Tips for Extroverts with Introvert Friends

I recently read the book “Quiet” by Susan Cain. Reading this book was like reading about myself. Why do I get so burnt out? Why do I have such a hard time taking on other commitments outside of work, especially commitments involving people? Why do I love the days when the weather quiets the city and keeps people indoors? Why do I get so annoyed when I’m interrupted in the middle of a task at work? Why am I risk-averse? I am an introvert.

This book was incredibly validating. It even gave me some insight as to why some relationships in my life can sometimes feel strained without any fault on either side being at fault. I deeply value people who are more on the extroverted side of the spectrum because without them, I would probably miss out of a lot of great experiences. At the same time, my alone time is of serious importance for me. It’s how I recharge. It’s how I process a problem I’m having or destress. I don’t want to be pressured out of that time. I also don’t want to upset a friend by turning down an invitation. Let’s be real—invitations. Plural. It isn’t personal. I just need a little less stimulation. I came up with a list of tips based on my own experiences for extroverts who have introverted friends. Obviously, communication on both sides is very important, but I can only speak from my perspective. So, here we go.

1. It’s not personal.

I just said this, but I feel like this is worth restating. Not wanting to participate in a particular activity doesn’t mean we don’t like you, or that we’re mad at you. I probably means we need a break.

2. No means no.

Seriously, though. We’re adults. Why are we still peer pressuring each other? If your introvert friend says, “no, thank you” to an invitation, I can assure you we are not looking for you to show us how mad you want us to go by begging obnoxiously. Another thing Cain points out in “Quiet” is that introverts is that we feel a higher level of guilt than others. Sure, if you beg us, we’ll probably go, but we won’t be happy about it. We’ll probably be a little annoyed with you, too.

3. Give us a minute.

A few years ago, Harrison and I took a trip to Arizona with his family. Five days… in a timeshare… with my mother-in-law… who does NOT. STOP. TALKING. The first day I was back in Denver, a friend of mine immediately started to talk to me about weekend plans, and I’m pretty sure I snapped at her, which I immediately felt bad about. I didn’t understand why I did that. The truth is, I was at my limit of human interaction. Being presented with an invitation to partake in further human interaction was too much. I needed some time to recharge before making more plans, and I needed my friend to back off. Just for a little while.

4. We are bad multi-taskers.

This was a huge epiphany for me because I have thought for the longest time that I multi-task like a pro. That was incorrect. I’m just efficient, and I know how to prioritize multiple tasks and go back and forth between them. Since I read this book, I started to understand why my stress level gets as high as it does. For example, I have Skype for Business at work. This if, of course, rarely used for business. Sometimes chatting with co-workers is a great way to get through the day, but if I have too much work to get done, and I have co-workers trying to chat with me, I start to get really anxious about all of the directions I’m being pulled in. So, I ignore the blinking Skype box.

5. We know what we need.

I was going through a bit of a rough patch recently. I was sad, stressed out, unhappy with my job…all of it. A friend kept asking me to do things, and I kept saying that I just wanted to stay home and not be around people. She replied that it sometimes helps to do “low-key” things with people when you’re stressed. I’m pretty sure I wanted to throw my phone at that moment. I had just stated what I wanted—what I felt I needed at the moment, and she questioned that. I understand the inclination toward offering solutions to “fix” a problem, and that it takes an especially enlightened person to understand that most of the time, that is not possible. In a lot of cases, the best thing you can do is say, “That sucks. I’m sorry. Please let me know if you need anything.” This doesn’t only apply to an extrovert/introvert friendship. It applies to basically everyone. If someone tells you they need something, who are you to think you know better what that actually need? I know I’ve probably done this to people, too. And I am deeply sorry for that. I’

6. Calling us misanthropic might hurt our feelings.

Introverts are not misanthropes. This is about stimulation not any individual or group of people. If you read this blog or know me personally, you know I have an affinity for yoga. I know some people find yoga strange because it’s a workout with an ideology attached. But that ideology is one of loving yourself and others. I take that seriously. I believe all humans are valuable. Everyone has something to offer. Accusing someone of essentially being hateful toward other humans just because they recharge by being alone is rude, hurtful, and incorrect.

