A few months ago, I watched an Instagram reel that resonated with me more than anything else I had ever seen. It featured a caption that stated something along the lines of “…people being confused by me, a people-pleasing introvert, because I can be engaging and bubbly for a few short minutes when approached by others…” This caption accompanied a video of a friendly guy who at the end of the video, turned away seemingly looking exhausted by the conversation. The content creator of this reel has made several other videos on the subject. One stated that he “…makes incredible first impressions but then goes MIA for every attempt at meeting again.” I felt that as well. That is me, but unless you know me well, you wouldn’t know it.
During a recent conversation at my son’s school, someone asked what I plan on doing after I graduate (I am currently working on my master of social work degree). I said that I want to work in macro social work since I want to work behind the scenes because I am an introvert and people drain me. She responded with “You are NOT an introvert!,” but reality is that I am.
I seem outgoing and have conversations with people I don’t know well. In a way, that is a survival technique.
I will even attend social events in order to not disappoint others and because it is what is expected of me to do. And it’s not all bad; I do enjoy these things to some extent, but they leave me feeling terribly mentally and emotionally drained. This past Christmas season was the worst. For two weeks in a row, I had back to back Christmas events and holiday parties to attend. Not to be dramatic, but I was left feeling like I was barely hanging on and that if I had to go to one more thing, I was going to die. The only thing that would get me through the day was imagining how I would be able to lay in bed at the end of the day and be away from everyone.
Most introverts know however, that not everyone drains us. I can spend hours upon hours with “my people,” who actually leave me feeling energized instead of drained. If you are familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality inventory, they usually end up being INFJs or INFPs (I am an INFJ), or others that I am close to or have known for a long time. But the people who energize me are few and far between.