I’ve been called a lot of things in my life: antisocial, unfriendly, boring, a party pooper. These misconceptions have come to fruition because, on the outside at least, I don’t seem like the most outgoing person. I may sit quietly at a party. I may decline a number of event invitations. I may stay home more often than not. But I assure you, I’m not an asshole.
I’m an introvert.
I need time by myself to recharge my batteries. As a SAHM to a 3- and 4-year-old, getting downtime is practically impossible. The kids are always with me, talking and touching and following so close that we form a mini train going around the house. They’re needy, and that’s their job. I don’t resent them or being a SAHM.
But this position does suck a crap ton of energy out of me, which means I need a crap ton of time to rest and recharge. When this magical window of time becomes available, I don’t feel the need to run out and socialize. I feel the need to spend time alone.
Here’s a scenario: My husband offers to take the kids grocery shopping, which allows me to have some time for myself. He also says he’s going to go up to his friend’s house for dinner and asks if I’d like for him to come pick me up before going.
I politely decline and — bam! — instantly I look antisocial. I look like an asshole because I’m choosing to stay home by myself instead of going out and being social and friendly with my spouse and kids.
Or what if I do put on my big-girl panties and go to a party, even though I’m totally emotionally drained? I spend the evening sitting in a corner by myself, sipping a beer while quietly hoping no one comes over to talk to me. I’m present. I’m there. But I’m also performing an exercise in self-preservation, because I know if I try to be outgoing for the sake of appearances, my anxiety is going to peak, and I will really need to leave. On the outside, I look like I’m being standoffish. A party pooper. A wallflower.
I know how it looks. It looks like I’m an asshole. It looks like I’m too good to hang out with certain people or that they’re not worth my time. It looks like I’m always sitting in quiet judgment while perusing the crowd of people at the party. It looks terrible.
But I don’t care what it looks like. Not anymore, at least.
I’ve spent my whole life this way. I’ve learned what happens if I don’t get downtime. I’ve felt the ugliness inside of me when I’m so exhausted from being around people. And I’ve learned about self-care. I know that in the long run, skipping a night out with friends in order to rest is actually way better for me and my mental state than forcing myself to go out in order to save face. I’m completely at peace with who I am and the choices I make. I know what’s best for me, and no one else does.
So if you think I’m antisocial or unfriendly, that’s your problem. I know, deep down, that I’m a great friend. I’m fun, engaging, and outgoing — when it is on my own terms. I know that I’m a hoot-and-a-half when I let loose.
But I’m also self-aware enough to know my limits: when to go out and when to stay in.
I may look like an asshole, but I’m just an introvert.