Daily Introvert Struggles

So I’ve already discussed a few struggles introverts and INFPs have, but I thought about going more in depth. In a way, I’m hoping to be more “sincere” than a typical, clickbaity “10 STRUGGLES ALL INTROVERTS HAVE” (I’m already failing I’m sure). I also added the word, “Daily”, in another effort to be more sincere (hopefully). Introverts don’t struggle with going or not going to parties everyday. I highly doubt any introvert goes to more than one party a week. Hopefully not more than once a month.

So, these are a few things I as an introvert and perhaps also as an INFP struggle with daily:

Overthinking

Lately, I have been able to “suppress” a few reoccurring subconscious thoughts of mine. However, it still happens. I overthink everything. A single interaction with a stranger or a friend can cause a multitude of thoughts to spiral in my head, varying from “What did they mean by what they said?”, “They don’t like me, do they?”, “I’m annoying them, why do they still talk to me?”, “I’m not doing this right.”, and many, many others.

Sometimes an interaction can cause several “daydreams” to take place, in which I suddenly find myself imagining different possibilities streaming from one moment in which everything goes wrong.

This tends to happen a lot, at least when I’m not at home and in places I’m slightly less familiar with. I assume that when I am in slightly unfamiliar places, my mind is trying to process everything until it goes off on a tangent, thus sparking a series of conversations in my head, debating my true competence as a human being (unfortunately it’s true, my mind can be very harmful to my self-esteem, but I’m sure most everyone struggles with such thoughts as well), or causing me to imagine the wildest outcome of one, more than normal, moment.

I also tend to overthink after certain encounters with friends and after stressful events like giving a speech.

I worry that I might have said something wrong and caused my friend to hate me forever, or that people thought my speech was stupid. If my friends take a while to answer a text or email, I worry that something terribly bad happened to them or that I said something wrong and my friends will abandon me and I will have no friends forever.

Basically I worry. I worry that I’m not good enough for other people, like my friends or family. I worry that I’m not that competent of a person. I worry that everyone is judging me.

Which brings me to my next daily struggle:

Egocentrism & the Audience

I struggle with a “paradoxical” form of egocentrism.

Egocentrism, more mentally proficient in toddlers, is a form of thinking that limits your understanding of other people’s minds, emotions, opinions, etc.

Here’s a good example of a common mistake toddlers and young children make, as they possess egocentrism:

Susan, 4 years old, watches Tommy take the cookies out of the cookie jar and sees that Tommy places them under the rug. If Susan’s mother comes into the room after this happening, Susan will say that Susan’s mother will say that the cookies are under the rug, not in the cookie jar, even though Susan’s mother never saw this switching take place.

Adolescents struggle with a different form of egocentrism. Adolescents possess a theory of mind (the understanding that other people see the world vastly different than you do), but they fear judgment from other people and peers. Even though they realize they might be wrong about this, they can’t help but feel like everyone is watching them and judging them. Friendships and relationships can be very fulfilling to their self-esteem (these people like me and want to spend time with me), but adolescents worry that how they act or how they look will cause them to be judged by other people.

Of course, introverts, especially those with the Feeling temperament (INFPs, INFJs, etc.), do not struggle with egocentrism. We possess a very complicated and advanced theory of mind. INFPs, for instance, can easily understand other people’s opinions and emotions via projecting emotions onto other people. INFJs also absorb other people’s emotions.

However, I struggle with a form of egocentrism that adolescents struggle with. I mean, it’s easy to get stuck in your head and feel that the world is “centered” on you, in the sense that you’re the main character on stage and everyone else is just your audience. We’re all stuck in our heads. It’s easy to think that our struggles are unique and that our desires are different from everyone else’s.

While I’m not bratty or want to be “spoiled” because I feel that everything is about me, me, me, and no one else matters, I do get stuck in my head and feel that everyone is watching me. I’ve gotten better at realizing that “hey, I don’t judge everyone else. I could care less about other people look or act. Thus, why should I feel that everyone else is different and that they judge me?” but there are days I feel like, “Oh they can see everything that is wrong with me. They notice that my hair is on the fritz or I’m too quiet or that I’m nervous.”

While I’m good at understanding other people’s emotions, I can’t seem to convince myself that no one really cares or notices me. Yet, I want people to notice me and like me, though I don’t want people to notice me at all because I don’t know if they will like.

Perhaps with age and maturity I’ll lose this perspective of life I struggle with, but I have a feeling that most introverts feel the same way at times. We all understand that no one really cares or notices us (in a good, not having to worry about everyone judging us way), but we all struggle to convince ourselves that.

Late-Night Thoughts

Now, I know that all introverts struggle with this.

Most of the day I either still feel a little tired from getting up early for class or my mind is tired and I’m ready to go. Around 1-5 pm (late-ish for this sort of thing as opposed to earlier like at 8 am), my body hits an energetic level and I can throw myself at whatever tasks I need to do with an extreme focus.

At 11 pm, depending on my mental state, I’m either exhausted both mentally and physically or just physically.

If my body is tired but my mind is awake, it’ll be awhile before I go to sleep.

My mind suddenly becomes that annoying neighbor who won’t stop jamming to music or that roommate that is still up. I can’t stop thinking. My mind won’t stop carrying out those mental conversations. I want to sleep yet I have trouble at calming my mind.

It also doesn’t help if I have big things going on the next day that might cause me worry and stress, like a big test,, speech, or an interaction I’m dreading. Then my mind begins to think of all the possible outcomes of such an event and tries to tell me of all the things I should do so that it won’t go wrong. If I don’t go to sleep though, it’ll all go wrong because I’m too tired to go about the big task.