 

For these relationships to work, each side has to try to meet the other where they’re at, which is difficult. Introverts have to set boundaries for their own self-care, but also be willing to get out of their comfort zones sometimes. There might be a cool experience waiting on the other side of that comfort zone. Extroverts have to respect boundaries and be willing to back off sometimes. Sometimes, we just need different things.

An actual conversation

Me: I have a question and you’re not going to like my question.

Harrison: Okay.

Me: Have you clipped your toenails since we got back  from New York? (I noticed when we were visiting Harrison’s parents for Christmas that his toenails had reached an uncomfortable length.)

 HarrisonBlank stare

 Me: You’re going to stab the poor woman at the reflexology place. You stabbed me while you slept.

 Harrison: I don’t like the precedent we’re setting.

 Me: What precedent? That I have to remind you to clip your toenails?

 Harrison: I mean, why even get married? A transcript of this conversation should be our proof. (Internet- I’m providing proof that I’m basically married.)

 Later…

 Harrison: Now I have a question for you. When was the last time you took out the trash from your bathroom (yes, we have separate bathrooms) because it’s always overflowing.

 Me: You’re probably right.

We’re disgusting people, and I’m not sure when we’re going to stop living like we’re in college.

The birthday post

Today is my birthday. I always become very introspective around this time every year. I suppose that’s a normal thing to do…reflect on the year. Consider what you’ve done or maybe haven’t done. This is probably compounded by the fact that my birthday is in December, the month when people begin to collectively do the same thing. It’s been a pretty good year. It’s been a busy year. I feel like this year kind of got away from me. That’s probably why I’ve been thinking about time and balance a lot lately. Things seem to move so quickly, and I don’t seem to have enough time (or energy) for all the things I want to do.  If you asked any supervisor I’ve had at any job, they would probably tell you I’m great at these things because they only know me as an employee. And I’m a damn good employee.

But what about all of the other ways I identify myself? That is where I get stuck, and I can only assume that many other people have the same struggle. I sometimes lose direction without the structure of being an employee, and that sucks. Even today, I took the day off work, and I laid in bed for at least an hour trying to decide what I wanted to do with my day only to find myself in a coffee shop with my laptop doing this. Don’t worry. I’m seeing Lady Gaga tonight, so it’s not an entirely lonely day.

Creativity and art, and having an outlet are important to me. That’s why I have this website and it’s really not very good if we’re being honest. That is also why I spend a lot of time observing the art and creative outlets of others. I admire it and am envious of their drive and talent that I have convinced myself don’t have. But there is so much more I want to do that I only think about because where would I fit it in the time that I have? If we’re talking about numbers alone, I probably have the time. It’s finding the energy that becomes the problem. If you’re an introvert, and you have a job that involves dealing with people all day everyday, you can likely relate. Working with the public is exhausting in general, but it’s a million times worse if you are a more introverted person. It drains you to the point, that you don’t have much left by the end of the day, and you look forward to the weekends because you can close the blinds, and watch an entire season of a TV show on Netflix and (this is key) speak to no one except maybe your cats. Harrison has a hard time understanding this. He likes to tell me that I’m the only person standing in my own way, which is true, sort of. But then it becomes a question of self-care. Do I sacrifice that for a while? I don’t know what the right answer is.

I’m a millennial. One thing that is true of millennials is that we crave meaningful work. I only find that to be true of my job a small part of the time. The rest of it is corporate bullshit, office politics, and “leaders” making shitty decisions.

I could get a new job, and believe me, I’m working on it. It’s hard to sell yourself with a piece of paper. It’s a cruel guessing game they play in HR departments everywhere. All of us are sending in these documents, hoping we used the right key words, so a computer will tell a human they should maybe take another look or call us or (holy shit) meet us in person. I hate every piece of that process.

In the meantime, I need to recalibrate the amount of energy I put into my job and shift it to other areas of my life. It is in my nature to work hard and care a lot, sometimes to the detriment of myself. I get it from my dad. Work, contribute to a 401K, retire happy. Minus the mountain of student loan debt that is going nowhere fast, I’m doing those things with about a C average. I have to start finding things that fulfill me. As I get older the regret starts creeping in, and I do not want to be on my death bed thinking about all of the things I wish I would have made time for. The happy retirement piece might be questionable if I keep going the direction I’m going.

