The Irrational Mind

Introverts, Empathy, and Recharging

Although most people consider me a fairly social creature, I’m an introvert at heart: an empath or Indigo child, without the supernatural connotations and pseudoscience. I absorb other people’s emotions, and it is exhausting for me to spend too much time around others and their “energies.” I recharge with my cats and my even more introverted husband.introvert

Despite not falling on the autism spectrum, I’m prone to sensory overload. I stay up after Matt goes to bed so I have some time to meditate and relax without the TV on. When I started writing this post, I had to turn off my music, which I rarely listen to in the first place.

My family is loud and active, and everyone (myself included) is prone to emotional outbursts. We seem to feed off each other’s energy. When we visit the extended family, things get even louder, and activity lasts until the early morning hours. It’s difficult to escape in the overcrowded house, and I end up looking like a recluse, sitting in the corner, taking it all in.

“What’s wrong?”

What’s wrong. The bane of an introvert’s existence.

I used to reply with “nothing,” but that never satisfies anyone. Truthfully, I’m noticing that my cousin’s husband is feeling uncomfortable from the current conversation, one of my cousins is still upset by an offhand comment made by someone else half an hour ago, and yet another cousin is feeling overwhelmed by work/family drama. My aunt is frustrated with my uncle, my dad is mad at someone else, my brother can’t get anyone’s attention, and someone’s significant other is feeling out of place.

“There’s just too much going on right now,” I reply to the concerned party.

The family member looks around, slightly confused, not noticing all the things I am. I’ll try to point out one of the things someone is upset about. “Oh, really? You think so? I didn’t notice.”

No one else seems to notice. I’m taking it all in. I can’t help it. I can’t ignore it. It’s just my nature.

A book on my reading list is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

It highlights the contributions of introverts to a society that highly values extroverts. From a young age, we are encouraged to be social creatures, which is important! Humans are social creatures. But the constant encouragement to “get out there” can make us feel out of place when we would prefer to stay home over going out on the weekend.

It’s ok to recharge. Really.

And to the extrovert readers: you’re ok as you are too. Extroverts recharge by surrounding themselves with people. The feeling that an extrovert gets from being out with a large group is the same one an introvert gets upon sitting alone in a coffee shop, reading a book.

We should value everyone’s contributions to society, introverts, extroverts, and everyone in between.

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