with them (usually) and everything to do with your own need for space and recovery. I know many people who take pride in their constant availability. They make me feel selfish when I want to stuff my phone in a cupboard and leave the room. The truth is most of the time I don’t want to be cut off from people entirely.  I simply want to connect deeply at a manageable rate, preferably one at a time or simultaneously through writing.

Why Introverts Are In Demand Despite Their Penchant to Be Alone

Loners, if you catch them, are well worth the trouble. Not dulled by excess human contact, nor blasé or focused on your crotch while jabbering about themselves, loners are curious, vigilant, full of surprises. They do not cling. Separate wherever they go, awake or asleep, they shimmer with the iridescence of hidden things seldom seen.Anneli Rufus, Party of One: The Loners’ Manifesto

Maybe it’s an element of mystery, maybe it’s because we listen and love specifically, maybe it’s simply that people want what they can’t have, but introverts are not often left to their own devices.

Independence is attractive.  Most introverts can entertain themselves, no problem. We want to work alone. This is contrary to what extroverts expect.  They don’t understand how we  joyously celebrate when we find out something has been cancelled and we have a night at home without plans.

Because of our inward focus we are able to pluck insight, intuition, light and grace from a secret place known only to us.  Given space to reflect we offer ideas discovered in our reveries. We can be stingy with our company but when you have our attention we are generous listeners.

We Want to Love You All but There Are So Many of You

Introverts process conversation, stimulation and relationships so deeply that it takes a lot out of us.  We want to be there 24/7 for our loved ones but our brains become white noise if there is too much to take in in the form of words, sounds, body language, sex, attention, activity, giving, receiving, etc. We want to focus on our beloved but the outside world calls as well. We want to focus on our inner world but the lover has other ideas. Our depth-seeking selves can only manage so many hearts and conversations.  If we spread ourselves too thin we pay for it in fuzzy-thinking and feelings of being overwhelmed. It’s very difficult to listen generously and respond thoughtfully in a rapid-fire manner to dozens of people.  We have to say no, which is stimulating and leaves us feeling guilty.

We Like People, Really

I ended up watching Mad Men an hour later than planned with frequent text interruptions. touchinghands I didn’t get near the renewing effect I would have had I watched without distractions in complete absorption. I didn’t get my thoughts knit together and my memories stored completely in a much needed eight hour sleep session either. I set those gifts to myself aside  because people and connecting are important. I know I have to recharge.  I know I have to say No sometimes but I also realize human connection is equally nourishing, especially if done specifically and deeply.

Are you a social introvert? How do you keep from drowning in a flood of social interactions?