Sunday, February 07, 2010

Introvert...That'd Be Me!


Yes. I'm an introvert. This isn't news to me. I've been aware of this for quite some time. Recently I've become very tuned into the characteristics of introverts & the way that I behave when I don't get what I need as an introverted person.

The reason for my self examination as of late, is that I've come to see that my 2 year old daughter Claire is also an introvert. I can see that she is already being misunderstood because of her tendencies & as her mother (understanding completely what it feels like) I feel very protective of her & I want to make sure that I care for her properly in a world that will tell her there's something wrong with her.

Introverts are not shy. They simply process everything internally. Studies have shown that their brains actually operate differently than extroverts. Extroverts think things out by talking. Introverts gain energy from being alone. Extroverts gain energy from being with people. I enjoy social get togethers, but I can only take so much. After a certain amount of time, I'm done. It drains me & in order to get my energy back, I need some time alone. When we've scheduled too much time with friends & family and I haven't allowed for down time, I get super grouchy. When I haven't had time to recharge, I don't really want to be touched & I don't want my kids climbing all over me. Sometimes I feel like a mean, horrible person, but I can't help it. I need just a little bit of time to myself & I feel much more sane, much more energized & I'm ready to love & care for my family again.

I'm learning that being aware & attending to this aspect of my personality is really important. I don't have to be at every party or social outing. Even with family members, I don't have to go on every shopping trip or every vacation. Sometimes they just make me feel crazy & it has nothing to do with the company.

Likewise, I'm learning to understand extroverts better as well. They're not repeating themselves a million times just to annoy me. They're actually thinking out loud.

With Claire, I notice that some get upset that she doesn't want to give hugs or whenever an adult talks to her she withdraws a bit & hides behind my leg or climbs on my lap & puts her face in my shoulder. I feel strongly about not forcing her to do anything she doesn't want to. I'm sure that in the right situation & when pressure isn't placed on her, she'd more than happily engage in this type of socializing.

I remember reading about introvert & extrovert children in the book Raising Your Spirited Child, which I really need to own. Why do I not own that book? I think that scheduling either social time or alone time for your child on a daily basis is just as important as getting them fed & to bed on time. Also, I found these online articles interesting. Anyway, I love my family & I love my job as a mother & I want to do all I can to make sure our lives run smoothly & every person & personality trait is being cared for.

This post feels like it's all over the place. But I've been thinking so very much about this lately & I want to share & connect with any of you out there that go through the same things. I find that sewing really helps me to stay balanced in my life. I always thought that it was the creative process or working with my hands that was therapeutic. Perhaps it's the time that it allows me to be alone with my thoughts. Maybe it's a bit of both.

Any thoughts on this subject?

36 comments:

Sonia said...

I am an introvert also...and to be honest, didn't even realize it until my therapist pointeed it out. I I don't have alone time, I am a VERY unhappy person. I seem to have gotten worse the older I get. My 2 youngest children are introverts as well..and yes, it can be difficult. Otheer people always assumed they were shy, or even rude.....but they're not outgoing kiss/hug everybody kinda people....but i'm ok with that.

Anna said...

I agree about being an introvert. I'm very much so and my oldest daughter seems to be displaying the same characteristics. I think sewing is great alone time for me, something I was definitely needing. I enjoy the quiet time that sewing provides. :)

Stacy said...

I can totally relate. I need my alone time and the hum of the sewing machine can be very therapeutic (unless I keep having to use the seam ripper in which case I just walk away and take deep breaths).

Trin said...

Wow, I could have written this post. My daughter is even the exact same way. Like you I feel a need to protect her (and stick up for her) when some adults want to try and force her to do something she doesn't want to do, like giving hugs and never force her to do anything she isn't comfortable with.

It was nice to read this post because although I knew that my daughter is an introvert, I never really gave a lot of thought to it. buying that book is a must :)

Melanie said...

My daughter and her cousin the same age are complete opposites- my girl is the extro and her cousin the intro. It is really, really interesting to see how they both react to the same situation, and it is remarkable how dfferent they are. But they are best buds! My sister owns that book because she was trying to figure out her daughter, and it helped us both out. I think as long as we as moms play to our kids' personalities, it will help them be happier in the long run.

it's like this, cat said...

you've described me too - and fortunately i'm very aware (as introverted, sensitive people tend to be) of what myself and my daughter need to be happy. i find the worst are many activities designed for parents and tots, but really not designed for introverts.
i found parts of the books 'the highly sensitive person/child' to be helpful...
thanks for sharing...