This is a sad birthday blog. Sorry. I’m happy. But I’m trying to figure out how to be happier as I plant myself solidly in my 30s. Being an adult doesn’t have to be plagued by things you have to do but don’t really want to, right?

I guess it’s a New Year

I do not enjoy New Year’s Resolutions. I do not enjoy goal-setting in the way that it’s often discussed. I think it leads to a lot of disappointment because we set goals that we don’t know how to achieve and then wrack our brains to figure out what went wrong. We want to lose 20 pounds or save money. Okay, but how? And I’m guilty of this, too. Everyone is. Regardless of how I feel about this custom, I always seem to turn to self-improvement this time of year. It’s a natural thing for us to do. I begin to think about what happened last year and how I can make this year better. Keeping that in mind, I’ve obviously been thinking about the upcoming year and how I can make it better than the last by building on what I’ve already done and the things I know will offer me growth as a human.

Here we go!

Yoga goals

 This might be the only area where I’ll make a quantitative goal, and that is to get to a minimum of 3 classes a week this year or at least an average of that. By ensuring a consistent practice, I can only benefit. The amount of quality sleep I get far surpasses the sleep I got a year ago. I’m happier, my mind is quieter in the moments I need it to be, and I have strength in my body I didn’t know I could have.

There are some things that I still struggle with when I go to class. I found a studio that I love this year, and eventually, I could see myself teaching. I have a tendency to retreat and try to be as anonymous as possible, even though I see the same teachers and students all the time. I have a hard time embracing the community aspect of this practice. It’s an introvert thing, I guess. I have wanted to expand my social circle for a while, and this seems as good a way as any. Making friends as an adult is hard, and I have a place that is not work that provides that opportunity. I should take advantage of that.

Money

If I ever want to do ANYTHING exciting, I need to be a lot smarter about money. I eat out too much, particularly during the work week. I buy coffee in the morning instead of using the coffee maker I have in my kitchen. I have a bad habit of ordering in whenever Harrison is gone in the evening because I hate cooking for one. It’s such a waste of money. I’ve made some progress the first two weeks of the year. I’ve packed breakfast (because I definitely don’t get up early enough to sit and eat breakfast pre-work) and lunch at least three days a week, and I’ve made coffee at home about the same number of days. I’ve only ordered in once, and I made two meals out of it. I have a good stock of things in the pantry that are simple meals for one that I can eat when Harrison is not here. The challenge here is to avoid slipping back into old habits.

Books! 

Last year, I read more than the year before. I’d like to simply continue that trend and also read consistently through the whole year instead of letting it taper off around June. I’m not a crazy ferocious reader like some people. I was browsing the blogosphere, and saw someone who read 9 books in the month of December. Who has time for that? I love reading, and I love to learn. But I also have a full-time job and other things I want to do. I also enjoy television as an art form. Yes, I said art form… and also as a way to turn my brain off when I need to.

You can become my friend on Goodreads or look to the right and see what I’m reading.

Complement and congratulate 

I am incredibly even keel in my day to day. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, but I do think it’s a product of my incredible ability to go through the motions and not really pay attention to what’s happening around me. I’m really good at showing up, but I’m not the best at expression of feelings. So, things happen to people I’m close to, and I act like it’s just any other thing. I don’t know if this is a flaw, but it might be. People deserve to be complimented for good work and congratulated when something awesome happens. Doesn’t mean I have to had these out to everyone, but I should do it more.

Be present and reflect

 As I mentioned above, I’m really good at going through the motions, but I don’t feel like I let experiences penetrate the surface. Things just happen, and then I move on. Granted, most of my days are painfully boring. But how much is just passing by without a second thought. So I’m going to try this Bullet Journaling thing and see how that goes. Remember what your teachers told you? Writing things down helps you remember. I can barely remember what I did this morning, and I think that’s because I just move without experiencing. Every picture of Bullet Journals I see on the internet looks really pretty and artsy. I don’t think mine will look that nice, but we’ll see.

