The Challenge of the Introverted Parent by Missy

I am an introvert. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’m shy or antisocial. It means, in the Myers-Briggs sense of things, I get my energy from internal sources. I need quiet time to calm down, reflect, and reenergize, and that I prefer being in small groups with people I know well. Big groups of people, lots of commotion, and people I’m not particularly comfortable with all exhaust me. Even just the thoughts of those things exhaust me!

Kids exhaust me. Even my own.

I am in no way an expert on this topic; however, just from being a parent and observing my own and other peoples’ kids, I’ve gathered that most children are extroverted. They love being in constant motion. They love meeting new people and instantly interacting with them. They love being loud. And they hate quiet downtime. So what does that mean for me, as an introverted parent?

It means I’m regularly overwhelmed. It means I need to know my limits and know how to steer my children to a quiet place when I’m nearing my breaking point, even if it’s met with their opposition. It means I have to let my kids down from time to time. I have to say “no, sweetie, we can’t go to every playdate.” I don’t want to disappoint my kids, but I get overwhelmed around other moms I don’t know well. It’s not that I don’t like those moms or their kids, it’s not even that I don’t want to get to know them, it’s simply that I don’t know what to say beyond the initial pleasantries. And that’s stressful for me.

Being an introvert is extremely tough when you have a very extroverted child. She always wants to be doing something. She always wants to be around somebody. And how do you explain to a child that you need to sit in a quiet place and be by yourself? That will always feel like rejection. As my extroverted daughter had gotten older, I have been able to explain it to her. Sort of. And I know someday she will understand. She won’t be scarred for life because mommy needed to read her book by herself on a quiet Sunday afternoon.

For now, though, I have to balance my need for introversion and my kids’ need for extroversion. I need to challenge myself to not be stressed out by people I don’t know, so that my kids can make new friends. I also need to teach my kids the importance of downtime and that not everyone wants to be loud and active all the time.

To the extroverted parents out there, I apologize for not coming to every party and playdate. Again, it’s not that I don’t like you. Give me time.

 

 

How Not To Make Friends As An Adult by Nicole

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I think we all agree that most aspects of adulting is hard. One aspect that I’ve worked on for a long time is making friends. See, I work from home and have for going on 5 years now. I’ve also moved to a different state twice and to four different houses in that time. And all in that time frame I was on a mission to find some freakin’ friends. It’s insanely hard to meet people in these circumstances.

The thing about making friends as an adult is that it’s almost impossible not to come off as like a creepy stalker person that is trying to steal someone’s identity or car or something. When we were kids it was like “oh hey, we both like pink! Let’s be best friends!” Could you imagine if you walked up to another adult and said, “hey! We both have red shirts on, we should hang out some time!” Uh, no. Or think about this – how do we teach our kids to make friends? I know I’ve personally told my own kid to say “Hi, I’m (enter kids name here), what’s your name?” Again, that doesn’t work as an adult without causing confusion or alarm.

Because I didn’t have an office to go to every day that had real, live, in-person humans to interact with, I really tried to go the extra mile on the occasions I did get out of the house. Because of that, I’m sharing with you three ways you should not attempt to make friends with someone – from personal experience.

  1. A woman in the parking lot of the pediatrician’s office. Just because a random woman has a baby the same age as yours and they made eye contact and smiled doesn’t make this a qualifying scenario to attempt friendship. I remember it perfectly, “Well I’m always looking for friends with kids, can I have your phone number, so we can get together?!” Then after no response, I thought it through and yeah, I guess it was pretty weird of me – especially when my former husband said “you did what…”
  2. The waitress at a restaurant. Yeah, I know. I hate to even put this one, but it’s real. It’s only partially my fault because my former husband knew I was trying hard to find friends, telling the waitress she and I should hang out sometime, asking for her name on facebook. *face palm* nothing more on that one.
  3. The girl that calls you to say your package was delivered at her house accidentally. So, before you start judging, this one is different. She was the one that wanted to befriend me, but because I was so desperate for friends I didn’t think that was a strange way to befriend someone. I wasn’t alarmed at all that she felt like we had something in common because she opened my package up and it was something she had also bought once… At this point my husband at the time was becoming worried for my safety so I had to figure something else out.

After all the weird attempts, trying way to hard to find friends, I changed my perspective. I decided instead to get out of the house and just do something I like to do even if I knew no one there. This has been wildly successful for me and I’ll tell you why – because the people around me when I’m doing what I like, also like that too.

Throughout the past three years, I have made some of the greatest friends all by happenstance – one at the park with my daughter, one in a boxing class, and then came the friends of friends I got close with. I started up a craft club because I wanted to have people over that like to spend time crafting and drinking wine. Guess what? I gained one of the greatest friends ever. We like crafting and wine and complaining about doing mom things and whatever else we do. And we are uncool, in our 30s and it couldn’t be better. I hope they don’t read this and see that I said we are uncool.

The point of this is that no matter what your age, get out of your comfort zone, find things you enjoy doing and you’ll be surrounded by people who enjoy the very same things. And also, the point is to avoid being the well-intentioned yet super creepy and stalkerish person approaching other people.