Reverse Loneliness

It used to confuse me that personality tests usually identified me as an introvert. After all, I’m not shy, I enjoy connecting with people, and I like to think I’m pretty good at it! However, when I heard the difference between extroverts and introverts defined as whether a person is energized or depleted by spending time with others, I realized how truly I am an introvert. I also see it in the contrast between myself and Matt, who is a strong extrovert. While I love spending time with others, I need downtime alone to recuperate afterwards, and although I may feel energized by a conversation in the moment, my resources are in fact being used up, which I really feel at the end of the day.

I was reminded of all this as I have spent this week alone for the first time since May – on Tuesday everyone left for a mission trip to the East coast, and I had an 8-hour work day that was pretty busy because of the long weekend. When I got home I expected to take the dog around the block and probably crash on the couch until I could justify going to bed. Instead, I cleaned everything. Kitchen, living room, bedroom, dining room, tidying, sweeping, sorting, throwing out. I felt so alive! I made soup from scratch to use up cauliflower I bought on sale (ie. without a plan to use it). I did walk the dog, and I gave myself a pedicure while watching netflix.

The fact is, I hardly recognized myself compared to how I’ve been feeling the last month or so – lazy (or “relaxed” shall we say?), unmotivated, whiny, irritable. It has not been that nice, and I’m sure it hasn’t been a picnic for my three housemates either (they have been very gracious). Rather than ruin it with too many questions, I decided to simply enjoy my new self as long as she stuck around, and then I read a blog post by someone who just discovered after years of thinking they’re an extrovert that they are an introvert, and it was like a light came on inside my head. I am an introvert! My mind exclaimed, And that is why I am thriving in this empty apartment! I’ve been sleeping so much lately because it’s the only way for my brain to be alone! And I just never realized because I like the people I’ve been around 24/7 for the last two months – but of course.

I know that this empty apartment might well become boring or lonely before everyone gets home, but in the meantime it’s so comfortable. I appreciate the conversations I have at work or with neighbours, and then I appreciate turning the key in my door and stepping into my home as I left it and settling into solitude, like wrapping up in a quilt (on a cold day. I certainly don’t need to be wrapping up in any actual quilts, the humidity is plenty). I don’t know if anyone else is the same way, but I realized that I think I was burning out on reverse-loneliness, or whatever we introverts can call it – the need to be away from people. For the last few months, I have spent without refuelling, and I am grateful to suddenly find myself in an oasis of time and space. I miss my people, don’t get me wrong, but I know they’ll be back in due time, so I’m soaking up now for all it’s worth.

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Susan 07-07-2012, 11:19

OK, this one made me cry. We’ll have to talk when I see you, because I can’t write the words down here.


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