The following story was submitted by my best friend, Becky, in hopes that others will read this and relate. I am so proud to share her words with you below!
Oh, guilt. Hello old friend. Us introverts are really good at the G-word. I’m certainly not the first person to feel introvert related guilt, but it does seem it’s a lesser talked about subject, even in the introvert world. Probably because it we don’t want to talk about it and have one more thing to overanalyze and question to death, as we do with most things we vocalize. Embarrassment, confusion, lots of frustration and anger at oneself, all lead up to massive guilt roadblocks as I like to call them.
I have been struggling a lot with this aspect of introversion quite a lot lately. Granted, this post is also about anxiety, but from my experience, introverts seem a bit more prone to anxiety. Especially anxiety related to doing things that make us introverts nervous, at best, on a good day, like leaving the house. Maybe you have social anxiety, maybe you love the security of being home and cozy. For me, I worry about my pets. I have intense social anxiety as well, but most days I can get through uncomfortable work lunches and mindless chit chat (cue desk headphone music retreat!)
The thought process of an anxious introvert looks absolutely nuts all laid out in black and white. Exhibit A, my most recent example:
My kind and generous mom asked if I would like to accompany her to Hawaii. Hawaii!! Instead of jumping at the chance like a “normal” person, I turned her down. Because of money? Nope, mom would be paying. Can’t get time off work? Negative on that one too, I have more than enough vacation hours and a nice boss. What’s the problem then?! Well, I have anxiety anytime I leave home more than just work or errands.
Even as I type it out I think to myself, “Really? Who does that?!” But I know from experience how difficult it is to travel, it can be essentially non-stop worry. Not to mention all the new people and places to navigate. I have traveled with my mom before, and although everything was fine, and I had a wonderful pet sitter, does my brain learn that I can take vacations and it will be ok? Nope. The same worries are still there. For people that don’t understand an anxiety thought spiral let me break it down for you, here’s a little sample of what might be whirling around in my head:
Are they ok? What if they’re lonely? Is their water clean? What if they run out of food? What if there’s a fire and I’m not there!?
Obviously with all of this going on in your head, it makes very hard to enjoy the sound of crashing waves and boozy drinks, no matter how much I want to.
Which brings us back to guilt. Guilt if you say “yes” and guilt if you say “no.” Sort of impossible to win. This applies to more than just travel obviously.
Don’t really want to go to that party but you said yes just to appease your family/significant other? You then spend the whole time wishing you were home and feeling guilty that you’re probably ruining things for your date, and Susie spent so much time on those dang princess cupcakes so you should just “suck it up.”
I’m still learning how to manage the anxiety and introvert tendencies. Meditation (I use “guided” ones like those in the Buddhify and Relax Melodies apps), baking/cooking, kitty cuddles and airing grievances to friends all help immensely. I think the trick is getting a few moments peace and gaining just a bit of control over your thoughts, not engaging in a losing battle to obliterate them completely. Staying home is totally ok most of the time, but missing out on vacations is not fun. There has to be balance, which takes practice. The whole point of this post is not to give you one more thing to question, or feel anxious or guilty about, but to let you know that it is normal, I promise. So hopefully by reading/seeing a situation similar to yours or viewing as an outsider, it will help just that little bit.