Deb_in_oz said...

I am with you! you definitely need to own your own copy of RYSC - all of mary Sheedy Kurchinka's books are helpful but that is the key book!!

I am spirited and an introvert and my younger daughter is spirited extrovert. raising your spirited child helped a lot and the biggest thing for me is our introvert/extrovert difference. One of my support people told me that a reason i struggled with dd2 was because we were so similar and that was true when she was little and i had PPD, but now our biggest challenge is her always needing people and action and me needing that time alone to recharge. SHE DRAINS ME OF MY ENERGY!

I always made sure i had some down time alone and on weekends my hubby knows that when i get extra cranky it is because i need to go recharge. I will just go to the shops for a few hours and get our groceries or browse the books at Borders. even 30-45min can make a huge difference in how the rest of our family time goes.

crafterhours said...

AMEN. That's all I came to say. Amen! Susan

Heather said...

Candace--I am an introvert, and much like your other reader, I only discovered it when I first took my MBTI (Myers Briggs personality inventory). I have four grown daughters, and two of them are introverts as well. You have wonderful instincts and are obviously a terrific mother. I can tell you from experience that if you keep listening to your child as you do, everything else will fall into place. Another great parenting book to look for is "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk" by Faber and Mazlish. I can highly recommend this book...it's excellent!!

Tammy James said...

I Totally , totally relate to what you are saying. I am an introvert and saw these characteristics in my daughter much more prominent when she was a few years younger. I found a lot of value ( pre children ) in a book titled 'the introvert advantage' by Marti Olsen Laney oh and as I just googled to check the spelling I see she has a website too. : )

Jona said...

I am also an introvert and having a very extrovert mother is actually very exhausting :)
But we both learned to get along with each other and she isn't mad when I am sort of grumpy and doesn't want to talk, she just leaves me alone and gets back to me later. I still need to learn alot from her though, there are so many people that are thinking out loud and it annoys me each and every single time. Which it shouldn't!
So far, my patience with them is growing but there are some days when I just can't help myself and get mad at them for saying everything out loud.
I hope that when I somedays have kids, I treat them accordingly to their temper whether it will be introvert or extrovert.

kim said...

im proud to be an introvert and i contribute it to so much in my world even though it is difficult at times but i have also come a LONG way. im raising 1 introvert and 2 extroverts with their extrovert father. you're way further than a lot of people in that you have noticed these differences, but thats what we introverts do right. we notice things. and with that empathy comes the patience we need to have with them whenever they need it. it's all good.

Shay said...

Candace, great post, I love thinking out loud post like this. I think that a lot of people can relate to this and what you are feeling. We are all different and that is all there is to it. You are a great mom and an even better mom for thinking this all through. You look awesome it that pic by the way.

lm said...

Just came across your blog and so glad you shared this. I am a very social person but also get re-energized by having alone time. I get tired of feeling guilty that I don't want to go to every event. It helps to hear of your thoughts.

{lizzythebotanist} said...

i'm an introvert, raised in an entirely introverted family. everything was peaches till i married into a completely extroverted family-one who i have a hard time not viewing as competitive and obnoxious;) it's been really hard on me. i feel like a kid fighting for my place in the family. i never went through confidence issues or things of that nature, and i'm not one who generally needs a lot of confimation, but when i'm around these guys who are constantly competing for attention and asking for approval, i feel like i get left in the dust, forgotten. it messes with my head. family get-togethers with them always result in my sneaking away to breathe and regroup (and even a phone call to my mom to ground myself). it's exhausting! my daughter is an introvert, my son an extrovert. it's amazing how differently they process things-one of the things i've tried to really encourage with my son is to be more observant-to notice the introverts and the small signs they give off in a situation. i don't want to change him, but i want him to be more aware of the introverts around him. as for my daughter-she's my carbon copy, so i think she's a little easier for me to understand. i never force her to do things, i let her do it on her own on her own time, the way i know i like to do it. i've heard of the book you mentioned, but haven't checked it out. i think i will now-thanks for the push!

