I’m back at school. I made it through the summer, I successfully drove for five hours without killing myself and I arrived at my university safe and unharmed. I’ve spent the past week with my friends, and it’s been fun. After all, I spent the whole summer looking forward to seeing them again. It’s only natural that I freak out every time I see another one of my friends moving onto campus for another school year.
I spent the entire summer by myself, though. This has caused an unpleasant side effect for my introverted brain: I’ve been exhausted all week. The sudden social interaction has taken its toll on my mental state, and I feel like sleeping all day, every day.
Related: I Am So Much More Than An Introvert
My friends want to hang out with me, but I’ve already reached the point where I sometimes have to turn down invitations to hang out because I’m simply too tired to do so. I need to sit in my room by myself for a while with a good book or a Pokémon game.
I suppose that I shall now emphasize what so many other introverts before me have: I’m not ditching my friends because I hate you. Nor am I tired of your company, even if it does kind of sound like that.
I came up with an analogy last year to describe how being an introvert feels to me. Any time I leave my dorm, it’s like I flip on a light switch in my head. That switch isn’t for a light, though; it’s a social switch. Flipping that switch means I’m in the mindset of interacting with people in a normal, mostly friendly way.
Flipping the switch has a cost, though. Just as a light drains energy in the form of electricity, so, too, does my switch drain me of mental energy. If I have to do something that involves performing of some sort (tour guiding, acting, concerts, etc.), then I have to flip an extra switch, and my energy drains twice as quickly. That’s when I get really exhausted.
The point is, my energy isn’t going to last forever. At some point, I’m going to have to go back to my room, flip off my metaphorical switches and recharge. I want to hang out with my friends, but I may not be mentally up to the task at the moment.
The fact that I spent a whole summer apart from socialization also means that I’m running low on energy, so that exhaustion is setting in much more quickly than usual. Caffeine hasn’t been much help, either, since it causes me to crash shortly after consuming it. And when I crash, I’m not exactly the life of the party.
What’s my point? I guess the point is to not get exasperated with introverts if they need their alone time. Let them have it. We appreciate you greatly, and we’ll hang out with you as much as we can. Just let us have our time. It’ll benefit all of us. I promise.