Eventually my mind quiets down, but it can be impossible to go to sleep because I just can’t stop thinking. It’s annoying.

Worried Rehearsal 

I still struggle with this same need to rehearse every interaction during the day, not just at night.

Whether I know I might have to speak up for a few seconds in class, will need to order food at a new restaurant, or talk to someone on the phone, my mind won’t stop thinking or prepping me for the interaction (especially the phone conversation).

Worried and nervous, I’ll go over the words I’ll say to the class over and over again. I’ll tell myself, “Okay, number 2 with a Coke”, or “Hello, how are you…”, or “I’d like Italian Bread with…”.

There are days though where no matter how many times I rehearse it in my head, I’ll still end stumbling over my words, and even though it’s a simple matter of not being able to talk, I’ll be embarrassed. My mind will convince myself that it was because I didn’t rehearse enough, thus reinforcing me to rehearse interactions in my head much later.

Then there are interactions that aren’t rehearsed due to worry but because of excitement. If I’m about to go have a conversation with a good friend, I’ll begin an imaginary conversation with my “imaginary” friend, rehearsing what I want to talk about to them. Usually, however, such imaginary conversations go sour with either my friend getting very upset with me or me getting mad at them, or just something going terribly wrong between us. The chances of which are extremely unlikely, yet my mind feels the need to cause emotional trauma in my imaginary conversations. (Yet sometimes I’ll be still slightly upset when I’m around a family member or friend just because they said something disturbing in the imaginary conversation I had with “them” earlier. Again, it’s annoying.)

Clumsiness

 I don’t know if all introverts struggle with this, but I’m sure INFPs do. And to emphasis this, this is a daily struggle.

I’m always running into stuff and stubbing my toes (I’ve probably had a dozen broken toes, so yes, I’ve broken some toes more than once).

I’m also very conscious of my clumsiness, thus I’ll put my coffee mug or tea slightly far out of reach so that it won’t spill on my laptop.

Because I worry about everything, I imagine the worst possible situations, like spilling tea on my laptop and losing all of my important papers and work.

I often run into the corners of walls and manage to hit my head on many things (doesn’t help that I’m tall).

Since I’m always in my head thinking about something, I tend to forget the current state and position of the rest of my body, thus I run into everything and am very clumsy.

Again, frustrating and annoying.

Self-Checkouts

Any chance I have of not interacting with people I will take. Self-checkouts are amazing. Ordering food is also stressful enough, which is why I also rehearse my order over and over again.

I also usually let my phone go to voicemail, even if I can answer it (most of the time I’m about ready to go to class; take that Unknown Caller! It’s too bad I can’t talk right now.). And yes, if there is no ID on the phone, the chances of me picking up are very unlikely.

 

So, those were a few of the struggles introverts have to deal with everyday. Post in the comments if you struggle with any of these or can think of a few more.

 

Advertisements

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Phil Bostian says:

    Samuel, I appreciate the thoughts you have shared in several of your posts. I relate very well to much of what you have said, because I am an introvert by nature, and have been my entire life. Some people who know me find this hard to believe. I don’t know if it’s due to my career or whatever. All I can say is that by the grace of God I have learned to accept it (mostly) and cope with it (usually).

    When I was younger, I always thought and hoped I would outgrow it. “By the time I’m 30, surely I will be more confident and won’t stress over these small interactions any more”, I thought when I was in my teens and 20’s. Didn’t happen. I’ve come to the conclusion that I will most likely never “outgrow” it, per se.

    I suppose I could download all kinds of platitudes and cliches on you that you’ve probably heard a hundred times over by now. I’d like to say just a couple of things to you:

    1.) God has gifted you with an incredible sensitivity to the feelings of other people. Recognize that this is really quite rare. It may seem freakish to you, but it’s not. You can use this to help other people throughout your life. Embrace it, even as you learn to create more balance in your life.

    2.) It’s just fine to be an introvert. It is NOT a “defect”, no matter how much it may seem that way. It is—as I said earlier—a gift from Almighty God. It is hard to find people who truly understand it, and if they do, most likely they are also introverted. Most other people don’t really have a clue.

    I have spent much of my life trying to “fix” my introversion, without a great deal of success. However, by God’s grace, I have learned to cope with it fairly well….. usually. Most of the time, when I’m confronted with situations that seem awkward or dreadful, I feel like a cliff-diver who’s about to jump off the cliff into water a hundred feet below. I’ve learned to just take the plunge (most of the time), and see where it goes. But the dreadful feeling of jumping off that cliff is still there. One big difference for me now, as opposed to when I was younger, is that more often than not, I will make the jump. Earlier in life, I’d climb up to the top of that cliff, look down at the water, and slink back down, condemning myself all the way for my cowardice.

    Thank you for expressing your thoughts and insights in this blog. You are truly a wonderful young man, and God has great plans for your life. And yes, He has calculated your introversion into the equation!

    Like

    1. It’s good to hear from you again. Thank you for everything you said! It always helps to hear that others struggle with the same things that I often do. And yes, it isn’t a defect to be an introvert, even in a world that often tailors to people who don’t have trouble with the same interactions and experiences we do. And like you said, being an introvert is a gift from God, and definitely a gift that I have been able to use for God’s glory many times in my life. Again, thank you.

      Like

  2. Grandma says:

    Samuel, I love your posts. As a fellow introvert you are helping me understand myself. One of our shared experiences – going to bed supposedly to sleep and having the brain suddenly wide awake with the “what it’s”. I’ve found quoting scripture helps me relax and get to sleep.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s