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being an introvert in community

 
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I agree with so many, many points of view recently shared. Inge's that it can get easier. Julia's that she perhaps reaches a people saturation point and needs less interaction. Leila's that adapting to some things in our society might be less than healthy to begin with. Plus Stacy, Jack, and Raven - yes!

We have moved in to having more folks here again after a busy summer, and I've been holing up in my room a lot, in order to keep my energy up. I think I will actually do better next week when I will be the cook for the group. When I have a purpose, a job, a role within a group, I'm better able to cope with being in a group over longer periods of time. It's a bit counter-intuitive, perhaps, but I think it will help me.

It's interesting to me that I've recently listened to one book, and have started a second book, that both relate to how our health can impact our senses, our psychology, our mental health. I'm not at all implying that anyone needs to be "fixed" because I definitely learned the hard way that, IMHO, some personality traits just ARE. They will be a lifelong thing, despite all efforts to change them. Though I am finding these books interesting, and how, perhaps, in some cases, some extreme, debilitating aspects can be minimized or improved by some rather simple things. I know for me, my mood is lighter and more positive if I avoid all wheat/gluten--really, most everything is much smoother in my world without gluten.

The first is Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain for Life by David Perlmutter, MD (Amazon affiliate link - US)

The second is Dirty Genes: A Breakthrough Program to Treat the Root Cause of Illness and Optimize Your Health, by Dr. Ben Lynch (Amazon affiliate link - US)

So, having a role, a job, or a purpose helps me. Avoiding gluten helps me. Getting the right food, supplements and sleep helps me. And...perhaps I'm becoming more of an introvert due to working at home, on a rural homestead, and having a half-year habit of lots of alone time. Though even when I worked in a corporate job, lived in the suburbs, had a family and helped in the kids' schools, I was still more of an introvert than most folks I met. I also remember that back then, too, having a role or a job gave me a much welcome anchor and framework for dealing with other people.



 
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I had depression and extreme social anxiety for a few years in my early twenties.  As I moved closer and closer to a vegan diet my mental health got better and better. I think many people would benefit from tweaking their diets like you are, Jocelyn.

What Inge was saying about levels of introversion changing made me think of my experience with that. I don't think I've actually changed but my life has changed in a way that allows me to function differently. When my husband and I were living in a city while he did his degree, we rented a suite in our landlords house. They had odd hours of work and someone was almost always home. Even though I didn't have to see them, hearing little noises from their area and just knowing someone was home was taxing for me. Combine that with living in a city where you can never go anywhere without having someone else around and a job dealing with the public in an often pretty intense way and I was exhausted all the time.

Now we live in the bush, with our closest neighbours three km away. Right now is a slow time at work so I don't see clients much and do a lot of computer work. I think I'm still just as much an introvert as ever but getting rid of the constant drain on my energy means I can actually enjoy the social interactions I want to have. My inlaws all marvel at how much more talkative I am since we've moved. My relationship with my husband is better than ever because we both (he's introverted too) have more energy to devote to another.

I have no idea how I would be able to function living in a community.  For a start, I think I'd need a little hut somewhere that no one even knew existed.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Jan White wrote:They had odd hours of work and someone was almost always home. Even though I didn't have to see them, hearing little noises from their area and just knowing someone was home was taxing for me.



This.

Thanks for sharing Jan.

It's odd how sharing our home some times affects me, some times doesn't. I'm learning more about it each year, each season, each new group of folks.
 
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:

Jan White wrote:They had odd hours of work and someone was almost always home. Even though I didn't have to see them, hearing little noises from their area and just knowing someone was home was taxing for me.



This.

Thanks for sharing Jan.

It's odd how sharing our home some times affects me, some times doesn't. I'm learning more about it each year, each season, each new group of folks.



Just knowing that someone can see/hear me is taxing. I need to be ALONE. When I lived in the city, I was never alone. If I went outside, someone could see me. Someone could potentially wonder why I was doing what I was doing. I was always thinking about what other people might think, and it was so taxing. There was always a shroud of stress over me. I never wanted to go for walks because there were always people. Even in our house, it was hard, because it was a duplex and someone lived upstairs and so I could never just turn on the music and dance or belt out a hymn without someone potentially thinking about what I was doing. I hadn't realized just how hard it was on me until we moved out to our own 5 acres and I could finally be ALONE.