Things I’d like to reintroduce to myself this year:

  1. Cross-stitching- It’s the only crafty thing I’ve ever been decent at, it can include swear words if you so choose, AND it makes a really good (and inexpensive) gift.
  2. Music- I’ve become a bit lazy about keeping up on new music, which is a little embarrassing for someone with a Music Industry Studies degree.
  3. Some sort of creative outlet…or maybe I’ll try to make this thing better. I miss performing, but I need something that feels right.
  4. Activism because Trump is what happens when we become complacent. See you at the Women’s March next week, Denver.

The best birthday gifts when you’re 30

I didn’t really have a formal birthday celebration this year. Part of the reason for this was that the dark cloud of November bled into the first part of December. Harrison’s grandmother passed away the day after he came back from visiting her, which was less than a week before my birthday. Harrison had to leave again pretty quickly for the funeral.

While he was gone, I did enjoy dinner and drinks with a few friends, I watched my sister try on wedding dresses (weird), and I took my sister to see Tig Notaro. Harrison bought the tickets as a birthday gift.

Harrison came back early the morning of my birthday. Of course he came ready to make the day all about me. He picked up breakfast on his way home, and he had more gifts he had been waiting to give me.

We spent the day doing the things we love together like Yin Yoga and artisan coffee. Spending a whole day together is something we don’t get to do much lately.

We saw a movie and had dinner with my parents. It was during our dinner conversation that I realized how much I have to be grateful for at 30. I have grandparents who are only in their 70s and are still in relatively good health. Harrison just lost his last grandparent at 27. I am very lucky. I have parents who are healthy and would have my back if I really needed them.

These are the best gifts as we all move deeper into this shit show we know as adulthood- things we’ve always taken for granted. Maybe it was the lack of any formal celebration that helped me to see with more clarity that the best gift is time spent or the ability to still spend time with those we care about.

Addendum:

I have no idea if I’m using “Addendum” correctly, by the way.

I went to the doctor the day after my birthday. I already had the day off, and I needed to renew my birth control prescription. This is VERY important. I went in preparing myself to be violated with a metal or plastic tool resembling a duck’s beak, but then my doctor said, “I looked at your results from last year, and it was normal, so we don’t need to do a pap this year unless you want to.”

Serious question- Who would respond to this with, “Yes, please. I would very much like you to fondle my lady-bits for medical purposes?” NO ONE WOULD!

I sent Harrison a text when I left thanking him for not giving me HPV… although it’s more surprising that I didn’t get it from one of the idiots who preceded him.

My doctor did want to do a breast exam. Fine. Necessary. Important. While, she was feeling around my boobies, she also had her head cocked to the side to read the tattoo on my rib cage. I love that tattoo, so I was happy to discuss it…while lying on my back…arm overhead…her hand to my tits. I can’t decide if it would have been more weird if we had been silent.

She also wanted to do blood work and look at all my “levels.” A couple days later, I got a phone call that went like this:

Medical Assistant: Hi, I’m calling from Dr. Leopold’s office. I have your results if you have a sec.

Me: Ok.

MA: So she wanted to do a full panel and check your liver, kidney function, cholesterol… all of that.

Me: Ok.

MA: Everything’s normal.

Me: That it?

MA: Yep.

Me: Ok. Thank you.

It was a lot of build-up for normal. On that note, I will say that I am incredibly grateful for my health.

Bring it on 3rd decade.

Fuck you very much, November

Hi again.

I’m alive.

Here’s a list of things that happened in November:

-Donald Trump was elected to be our next president. What the actual fuck, America?

-I had a dental deep cleaning the day after the election. They had TVs on the ceiling all conveniently tuned to CNN.

-I put purple “peekaboo highlights” in my hair, which is basically the messiest thing you could possibly do to your hair. That shit leaves purple residue on everything for like 2 weeks. I did it as a way to feel better after the election.

-A friend was in a very difficult situation that I won’t talk about here for the sake of her privacy, but it was incredibly stressful.

-I got sick and lost my voice. I haven’t 100% recovered from that.

-I was dog-sitting for a week, and after a few peaceful days, the dog started trapping one of the cats in the bedroom. He charged at her every time she wanted to come out. I had to carry my cat into the kitchen to eat. I was reminded why I don’t have a dog.

