My friend shared a post on Facebook about people with anxiety and one of the things the author talked about was having a “people hangover” and I couldn’t stop nodding. A people hangover is when you have used up all of your energy being with other people and so you feel drained, tired, and desperate for some time alone. I think this applies to introverts just as much as people suffering from anxiety. I know it applies to me.
We spent 10 days driving to California, visiting family, and driving back. I didn’t get much solitude. The hotel rooms were small and with three people we were pretty much on top of each other. Hiding in the bathroom was not an option, although I made some attempts. Then we were non-stop visiting people (people we love dearly) and don’t even get me started on the driving. Three people in the car for three days straight (both ways) is a lot of togetherness. By the middle of the trip I was drained and by the end just plain exhausted.
I need solitude and alone time and quiet and space. That is hard for other people to understand or to not be insulted by. When you sneak off to be by yourself people take it personally sometimes. They just don’t understand the need for solitude. Art often gives me a way to be alone in a socially acceptable manner. I can say, “I have to work now.” People understand that better than, “I really just need to be alone to replace my energy.”
I recently found myself trying to explain why I didn’t enjoy crowds. It was obvious I wasn’t doing a good job explaining myself. How do you explain something so fundamental about the person you are? I don’t have an explanation for not liking crowds other than that is just how I am wired. I know it is hard for people who get their energy from being around other people to relate to introverts because the concept seems so foreign to them. Crowds pump them up, but crowds make us so tired. So tired. People make me so tired. Without time to recuperate in between social engagements I actually start to feel physically sick like I am coming down with a cold. I get a little grumpy too, similar to having low blood sugar. In short, I have a people hangover. The only remedy is to find some way to get a few hours (or even minutes) alone. Sometimes I do hide in the bathroom or invent a reason to take something to the car…or disappear to admire flowers in the backyard just to get some space.
I never thought about it before, but art-making is an excellent excuse to duck into a room and close the door. It’s a good cover for my introversion. Plus I love to paint so there is that too. I’m really grateful I have found ways to compensate for my introverted personality that doesn’t draw attention to it or make anyone uncomfortable, but I also wish people understood better, or, at the very least, accepted people like me just the way we are. It’s not personal. We just need to recharge our batteries without any company.