Now, of course, I have kids. So it's only maybe once every week or two that I actually get to be alone. My brain, I know, is functioning a whole lot less well than it did when I actually had time alone.
 
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Nicole - interesting, I was just thinking that when my children were little, their noise didn't bother me so much. I always had a houseful of children, my own four and often 4+ more. Children have never bothered me. I think it's largely that I have low expectations from them. They are just being children, they don't know better. Unfortunately, adults don't seem to even try to be considerate. I find them so disappointing.

I do agree, it's horrible here in the city. You just can't get away from them. I don't worry about what they think, don't really care. I just don't like them. So I take my walk at sunrise and only run into a couple of people.

Jocelyn - I'm the same way. I like a role. I like knowing what to do and what's expected of me. So I like hosting and I love cooking. The books sound interesting. I'll look into them, though I could never be gluten free or vegan. I've tried gluten free and honestly decided I would rather be dead, but that's just me. I expect vegan would be the same. We all have our deal breakers.
 
Nicole Alderman
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My kids are definetly a lot less taxing on me than dealing with adults, especially strangers all day. But, I still have to always be thinking of what they're doing, if it's going to turn into a fight, how to help them get ready for bed without a meltdown, that I need to feed them, that they want me to play when I really need to dig up the potatoes or prune the blackberries. They always need me (they'll be 2 and 5 in October), and though I love them and they light up my life, I do wish I had more time to do whatever I feel like doing without having to juggle their needs/wants, too.

But, yeah, kids are a WHOLE lot easier for me to socialize with than adults. Kids are much less complicated, and love to learn and I love to learn and share knowledge and play silly games, just like them. I loved teaching preschool and elementary, though it was socially exhausting. But, I NEVER would have survived working in, say, customer service all day!
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Here's an apt illustration!



 
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I think that I'm somewhere in between introvert and extrovert. If I live alone I crave community and social interaction. I'm talkative and enjoy meeting people, even strangers, and I really enjoy it. But now that I have a husband and kids, they take up all my "social energy". I simply don't feel like I have any energy left for other people. But I try to think that there will be a time in my life when I have energy for other people too. Hopefully I still have some friends left then Luckily my best friend has children too so I think/ hope she understands at least partly.

It is possible that this is not only about introversion but other personal/ interpersonal stuff too. Maybe I need to work some more on my boundaries too.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Nina, I think it's *really* common or normal for mothers to get maxed out on people. The caregiving, even with easy kids, is nonstop; and most of us do not have nannies, housecleaners, cooks, landscape maintenance workers or other support staff! I think even with support staff, it's a different type of tending or managing people, so it's not always easier and probably/ironically not less people interaction either.

It's interesting what drives us to wanting space, or more self time for renewal. And I think you are so right that it's not just introverts!

Though I still want secret passageways to avoid people!
 
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The reading nook picture reminded me of my old trick.  I would hide in a closet with a book and flashlight.  The trick was to leave the bedroom door ajar so someone would stick their head in, glance around and think I was gone.  It worked beautifully...and gave incentive to keep closet floor neat so I could fit😀
 
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You may think you're an introvert but how would you like to spend 27 years alone? From age 20 to age 47 Chris Knight did just that in central Maine! The author Michael Finkel fascinates us with the true story of The Stranger in the Woods recently published.He lived in a tent deep in the woods but not far from seasonal cabins.He never lit a fire!
 
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Stuart Sparber wrote:You may think you're an introvert but how would you like to spend 27 years alone? From age 20 to age 47 Chris Knight did just that in central Maine! The author Michael Finkel fascinates us with the true story of The Stranger in the Woods recently published.He lived in a tent deep in the woods but not far from seasonal cabins.He never lit a fire!


Someone like that is an 'extreme introvert', I would call him a 'hermit'. My answer to your question is 'No'. I don't like to be all alone all the time, only some time.
 
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Not sure how I feel about this film.  But it got me thinking about things.
 
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I had a mixed reaction to the video "Introverts Anonymous" as well...

