I have just got back after a really busy day. But it wasn’t busy in the usual sense. For any that don’t know, I run a business – a small web design and marketing agency. So most working days are busy – whether I’m doing design, or coding, or supporting my staff, I expend a lot of my ‘spoons‘ just as a normal state of affairs.
The Black Sheep?
In a society that favours the outgoing, confident people and in a business which attracts those that, at least appear, super-extroverted, being an introvert can feel like you’re the ‘black sheep’ in the world. I struggle at Networking Events, conferences and exhibitions because the expectation is you need to be outgoing and approachable. Approachable I can do, outgoing is somewhat of a challenge.
So what made today so different from a normal busy day? Most Tuesdays we make a point of meeting with the whole team – which in a small business really matters. Apart from a change in plan (which aren’t great for my Fibro-addled brain anyway) today was unusual in that I had an additional meeting this morning.
Introversion: A People Problem
One of my friends defined the difference between extroversion and introversion like this:
Extroverts gain energy by spending time with other people. Introverts gain energy by time alone.
And that’s definitely my experience. This morning’s meeting was with a person I hadn’t met before – which takes a shedload more concentration, effort and spooons than speaking with someon I know. Most initial meetings like this last an hour or so, which I can usually quickly counteract. But this meeting went on for pretty much three hours.
I was already getting low on energy after 2 hours and I always feel self-conscious taking medication in a meeting with a new person and my neck and head were hurting. Admittedly the meeting went well all things considered. But I had lost all my energy in my interactions with this new person.
I then went into our weekly team meeting (6 of us in today) where I interacted with everyone. I had about 1/2hr between my morning meeting and this one. We finished about 4.30pm, meaning I had been interacting with people for over 5hrs today! If I was a socialite, or an extrovert, then that would be an ideal day, but in pain and being more inward-looking made this a real challenge.
I love dealing with people, but being an introvert and a Spoonie is a harsh combination because it just leaves me feeling drained.
Managing Introversion and Fibromyalgia
Fibro can be quite isolating at the best of times, and I have met so many people on Twitter who can’t hold down a job and in that respect I am blessed. But meeting, or interacting with, loads of people is overly tiring. So how can you manage your Fibromyalgia if you’re also an introvert?
- Plan People Time Ahead: This is hard, because life is unpredictable, but if you can plan for one ‘social’ situation per day, maximum. Today was unusual because usually I will only have one meeting planned per day.
- Celebrate Survival: I have to ‘pat myself on the back’ today. I survived. Yes, my pain is really high and my energy is really low, but I did manage all those interactions.
- Plan for Adequate Rest Time: I had thought I could work on a personal project tonight, but no, I have to rest. Good quality sofa time and hopefully a bit of quiet time too. To ‘gain energy’ for tomorrow I need to stop trying to be productive.
- Remember – Introversion is not a criticism of your character: Not long ago I referred to myself as an introvert to one of my friends and she told me ‘not to put myself down’. Being an introvert is not an indictment on your character – it is part who you are and that is fine. Be peaceful being who you are.
I hope this resonates with someone here – feel free to share your experiences in the comments. Let me know what you think – and if you have survival tips, let me know!