A little over a year ago, I moved away from my family for my husband’s job. Although it’s hard living so far away from the people I love, I genuinely enjoy being in my little bubble in sunny Florida. I spend the majority of my time alone with my two dogs because my husband works a lot.
As much as I love spending time with him, I’m totally fine with being alone, too. As an introvert, I require an abundance of alone time. I enjoy sitting by myself in my quiet house and not feeling obligated to talk to anyone. That might sound rude to some, but I know my fellow introverts totally get it.
Every few months, I go home to visit my family. My mom is in the late stages of Alzheimer’s, so I want to see her as often as possible. My dad is her full-time caregiver, and I have a sister who lives nearby. My sister is married with two young daughters, ages three and one. I always stay at my sister’s house, and let’s just say, it’s about as opposite of my house as it can get. It’s loud, chaotic, and there are always people around.
I spend the week trying to balance other people’s needs and making sure I spend enough time with everyone. After all the running around and socializing, I’m exhausted. I come back to my bubble and don’t feel like doing anything for at least a few days.
I used to wonder what was wrong with me. Why was I so exhausted after these trips? Everyone else seemed to be having fun, but I simply grew more depleted — even though I enjoyed spending time with them.
Then I came across an article about the introvert hangover. I’d never heard of it, but the more I read, the more it made sense. Suddenly, it just clicked.
Social exhaustion is a real, legitimate thing for some of us.
It’s Okay to Need Alone Time
I wish more people understood that introverts are not unsociable. We just need more alone time than others, especially after not having any for a long period of time. If you feel exhausted after too much “people-ing,” don’t worry. You’re not alone. You’re actually part of a super cool club of people who have never met (because we hate leaving our houses!).
Introverts simply prefer a low-key lifestyle. Maybe you don’t like being busy or spending lots of time with other people. Personally, I don’t like having to talk to someone from the minute I wake up until the minute I go to bed. I don’t like being constantly surrounded by people; I prefer silence and solitude. And although I can be a Chatty Cathy when I’m with the right friends, I tend to get in quiet moods for no reason, and I just don’t have anything to say.
Feeling the need to talk constantly is exhausting. Can you relate? If so, it’s totally normal to feel this way.
I used to wish I was the kind of person who liked having plans all the time. Some people like to be busy all the time. They like to go, go, go because they don’t want or need much time alone with their own thoughts.
But introverts are the exact opposite. We crave — and require — a lot of time with our thoughts. We need time to decompress and process things. We don’t like running here, there, and everywhere and trying to visit multiple people in multiple places in one day, because then we don’t get downtime.
We don’t like jumping from one activity into the next or one conversation into the next because we need time to fully absorb the moment and the experience, to process and analyze what was said and done. What did she say? How do I feel about it? Why do I feel that way? Did I make the most out of this experience?
Needing time to process your experiences doesn’t mean you’re crazy or there’s something wrong with you. It means you’re an introvert.
Some Batteries Take Longer to Charge Than Others
After a long period of having no alone time, and therefore, no time to process or think, the introvert’s mind goes into overdrive. Your thoughts and emotions are all over the place because you haven’t had the time to unpack it all.
It’s okay. You simply need time to sit in silence and just be. Nowhere to go. Nothing to do. No one to talk to. If you don’t allow yourself this time, you’ll likely feel overwhelmed, anxious, and overly emotional. You may even feel physically unwell, a.k.a., an introvert hangover (see the signs that you’re suffering from one here). You’re not just exhausted mentally, physically, or emotionally. You’re exhausted socially, too. It’s definitely a thing. There is such a thing as too much interaction with other people.
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As much as we introverts would love to curl up in our homes with a good book most nights, sometimes we don’t have a choice. Sometimes we have to go out and socialize. Personally, even though the trips exhaust me, I’m glad I have these precious, remaining days with my mom.
Helping the people you love to understand your introversion will help them help you. So if you haven’t yet, take the time to explain who you are and what you need as an introvert. Then they’ll know when an activity or conversation is simply out of the question. They’ll be able to identify when you’ve reached your “peopling” limits, and hopefully, they’ll leave you alone. And in a perfect world, everyone would know to text you instead of calling with no warning.
You can explain to your friends, family, and significant other that it’s not them — it’s you (as the saying goes). You simply require more alone time than they do. Explain to them that your intention isn’t to be rude or unsociable. You’re resting up and recharging your social battery.
Some batteries take longer to charge than others. There’s nothing wrong with that. Explain to them that you need this time so that you can be the best version of yourself when you do spend time with them. You value your time with them so much that you don’t want to waste it when you’re not feeling your best.
The people who truly love you will understand and respect your needs. And those are the only people who matter.