I think the above video "Introverts Anonymous" is confusing the personality trait of being Introverted with the mental health condition of Social Anxiety Disorder. Someone can be an introvert but not have Social Anxiety Disorder.  Also a person who suffers from Social Anxiety Disorder doesn't have to be an introvert, extroverts can have Social Anxiety Disorder too. The two are not the same thing. Also being shy is not the same thing as Social Anxiety Disorder.

Despite the video being named "Introverts Anonymous" it actually seemed to be portraying a group of people who have Social Anxiety Disorder. It showed a group of people who "suffered" from "Introvertism" and who wanted to be "normal" and therefore went to a weekly group to "get help". The group counselor encouraged them to " do something an extrovert would do". As if becoming extroverted was better. So I think it really misrepresented Introverts.

That aside I feel it had a good point that was thought provoking; the need to step outside our individual comfort zones in life in order to purse our desires and goals. That stretching ourselves is part of personal growth and while it can be pretty uncomfortable, it can lead to great rewards. Also that taking risks, even very small ones, are a necessary part of life that should be learned to be embraced instead of feared.

That's my 2 cents anyway.

 
r ranson
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Adrienne Halbrook wrote: I had a mixed reaction to the video "Introverts Anonymous" as well...

I think the above video "Introverts Anonymous" is confusing the personality trait of being Introverted with the mental health condition of Social Anxiety Disorder. Someone can be an introvert but not have Social Anxiety Disorder.  Also a person who suffers from Social Anxiety Disorder doesn't have to be an introvert, extroverts can have Social Anxiety Disorder too. The two are not the same thing. Also being shy is not the same thing as Social Anxiety Disorder.

Despite the video being named "Introverts Anonymous" it actually seemed to be portraying a group of people who have Social Anxiety Disorder. It showed a group of people who "suffered" from "Introvertism" and who wanted to be "normal" and therefore went to a weekly group to "get help". The group counselor encouraged them to " do something an extrovert would do". As if becoming extroverted was better. So I think it really misrepresented Introverts.

That aside I feel it had a good point that was thought provoking; the need to step outside our individual comfort zones in life in order to purse our desires and goals. That stretching ourselves is part of personal growth and while it can be pretty uncomfortable, it can lead to great rewards. Also that taking risks, even very small ones, are a necessary part of life that should be learned to be embraced instead of feared.

That's my 2 cents anyway.



That's a very good summary of how I felt watching that.

 
Adrienne Halbrook
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I really enjoyed this thread. I'm an INFP-T, scoring 93% introverted. I've definitely noticed the high number of introverted personalities here on permies. I can really relate to so much discussed in this thread.

My husband is an Ambivert, he is a balance of both introverted and extroverted. He can rely on either trait when he needs it.

When he works (he travels for work and works as a contractor in his field and does big jobs several times a year) he works 6 days a week on 12 hour shifts, 1 day off and repeat for 2 months or so at a time. He is with a group of people all the time, sometimes only a few and sometimes a big group. Then after work he often goes out to dinner with a few people from work. Then on his day off he does all his laundry and shopping, often with a friend, then usually spends the rest of the day with a group from work at a BBQ or something. Totally extrovert kind of life! He enjoys it and only needs a little bit of alone time each day, often watches a tv show then goes to bed.
That lifestyle would kill me!

But then when he is not working, he'll be off work for a few months at a time, he will spend most of his time alone in his shop. He will be working on projects, doing vehicle and equipment maintenance, etc. and doing jobs around our property all alone( I help when I can but we have little kids so sometimes its just not something the kids can be around). He will often spend 12 hours a day alone. He just puts on some music and gets to work. He'll come in for lunch and then be back out there until late at night. Then he will spend an hour or so with me and the kids and then go to bed. He's totally happy being alone all day. He just needs a little social time each day.

When his projects get put on hold for some reason we will do a family day together. He's a great dad and loves being with the kids, he just is a very driven personality and gets totally absorbed in his projects.

So he really has the best of both worlds being a balance between introverted and extroverted.

I like being introverted and would not change that. I do need to try to be a bit more social though... I would like to have a social network of like minded people in my local community but I'm never going to find them if I don't get out there and look for them, get involved in stuff, talk to people, etc. It's hard to do though, I really don't want to! But at the same time I do want to...
 