Reece's said...

Candace thanks for the great post. You have set my day off right! Obviously,I am NOT an introvert! HA! But, I have someone in my family that I want to be like, uber close too, BFF'S for sure, and I just cant get her to crack her shell...and its been like 5yrs. and still...not an inch further in our relationship than the first day I met her...and as soon as I read this post (and the comments) I realized that she isnt shy, or that it isnt that she doesnt like me...she is an introvert!
Thanks for helping me come to this realization...I think it will help a lot!

June said...

Wow! I needed to read this post today. I had a "discussion" with my hubby about this yesterday. Maybe he's an introvert. That would explain a lot. Thanks!
I'm off to do some research.

Grace =) said...

one of the things I love so much about sewing and now ceramics is that the process of crafting/making keeps both my hands and mind occupied. I can think about things, sure, but I'm also making decisions about my project, planning my next step, planning my next project, etc. For a chronic worrier like myself, it forces me to live in the present instead of worrying about the past or future. I have some time to just be still and do something I enjoy.
I'm not sure whether I'm an introvert or extrovert. I used to always say extrovert because if I'm by myself for too long I become miserable. But when I'm with people too long and don't have a chance to be quiet and alone I become miserable then too, not because of the people I'm with. Just because I need to be alone sometimes. Funny that you posted this because I was thinking about it this weekend. :)

Have a great week!

Erin L said...

me = extrovert. All the way. I gain energy by being with people. When I'm feeling frustrated I need people! And I need to talk everything out. Dave is an introvert. But we both realize it, so we're willing to accept that. I don't know about our kids. Ana seems to be extroverted. She likes being with people and is always sad to leave her friends' house. But that definitely doesn't mean we don't butt heads because we do.

alison said...

Wow! I am so not feeling 'weird' anymore, thanks so much for putting into a post what I just CAN'T!! While reading this I realize that some of my kids are REALLY extro and some are REALLY intro! And its not that they don't need the same amount of affection, etc--but I recognize that the quiet time the kids get at night to read or whatever REALLY works for my intro kids, they enjoy that peaceful time. While the extro kids don't really like it at all and seek us out (read: sneak out of bed) just to be with us some more.

undonegirl said...

My only thoughts are Amen to that! As a fellow introvert you have eloquently described my process of re-energizing as well as to understand the temperaments of my children and raise them accordingly. So many don't believe me when I say I'm an introvert because I'm able to socialize. You said it perfectly when you said we're not shy, we just can't handle a lot of the interaction without some time alone.

christina said...

You described me to a T.
I remember explaining to my husband that going to the mall actually physically exhausts me. Like I need a nap. I like being around people, but it is draining. I love my friends and I love socializing, but I love my recovery time as much. I've been like this since I was a kid, too. So crazy, I remember hiding behind my mom too. And she was always really good about it.
Thanks for posting this. It's nice to know there are more of "us" out there.
xo

andrea said...

Have you ever read 'Please understand me II?' It's by David Keirsey. It is the coolest book about this stuff. Check it out!

Jenny said...

Thanks for this post! I am a lone introvert in a family of extroverts (husband, son, daughter.)I think I'll have my husband read this! Funny how many of us out there have blogs for the world to see. A very safe way to express our ideas and thoughts, without having to throw ourselves into some overwhelming situation.

Candace said...

Wow! So many comments! It is comforting to know that there are others out there that understand. No, there is nothing wrong with us! We are awesome because we think & feel things more deeply. Power to the introverts!

Sounds like there are some really great books out there on the subject. Thanks to those who have suggested additional reading.

And I'm pleased that some of you may have had an "ah ha!" moment in regards to somebody in your life that you maybe haven't fully understood up until this point. Understanding is all it takes....going both ways. It's all for the greater good, right?

Shari and Amber said...

Preaching to the choir here!! Everyone always says I am an extrovert, but I know I'm not. My daughter Finley was recently diagnosed with SPD (Sensory processing Disorder) and the more I learn about it (whether through books, her weekly OT appointments or weekly Psychology appts) I realize that I HAVE SPD! I simply never knew, but I can now understand my daughter so much better and not get upset by the fact that she prefers to stay home than go to the park, and at birthday parties she would prefer to play in a room alone than be in the room with all the kids (but she LOVES the idea of going to the party!) Anyhow, I could write a book here but I won't. It's amazing what we can learn about ourselves from our kids :)
Shari

carolyn said...

