I consider myself to be an introvert. This means that I find that social situations drain my energy, whereas staying home alone refills my energy. That doesn’t mean that I don’t like social situations or seeing my friends, it just means that I need to be emotionally full first. It is kind of like money. You earn money, and you spend money. Introverts earn our “money” through solitude. Extroverts earn “money” through social activity. Similarly, our spending habits are opposites. Introverts spend their “money” through social interactions, whereas extroverts spend their “money” through solitude. Neither is bad or good, they are just different.
My husband and I are both introverts. We either both wither or both thrive in any given situation. Unfortunately, this means that we don’t get out much to see our friends. It also means that we don’t have many friends to get out and see. We haven’t invested the emotional energy to develop such friendships. I have a grand total of 68 friends on Facebook as of right now, one of whom is a stuffed elephant. I guess I have kept my circle of friends small out of fear of vulnerability. The perception I hold of myself has also been one of being rather unremarkable. I will do for someone to talk to if no one else is around.
Last night I went to a party for the first time in who-knows-how-long. Actually, I can probably count on one hand the number of adult parties I have been to in my life. It was a fantastic party. It was fun trying to identify everyone’s costumes (some people were very helpful and wore name tags as part of their costume). What struck me most, though, was that although some of these people hadn’t seen me in probably ten years, they remembered me. They spoke to me and engaged me in conversation. I was ashamed that although I remembered them, I did not recognize them for all the time that had passed. These are people who remembered my children getting up to toddler antics, and these particular children are now grown, living on their own, with one planning a wedding next summer.
Vulnerability is ok
The evening made me realize that people outside of my family do care about me. I know intellectually that this is true, but I have been very slow to accept it. People really do want to be my friend. It is I who have been shutting people out. I am the one who has been missing out with my fear of vulnerability. I do wish to expand my social network, but I feel very awkward in my attempts. But nothing ventured, nothing gained, so perhaps I can seek out more people and more social situations. Maybe someone wants me to be their friend, too. Although social gatherings expend my energy, they are a valuable way to spend it.
Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert? How do you spend out and refill your emotional energy?