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I was thinking about being an introvert in community, and also some of the issues with people not pulling their weight in community or not behaving in a lovely manner. And I was reflecting on some experiences I had traveling and sharing housing with friends for a few months recently.

I always want to contribute more than I take from any shared situation and to be confident that I am in no way “leeching”. And I am a minimalist and dislike clutter, so I am usually relatively tidy (although sometimes the tidyness is...time lagged, shall we say).

But as we traveled I noticed a tendency to want to duck out of various chores such as cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, making travel arrangements, etc. in favor of lying around in my room/the backseat of the car while my friends did these things. I fought this tendency for weeks, and tried to make up for it by contributing in other ways, because I am not a total asshole, but I knew I was getting to be a drag and my friends could feel the psychic waves of sullen grumpiness even when I hid my feelings as best I could.

And then one day! They left at daybreak on a tour that I was not interested in and stayed gone all day! And after like five hours of sprawling out on the bed ALONE with NO ONE AROUND being totally worthless I suddenly revived. And I did all the household chores and walked to the local grocery and shopped and came back and organized all our supplies and cooked dinner and dessert and had a pot of tea waiting on them when they arrived and was just generally all smiles.

I was somewhat surprised, since my friends are relative introverts as well and we tend to give each other space and privacy, go exploring on our own, retreat to our rooms if we have them, etc. But it turns out that I occasionally need to have the domestic space all to myself in order to stay balanced. It is something to do with feeling sheltered from the outside world AND the presence of other people at the same time, which I do not get if there is a “danger” of my friends emerging from their rooms or showing back up at any moment, or if I am “alone in a crowd” outside the house.

And what I realized was that here were three interrelated things pushing me to give in and act like an asshole:

1) I was just plain exhausted by not getting enough space/privacy/recharge time at home, and when I am exhausted I, like most people, do not want to deal with chores.

2) The chores were often done in shared space or as a group, making them even more difficult for me to work myself up to.

3) Letting my friends do the chores while I stayed in the car/my room was a way to get some precious space to myself for a while.

So I conclude that in order for me to live successfully in community, I need:

1) my own private space, probably detached, sheltered from the sight and sound of other community members (preferably including sheltered/secluded outdoor space as well)

2) significant periods of time in this private space where people do not just drop in unannounced (this doesn’t have to be true all the time)

3) ways to contribute to the community and pull my weight that don’t involve being in shared spaces or working in groups all the time (although sometimes sharing space/labor is very nice)
 
Nina Jay
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Your post was very helpful to me, thank you Jennifer! The level of practical details was especially helpful.

I think that part of the challenge with many introverts (like myself) is to: 1) get to know our own needs in detail so we can communicate them and 2) communicating them to others.

I can see from posts on this thread that using "I" sentences works well. I think the key is though, whatever the words used, to try and arrange (negotiate) the practical living arrangements so that they work for oneself. Hoping that others will sense my needs or get the hint when I want some alone time hasn't worked for me. And if I really think about it, I don't actually even want it to work, because then I'd have to guess other people's needs all the time too, and that gets exhausting pretty soon.

 
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Just want to throw this into the mix., as food for thought... hopefully not too OT... for whatever it might be worth.

"...All men's miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone..."   Blaise Pascal
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Another slightly off-topic thought, though SO true for me!!




(Heh.)
 
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We have volunteers every year to help on our finca, and, no matter how nice they are, I find always eating together really stressful, and when I am dong my chores, I hate offer of help (we have volunteers to do stuff I CAN'T do). I prefer to set them off on a job of their own and prepare lunch for them, and my husband, and use the  excuse that I ate while I cooked, and disappear off for a quiet sit.  Hubby has said I appear antisocial.  He is absolutely right!  I think when the hoyse us done and I can have rooms all to myself I will be better. I could never live in an intentional community and I am in awe of people who do.
 
r ranson
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Here's a video about being a successful introvert:

 
r ranson
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from a youtube comment: Introverts of the world, unite... No, there would be too much of a crowd;)
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Mandy Launchbury-Rainey wrote:We have volunteers every year to help on our finca, and, no matter how nice they are, I find always eating together really stressful, and when I am dong my chores, I hate offer of help (we have volunteers to do stuff I CAN'T do). I prefer to set them off on a job of their own and prepare lunch for them, and my husband, and use the  excuse that I ate while I cooked, and disappear off for a quiet sit.  Hubby has said I appear antisocial.  He is absolutely right!  I think when the hoyse us done and I can have rooms all to myself I will be better. I could never live in an intentional community and I am in awe of people who do.


