If you’re an introvert like me, you might find it hard to speak up and ask for what you need. Even if what you need is as simple as a moment of silence, you feel like a jerk for asking. I totally understand.
I know what it’s like to feel like your needs are silly or shameful. After all, you’re surrounded by extroverts whose needs are drastically different from yours. They need noise and busyness when you need quiet. They need closeness when you need space.
Too often, your introvert needs get overshadowed by the needs of more vocal people. After a while, you start to believe that you don’t deserve to ask for the things that will make you feel happy. On top of this, you might not even know how to ask.
This is so hard for introverts
The words get caught in your throat. Suddenly, a simple phrase, like, “can you please turn down the music”, is heavy as lead. Before you even open your mouth the words sink back down into your belly.
But these unsaid words stay with you, and they can poison your happiness. I should know.
I used to feel incredibly awkward asking for what I wanted and needed. Going with the flow was my default setting, and it still is a lot of the time.
But I now know that I can speak up when I need to. Sure, asking for what I need is uncomfortable, but doing so prevents energy drain and resentment. Take the other day for example.
I was carpooling with another female comedian and her friend to a show in a city about an hour away. Her friend was very chatty and curious. This was fine on the way there, but the ride home was a different story.
I was beyond exhausted, totally spent. I needed to sit quietly and let my mind wander. In the past, I would’ve avoided asking for a timeout from talking. Instead, I would grit my teeth and bear the conversation assault. Or I would just stop responding and let my bitchy face and silence do the talking. That never worked.
The person would interpret my silence as an invitation to talk even more. Or they would start asking annoying questions, like, “why are you so quiet”, or “is everything okay?”
This time I did something different
The moment we got in the car and started the long ride home, I knew what I had to do. The Chatty Cathy tried to start a conversation, but I told her plainly:
“I’m totally exhausted. I’m just going to listen to my music and zone out.”
Because I said it early and without any guilt, there was no anger or fear in my voice. There were no hurt feelings, no misunderstandings.
She was like, “Oh cool, no problem.” And I popped in my earbuds and escaped to fantasy land.
It can be this easy with any innie need that arises. Let go of the guilt, ask for what you need in simple plain language, and enjoy the sweet rewards.
Falling in love with NYC during a recent trip. Follow me on Instagram
The problem I have with this advice is a kind of hangover from childhood. I grew up with a widowed mother and she always became very angry when I stated my needs. If I wanted to sit quietly she would always try and get me moving and talking, but if I told her clearly that I needed to sit quietly, she would get offended and angry and say things like ‘Oh! Well! Who am I going to talk to then!’
So I learned never to clearly state my needs or I’d receive anger and sometimes spite in return. Being an introvert made this worse of course, because I don’t have a lot of energy to waste arguing about why I needed peace and quiet.
So maybe some other introverts had similar situations, and find it hard to state their needs plainly. Is it just a question of practising til we get it right and feel comfortable with it?
I know it has nothing to do with being introverted but I just LOVE that lace up top!