As an introvert, mostly what I've learned is that I am enough, just as I am. Yep, I'd rather be reading next to my sweetheart or hiking in nature than screaming small talk at an event. After reading Susan Cain's book Quiet some time ago, I've made peace with my previously-tortured, introverted "self" who frequently self-flagellated for feeling freakishly abnormal and ashamed that people, noise and extended social interactions left me seeking refuge in the nearest bathroom or quiet and solitude for days.
A few years ago, I was at a psychoanalytic event for eating disorders, chatting and doing my best at small-talking with other therapists. it was hot, bright and crowded! I found myself hugging the wall for comfort. I politely excused myself and rather frequently, to seek some space. At some point, a colleague looked at me, and rather intensely asked "do you have an eating disorder because you keep leaving? I do not, but I wanted to spill and say, "no, I'm actually an introvert and need to escape NOW because I’m feeling overwhelmed." Instead, I simply apologized and stated that I had some "phone calls to return." We are a society and culture that values extroversion—quiet people are often misunderstood, undervalued and asked to have qualities that they do not naturally possess. Faking being anything other than your true, authentic self comes at a price.
I've since developed a great deal of acceptance and self-compassion for the way my brain and nervous system is wired, and as a result, how I need to function in the world. I make efforts to create situations that support my needs whenever I can. It is sometimes a challenge for me to make plans for next month or even a week from now, because I'm not sure how I'll feel on that day. Will I be able to rally for an event or social gathering when I need those resources the most? I've learned to embrace my brain differences, and have acceptance for my own needs. This includes my need for personal space, my need to retreat or create boundaries, and especially my need for recovery after extended social contact--it's a brain thing.
As it turns out, we now know that introverts need time to recharge and recover sometimes by