I can relate! Just the other week I learned that one resident here, and several visitors have been quite stressed over the joint cooking and joint meals in our house. It's also stressful to me and I miss my alone time in the kitchen. I'm re-structuring my days though and am hoping to have more alone time in the kitchen, soon.

r, that video was really helpful. He is quite the artist with his videos and his stories. Thank you.

This belonged here:


I don't think I need days to recover from "the futility of words," but there have been times that I've just needed my evenings to myself. Many or even most evenings. No visiting with others, nor even sharing a show with others. A large part of my day is spent sorting out accounting and payroll issues for clients, with vendors, with others, so even when it is a lot of e-mail or virtual communication, it's still communication with people. And I need a break in the evening.

 
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Again, as i was saying a page or 2 back, i think the KEY is to be radically honest and proactive about making your wants and needs known.
not to place blame on the introverts, but for me this is helpful, carving the space i need by making my truths and ways known.

not to place blame on anyone! of course...but just saying, introverts generally need to learn to be more assertive and open about certain things.
and people respond better to this, now they know what you need and want, and how you are, so anyone who's respectful will take it to heart and accomodate. it may turn out...well it may be that they don't even want or need to...go to you for direction, eat with you, or whatever else comes up. it can be that when we have that kind of radical honesty, things become clear that neither party should be conforming to pressures that dont exist really.

so many times we operate rather subconsciously, and according to so called norms and ideas we have...like it's antisocial to not enjoy eating with others, or theres a pressure from more extroverted types to always be sharing. i think it's important to realize that we are all coming from different places, more extroverted types do NOT EVEN REALIZE this, its very automatic for them to make certain assumptions, and certainly supported by the extroverted run world.

I am  self starter, and theres definitely a gap between self starters and those who would rather be told what to do and how to do it. that sort of thing actually irks me, i am not big on being told what to do!
i will tolerate it, and am good at working with others, in general, but to be true, it does irk me often. This is probably true for most self starters...it's how we work, we want elbow room.

i personally also get irked by people's energy pulling on my sleeve, especially when i am in the middle of something, and especially especially if someone is doing so just to chat and without pressing reasons.
and for someone else its something else...some people dont mind if you drop in announced, some do. some people are quite happy to be distracted by others for no reason at all, some are not.

so i think getting to the bottom of this with very blunt communication and everybody laying it all out, well this should be encouraged, and introverts in general should be more direct and totally honest about what they like and dont like...without feeling like they have to sacrifice that for no reason.
 
leila hamaya
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maybe you all will get a kick out of this, not my fave by him, but i got a few chuckles from this...

 
leila hamaya
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apparently he also has done an uncharacteristically serious vid about introverts...

 
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Interesting how JP Sears's styled and quality evolved over the 5 years or so between those videos. Thanks for posting them, leila!
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Winter is here, and the holidays are upon us. (Replace "Christmas" with your winter holiday of choice.)



 
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Yeah,  super introvert here.   I DO like teaching in small doses though,  especially something I love and have abundant knowledge to share.    I interact with community a lot by sharing...   not necessary interacting in events though.     Sharing produce,  sharing plants,  sharing materials,  giving away things I no longer need or want.   Services I'm good at are another way;  like helping someone care for their pets, livestock,or plants when they need to be away.   "Acts of service" are my primary 'love language' and how I show and feel cared for.    I try to say "yes" to at least a few social invitations..   it still feels good to be INVITED and have the offer made,  even if I don't really want to GO to whatever the thing is,  but folks dont ask if you say no too often.   And that's on me,  but it feels bad to be left out of invitations and events  EVEN when you know it's because they understand you'd rather no go to it.   The introvert conundrum, ha.  But when I do go sometime I even have fun.  It takes a lot of energy though and can't be sustained a long time.   Once a week is more than enough for me.   Fun thread.
 
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