 

Okay, but seriously, let’s talk about the election. I went to bed crying and shaking that night while Harrison tried to comfort me. I flipped the TV off as our new orange tweeter-in-chief was about to give his victory speech. I couldn’t watch it. I barely slept that night, and I felt like I was on the verge of tears for the next several days. I hadn’t felt that kind of grief in a long time.

The night of the election, I was at a local gay bar watching the results come in, and as it appeared things were not going to go the way we all expected it to, the mood became heavy. The future was less certain suddenly. As we sat and watched and occasionally tried to distract ourselves with cigarettes and mixed drinks, a stranger walked up to me and asked if he could give me a hug. He told me that his girlfriend is a trans woman, and he was concerned for her safety. We both started to cry.

That interaction will stay with me forever.

Harrison said a few time in the days that followed that we might not be directly impacted day to day, but then I thought about some things. Will my birth control continue to be covered? I’ve already tried the IUD, and that is a no go for me. What about how I pay my student loans? That could change. My healthcare could start costing more because I have a vagina, so that’s a fun thing to potentially look forward to. Yeah, Obamacare fixed that shit.

And it’s not just about me, obviously. Unfortunately, the stranger who was afraid for his trans girlfriend’s safety had a reason to be. About a week after the election, a trans woman in my neighborhood in Denver woke up to see that her car had been vandalized. I live in the Capitol Hill Neighborhood in Denver. If there’s a “gayborhood” in Denver, this is it, so I was livid when I heard about this. You don’t mess with the LGBT community in this neighborhood. You just don’t.

The problem isn’t with any policies…yet. The problem is that people who hate so ferociously now think they can do so freely and openly. And that damage is already done.

I’m not here to spend all of my time talking about all the things I’m afraid of. I spent a lot of time trying to find the place where I feel powerful, and that is really hard when a man who thinks that all women can afford contraception is about the run the Department of Health and Human Services, and a man who was previously denied a position because he’s too fucking racist could be attorney general.

What can we do to take back our power?

We can put our money where our mouths are. Donate. Donate to Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, the NRDC, The Trevor Project, or any of the numerous organizations who will stand up for the marginalized. Hey Colorado! Colorado Gives Day is next week, so there’s your chance!

Stand up for people and stand up for yourself. Call people on their bullshit. You do not have to allow hateful language in your space.

March. Protest. Peacefully, of course. It’s your right, and they need to know we are still here.

Listen. Have empathy. Try to understand where other people are coming from. You don’t have to agree, and to reference my previous point, that doesn’t mean not calling people on their bullshit if they a spewing nothing but.

Use facts.

VOTE IN THE MIDTERMS, DAMNIT!

Live loudly. Live proudly.

But mostly, BRING ON DECEMBER because November fucking blew. Enjoy this last full month of the Obamas before we have an actual trash bag for President.

Oh.. and it’s my birthday soon. Muthafuckin 30! Here I come 30s! Maybe my 30s will help me get my shit together a little better than I am currently managing.

 

 

 

For the love of (insert whatever deity you worship here), please vote.

Tomorrow is election day, I am begging with whoever might read this to pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease get off your ass and vote. I’m going to guess that anyone reading a blog by a self-proclaimed feminist who has also written about gay pride and anger over gun violence might share some of the same views that I do.

Here’s the deal- Democrats have been historically lazy in elections. I surmise (at least in recent history) this is because so many people on the other side of the table are driven by bullshit paranoia like that their guns will be taken away, or that all the Muslims will kill us and if they don’t kill us, we’ll have to start living under Sharia Law. None of this is true, of course. And the people who believe this live in a sad world governed by fear. Fear is an incredibly powerful tool, and it’s incredibly effective in getting people to take action like vote for a racist, sexist, xenophobic, misogynistic buffoon who hasn’t coherently outlined a single policy in his entire campaign.

Fear like this is far more powerful than the fear of a Donald Trump presidency because surely he can’t win right? Wrong. He could.

So this year, rather than being governed by facts, logic, and reason, I beg of you, please let this fear of a Donald Trump presidency drive you to get off your couch and get to your polling place. This is absolutely the only time I will suggest letting fear drive you. Please please do not let this man become president.

Need to know where your fucking polling place is? Click here.

vote-for-hillary-clinton-free-vector-409
Duh. I’m supporting Hillary Clinton because I’m not a loon. You should, too.