“Chrismas makes you feel emotional,
It may bring parties or thoughts devotional
Whatever happens, whatever may be
Here is what Christmas time means to me…..”
It’s true – Christmas does make me feel emotional. Sometimes in a good way and sometimes in a not-so-good way. I was reading an article on mercurynews.com earlier today that included a quote by author Sophia Dembling. The quote about Christmas read, “it’s the most extroverted time of the year.” I can really relate to that….particularly being an introvert myself. The article went on to quote Dembling as saying, “I don’t want to check out of it entirely, but it can just completely overwhelm you, and then you get crabby.”
How absolutely appropriate to a conversation Jeff and I had last night when returned home from Christmas dinner with my mom and dad; my sister, her husband, their two daughters and my oldest niece’s boyfriend; and Jeff’s mom and dad. We had a nice time; but when we got home Jeff asked me, “What’s wrong?”
In truth, I didn’t think anything was wrong and I didn’t even realize that I was acting as if something was. But in reading this morning about the effects of the holidays on introverts, I realized it’s an extrovert’s world and they don’t understand those of us who are not!
According to some studies, Introverts make up only about 10% of the population – so it’s not surprising that they’re often misunderstood or simply not understood, especially by extroverts. Other studies say introverts make up 1/3 of the population; but regardless of how many there are, the truth is we’re often misunderstood. Extroverts find social interaction energizing – they get more energy from being around others. Introverts – although they often enjoy socializing – are typically drained of energy after social interactions. That’s not to say that we introverts want to avoid social interaction at all costs, but it does have a different effect on us! People often say to me, “you can’t be an introvert, you are too outgoing.” But being an introvert doesn’t have to do with whether you like people or can interact with them or are shy, it has to do with the effect on your energy. Introverts get their energy from being alone – from thinking, pondering, etc.
So when the holidays roll around introverts are often completely overwhelmed by the end of December. I know I look forward to the holidays – all the preparation and the traditions; but after all the parties and family gatherings (which I enjoy in moderation), I am spent. And if I don’t pace myself, I can be cranky without even meaning to be or knowing I am.
So extroverts, here are some things you may need to know about introverts:
- They are different from you – they are not wrong or bad or mean or Scrooge, they are simply different.
- They may need mini escapes from the festivities.
- They often like having tasks to keep them busy – like serving drinks, hanging up coats, clearing the table, preparing food, taking pictures, spinning tunes, etc.
- They may leave the party early – not because they didn’t have a good time or don’t want to be around you, but because they need a stimulation break.
- They may sit quietly in a corner or interact with only a few people.
This got me to thinking about whether being an introvert is why I like to entertain….because there are lots of tasks to keep me busy throughout the evening. So I read on…..and I found in my VERY INFORMAL research that it’s a coin toss as to whether introverts prefer being a guest or a host(ess). Some find the responsibilities associated with entertaining and greeting guests too overwhelming and prefer to be a guest and hide in the shadows. Others, like me, appreciate the diversion of things to do. I can think when I am performing tasks and this helps me quiet my mind.
I appreciate that Jeff is an extrovert. I admire his ability to get along with almost anyone and love watching his enthusiasm in interacting with other people. His face lights up, his hands begin to move and he generally becomes much more animated. I am in awe that he can converse with a complete stranger for hours. And I am grateful that God matched me with an extrovert – even if it is further proof of God’s sense of humor!
My reading about introversion also lead me to an interesting, thought-provoking talk by Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Click here to view the talk in its entirety.
It’s interesting that the holidays bring up so many different emotions for people. Some happy, some sad, some in between and some of both for some people! Strangely though, the popular Christmas songs are mostly about spending time with people or being sad because you’re alone. I must admit that I can’t think of any Christmas carols for introverts that aren’t completely depressing. Perhaps I need to write my own – a song about the joy of leaving the party early, putting on your pj’s, reading a book and snuggling up with your dog!!!!! Merry Christmas from a Whoop-De-Do-In-Moderation!!!!