A few months ago it dawned on me that I am not the extrovert I had always imagined myself to be, but rather one of the minority (quarter) of the population who are introverts. Shortly after this long-awaited epiphany, I came across a wonderful book, The Introvert Advantage: How To Thrive In An Extrovert World by Marti Olsen Laney. As I read it I was able to let go of years of making myself wrong for doing things that I now realise are just down to how my brain is wired: for example, I’m not anti-social for wanting loved visitors to leave after a few hours (I just find socialising more taxing than extroverts, and need time alone to recharge); I’m not lazy for wanting to sit down while talking (this also comes down to the energy being with other people requires); and I’m not a wuss for not being able to go out two nights in a row. I just have a non-average brain which runs on a different set of neurotransmitters from extroverts. (This also explains why, although I exercise regularly, I’ve never managed to get addicted to exercise in the way extroverted friends seem to be able to (introvert brains don’t get nearly the same neuro-chemical buzz from it as extroverts).)
Laney’s book explains that introverts are more sensitive to our surroundings and to anything that’s unpleasant or discomforting than extroverts are, which can be compounded by the fact that because we are metabolizing our food at a higher rate than extroverts, our blood sugar can easily plummet. She suggests introverts keep to hand a survival kit, containing items such as:
1 Earplugs to block street noise.
2 Snacks to boost blood sugar when you feel it plummet.
4 Personal music player with soothing music.
5 A note card with an affirmation card like “Today I will relax and enjoy what comes.”
6 A soothing scent on a cotton ball to sniff if unpleasant odours bother you.
7 Medication for motion sickness.
8 An umbrella or parasol, if the sun bothers you.
9 Sunscreen, handcream and lip balm. (Many introverts have sensitive skin.)
10 A battery fan or small spray bottle.
11 Hats with big brims and sunglasses.
12 A sweater or blanket.
13 Pocket handwarmers.
14 Earmuffs or a headband, if the wind hurts your ears.
When I showed the list to my husband he laughed out loud and said “that’s your handbag!” It’s nice to be understood.