For the most part, I like my introverted qualities. I didn’t always feel that way, but this website has been one of the biggest factors in changing my thinking. I no longer feel guilty for who I am and the way I’m wired.
Still, though, my introverted life is not without struggle. There will always be people who don’t understand, people who judge, and people who are just plain mean. I can deal with most of that, but there is one aspect of my introversion that causes a big snag.
That is my hatred of telephones.
Telephones Build No Bridges
Phones cause a whirlwind of pain and frustration for many introverts. First, that loud, obnoxious ringing noise yanks us out of our thoughts with no warning. For me, the frustration can be so bad that it’s almost physically painful. The fact that phones always interrupt whatever you’re doing makes them something to be despised, in my mind.
The second reason is that phones provide us with no bridge. Let me explain.
When we’re conversing with someone in person, we’re probably going to be a little nervous. As introverts, verbal communication doesn’t come naturally to us. Knowing we’re a bit out of our league, we may feel a little awkward and self-conscious to begin with.
However, the benefit of interacting this way is that you actually see the person. That means we can see their expressions, their gestures, their eyes, and their body posture. All of these things help us know what’s really going on so we can respond accordingly.
These are the things I call bridges, the visual cues that help us build a bridge between us and the person we’re talking to. We may not be masters of verbal communication, but many introverts (especially highly sensitive introverts) are pretty good at picking up on a person’s emotions and deciphering what’s going on with them inwardly. This intel can be powerful in a social setting.
But with the telephone, you get none of that. You’re cut off and you can’t see anything. It’s like dangling off the side of a cliff, trying to figure out how to cross to safe land with no bridge in sight.
You don’t get any body language clues with email either, but this type of communication is different. With email, you can step back and really think about what you want to say. You’re under no obligation or pressure to answer right now, and you get to write your answer as opposed to speaking it, which tends to be way easier for introverts.
So, for these reasons, I hate telephones and rarely answer when someone calls.
My Family Doesn’t Understand
Avoiding the phone is fine with me, but it’s not so fine with my family. You see, I’m the only introvert in my family. I’m not sure how it happened, but it did. My very extroverted family believes in and pushes for near-constant bonding and communication.
All that is fine, but as many times as I ask them, they refuse to stop calling me without notice. I have asked them to use other methods of communication. I have said they can call me as long as we set up a time first so I’m at least expecting it. That way, I can be sure I am not deeply immersed in something when it comes time for the call, and I can meditate for a little while first so I don’t feel jumpy while we talk. But none of my pleas have gotten through.
So, I get random calls at different times of the day from family members who “just wanted to chat.” And when I don’t answer, they get testy.
Because I also have a busy life, there are many times when I can’t answer. I work a full-time job, then go home to work on my side hustle. This is the reason I ask for scheduled phone calls, but my family doesn’t believe in that. They believe that I should drop everything and answer, no matter what.
Some part of me feels like I should do that, because I don’t want to be a jerk to my loved ones. On the other hand, though, I wish they would give just a little and let me take scheduled phone calls. I don’t think it’s too much to ask.
It seems silly to fight over something as inconsequential as the phone, but it causes me a lot of distress. I am torn between being my telephone-hating self and changing myself just a little to please my family. I’m never sure what the right thing to do is, and I tend to go back and forth on how I respond.
It’s Not Selfish to Love Yourself
I doubt that I will figure out my phone problem anytime soon. I think introverts often find themselves in situations like these. We are torn between accommodating others and doing what feels more comfortable and authentic to us. Often, there’s not an easy answer.
If you find yourself constantly giving in to someone else’s preferences — whether it’s talking on the phone or something else — remember that it’s not selfish to love yourself. Your needs as an introvert are valid, too. Keep speaking up, even if it takes a long time for your family, friends, or coworkers to understand.
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