Introverts need alone time to recharge. It rejuvenates us, fills us up, and prevents us from turning into cranky little gremlins. No one knows this better than I do. So, please, don’t take it the wrong way when I ask the question: are you recharging or hiding?
I only ask because, over the years, I have spent a lot of time hiding from my personal Boogy Monsters. I know that I’m hiding, and not merely recharging, when I actually want to come out, but feel afraid of whatever monster is looming outside my door.
I told you before that I have dropped whole dress sizes while avoiding roommates I didn’t get along with. I holed up in my room waiting for my roommate to go out or contract some sort of non-lethal virus that would keep her bed-ridden for a while. In high school, I used to hide from the crowded cafeteria and its social hierarchies by spending lunchtime at choir practice and students’ council meetings.
Living in Mexico City during the holidays, you can bet that I did my fare share of hiding from never-ending parties that showed up at my front door. Admittedly, some of my hideout methods have been fairly healthy, and even productive. But I was still hiding nonetheless. In the game of life, I’d much rather be a seeker than the person who is hiding in the shadows, afraid to be found.
The way I see it, there are only three ways to address whatever we are hiding from. 1. We can take the “suck it up” approach and step out into the open where we face the things that make us cringe. 2. We can change our attitude. 3. We can change our circumstances.
Sucking it Up
The “suck it up” approach manifests as us going to the party, or the crowded lunchroom, or the kitchen where our evil roommate awaits. It might result in us having a good time, or at least coming up with a decent blog post about why introverts avoid parties. It could also leave us feeling drained, frazzled and angry at the world. I think most introverts are pretty well acquainted with sucking it up, so let’s move onto the other options.
Change Your Attitude
Changing our attitude means putting an end to the thoughts and feelings that are holding us back. Perhaps we feel guilty about leaving the party early the last time, and now we just want to avoid the situation all together. Maybe we are afraid that other people will judge us and criticize our behavior.
Many of us are prone to letting one negative encounter sour our entire perception of a situation. We cut off an acquaintance because his views on marriage make us feel uncomfortable, even though we really enjoy his sense of humor. We won’t set foot in a bar we used to love because one drunken idiot insulted us there a few months ago. Essentially, we throw out the baby with the bath water.
When we are able to identify the true source of our fears, it is easier to let them go. One thing to note is that thoughts and emotions are delicate entities. Trying to stomp them down and sweep them out of sight makes us feel numb and confused. A better approach is to accept what we are feeling and then allow more constructive emotions to replace our fear. Daily affirmations, journaling, prayer, spending time outdoors, and most recently, meditation, have helped me to cultivate a more positive perspective on life.
Change Your Circumstances
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we should change our environment to fit us, not the other way around. We are all grownups here, we know that some things in life can’t or shouldn’t be changed. But most of us are too willing to lie down and accept circumstances that make us miserable. We do this out of complacency, fear, the desire to fit in and the belief that we do not deserve anything more.
I spent the first twenty-two years of my life living in Canada’s capital city, Ottawa, Ontario (no, the capital is not Toronto, but yes we do live in igloos). I spent winters hibernating indoors because – News Flash – it’s really freaking cold in Ontario in the winter. I also felt inhibited by the conservative mentality that permeated the frosty air in my hometown. Still, It never occurred to me that I might be happier somewhere else. Luckily, fate took me to Canada’ s West Coast, where there is very little snow and an abundance of hippies. And, poof, I was happier than I had ever been in my life.
If you are in a city, job, relationship, social niche, or living situation that makes you want to hide away from life, maybe it’s time to make a change. Sometimes, small changes can have a massive impact. Other times, it takes a bigger change to draw us out from our hiding places and help us feel alive again.