Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Introvert's Curse

I am an extreme introvert.  If you had asked me two years ago if I was an introvert, I probably would have lied to you because I thought it was a bad thing then.  Introverts were shy and meek people that were a bit off (weird) and were probably gamers.  As I continue my therapy (I know, I know - it has been forever since I have written about my therapy but I still go.  Shit - I need all the help I can get!), I have learned so much about myself and I can now proudly proclaim that I am an introvert.

WAIT, WAIT, WAIT - I can hear you now complaining that this isn't true.  The Cameron that you know is outgoing and friendly (introverts can be outgoing and friendly) most of the time but just sucks at relationships.  Did you ever wonder why I suck at relationships?  I did.  I have wondered and struggled with this for years.  It has been a huge cause of my depression.  I now realize that it is not by choice - it is by nature.  This is not an excuse for me coming off like an asshole  - I shouldn't do that.  This is just an explanation for why I can come off as short and sometimes insensitive to the extroverts I live and share this world with.  I am different.

My reality from http://dan.life/introverts-lets-charge-batteries-betterment-world/
I need time alone.  I need space to recharge.  I need room to be with my thoughts.  I came from a large family so you would have thought I would have learned this skill at an early age but I never did.  I have my entire life felt that something was wrong with me - that I should really like being with other people and that they should energize me.  This is what an extrovert feels and thinks but I never knew this until my therapist had me take temperament evaluations and questioned me extensively.  Jennifer knew immediately when she met me that I was an introvert but she has studied hard to be good at that.  Me - not so much and it has taken most of 2 years meeting with Jennifer almost weekly for me to begin to believe I am an introvert.  I may have known it but I stilled privately denied it to myself.  I just didn't know what that really meant yet.  

I have to give credit to our marriage counselor as well.  She knew I was an introvert the moment she met me too.  She recommended for months that we read "The Introvert's Advantage" but we put it off and put it off.  Heather finally purchased the book on her Kindle and started reading it while sharing excerpts with me from time to time.  I still wasn't reading it until one day while traveling for work I downloaded it to my iPad.  BAM!  Where has this book been all my life???  Everything in it agrees with me.  The author cautions the reader that most introverts won't associate with everything she writes (there is a gradient to introvertedness after all) but I couldn't find myself disagreeing with anything.  FINALLY -  I was starting to accept what being an introvert really means and is.

The Introvert's Curse - I am proud to be an introvert but at the same time I am cursed.  Very cursed actually.  It is thought that over 75% of the world's population is extroverted and even more completely misunderstand what an introvert even is.  Shit - I am one and didn't even understand it.  I have to overcome my own expectations for myself, reset expectations that others have for me, explain to people what my needs are, and finally make sure that my needs are met so that I can be the best father, husband, brother, son, uncle, and friend that all the people in my life deserve.  

Recently I did not do this and it has really bitten me in the ass - big time.  I am in so much trouble with one of my biggest advocates in this world - all because I was in shut down mode and didn't let her know.  I used to blame my anxiety and depression which are just excuses and bandaid bullshit.  I am currently doing very well and do not feel depressed.  Sure I am unhappy with my job (fucking hate it actually) and things could be better elsewhere but this is not my depression.  What really happened is that I had been overstimulated by people (we had just had our Derby party and the weekend before I attended a Social Shenanigans networking party in Denver) but I didn't tell anyone.   I didn't recharge either.   I bottled it up and was an asshole to everyone around me.  I just needed to explain that I was overstimulated and needed time to recharge.  Instead I completely IGNORED my biggest advocate's offer for help and pissed her off - trust me, she is pissed.  You should see the text I got.  I need to call her soon.

So what does all this mean?  How can I turn my curse into my advantage?  I am going to continue to trust both my therapist and my counselor and read more of the books they suggest.  I am going to re-read The Introvert's Advantage on an upcoming vacation.  I am going to explain to people that if I seem disengaged and distant that I might just need some recharge time.  I am completely new at this but the last thing I ever want to do is turn away my support network.  I unconsciously recharged my batteries in the past with running or snake hunting.  It is amazing that once a door is open to my personality that I can see all my past behaviors in a new light and they all make sense now.

Running is a good way for me to recharge
Running - when I was running a lot, I often thought I was running from my work, procrastinating writing my thesis, and avoiding responsibility.  Now I see that I would go running immediately after teaching labs at UGA for a full day.  I would go running after being on campus surrounded by 1000's of other people.  I would go running after a day working at REI dealing with customers.  I was running a lot and it was just my way of recharging.  Running also lifts my mood making me less prone to my depression.

Snake Hunting - I have said many times and very vocally that the only time I feel like I can truly be myself is when I am out looking for snakes.  I can get away from people, lose myself in myself and nature, and recharge.  I am happy.

Look at that Snake Smile!
I haven't allowed myself the luxury or recharging which is probably a huge part of my depression.  I feel guilty when I go running or go on an all day Snake Hike.  Why?  No reason except that I did not understand that I NEED that time alone to recharge.  If I don't get it I am the asshole that sucks at relationships.  In order for me to become better at relationships, I need to recharge.  I need to COMMUNICATE this with the people that love me.  I need to let them know that I am not running away from them but rather recharging so that I can be with them in a more meaningful way.  I might have the Introvert's Curse but I am going to turn it into my Blessing.

Additional recommended reading and where I got the first photo for this post:  http://dan.life/introverts-lets-charge-batteries-betterment-world/