Thank you, thank you.
I am an introvert -- but no one would guess that, because I am neither quiet nor shy. My 11-year-old is an introvert, yet she is the goofiest, zaniest child I have ever met. What you have posted has helped me understand what I already knew about Madeline and I. Thank you.

Ali said...

Hmm, that gives me a lot to think about. I've always just thought of myself as very independent but maybe I have some introvert characteristics. The comment about extroverts really hit me as well. It drives me insane when people say the same things over and over again (especially in church). But maybe that is just how their mind works and thinking things through then giving a brief answer might be my (introvert) way.

I too, like to be social but enough is enough. I'm definitely not the "Girls Night Out" kind of gal and maybe this explains why. Hmmm

Froggylady said...

I'm an extrovert married to an introvert and it was just recently that I started doing more research on just what that meant. I think everyone should "type" themselves and learn about the differences so they can get a long with others more easily and so that parents can encourage their children to do what feels natural.

Lisa said...

You've described me and my daughter to a T! I've only embraced my introverted nature as an adult. I was always embarrassed to be an introvert as a child and would vehemently deny it if anyone told me I was an introvert. I believe the majority of people are extroverted and society tends to celebrate the extroverted personality. Posts like yours help those who are introverts understand better that there is nothing wrong with it. And helps extroverts understand how better to relate to introverts. Thanks for a great post!

Eva said...

It seems like you've described me exactly! I definitely need my alone time, and when visiting family or family comes to visit I can only stand it for so long. I lived with my inlaws for 2 years but I felt I really couldn't be myself and was really always grouchy, I just needed space and time alone. Thank you for this post :) it's good to know that others go through the same thing and there's nothing wrong with that.

Karilyn Sanders said...

YES! ME TOO! Just the other day we were at my husband's co-worker's birthday brunch and later she told my husband that she didn't think I liked her:-( I was really sad to hear that but it's just because I'm processing things in my head and sometimes just don't say what I'm thinking. Just because I'm not that talkative doesn't mean I'm stuck up or hate people. It's so nice to hear that I'm not the only one.

Maggie said...

This post made me teary! I am an extrovert, but I think my daughters may lean more toward the introvert side and I just realized, I probably do not give them what they need from me. I better read some of those articles to try and be a better mom to my introverts! Thanks for the links.

Sarah@Neoteric.Traditional said...

Yes! I get a couple of nights a month to go out with friends but I rarely get time alone in the house. At least not without pressure to clean up for the crazy mess the kids make in the blink of an eye. That's probably why I've been so cranky lately!

cottonjens said...

this is a cool post-Thank You Candace! I can relate to this, and really have enjoyed reading the comments too. though I have no children, you provide some warmth, empathy and understanding. The most helpful and easy tool i've found in handling many personal issues related to this is a website authored by a Dutch gal, Judith Hamerlinck. Her site is in Dutch be she gives identical English translation to all contents. Super interesting and refreshing thoughts about a myriad of practical issues - 600+ pages, easy search. If interested:
http://www.thebecompany.nl/homeEng.htm

Taj said...

i just read this and, like the others said, it was like you were describing me & my life (altho i don't have kids yet)! i'm inspired from reading this :)

i remember when i took a personality test during freshman year of college and found out i scored higher as an introvert than extrovert, i wasn't happy about it because most of my friends scored higher as extroverts and it just seemed cooler to be an extrovert while it's like something's wrong with you if you're an introvert (the career counselor made me feel this way!) it wasn't until years later when i finally learned that that wasn't true & that even the most outgoing, sociable people can be introverts while the shyest, reserved people can be extroverts; it's like what you said, it's how you process your thinking & different life situations (at home, at work) that determines whether you're an introvert or extrovert (or both for some).

i also had to learn NOT to feel guilty every time i need time alone...i used to think it wasn't very nice of me to withdraw from people whenever i needed to be alone. i felt like i was being rude & possibly missing out on exciting things or making things difficult for others. i later realized if i listened to myself more and gave myself some time alone whenever i need it, i become a better person around others & they enjoy my company more. when i have kids, i will remember this! thanks for posting a great one!

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