I’m an extrovert, I guess. But even extroverts need to be alone sometimes.

Introversion and extroversion aren’t absolute categories, really. They’re more like extreme points on a spectrum. We all fall on different points in this spectrum, moving up and down it as our moods and health and circumstances change. Lots of books and blogs are out there to tell introverts that there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be alone. To be quiet. Extroverts need that reminder too, not only to help them understand the introverts in their lives but also to help them understand themselves.

Most peg me as an extrovert because I love to talk and hate to eat lunch alone. But I have some introverted qualities too. When I was an infant, I would cry to be put down for nap. During beach vacation my family took when I was five, I scared everyone by sneaking away to watch Scooby Doo by myself. The same little girl who made friends with everyone just needed to be alone.

I’ve always found that my introverted qualities strengthen during the summer. School takes drains me of both physical and emotional energy, so I need the summer to recharge. This summer I’ve needed more time to recharge than ever.

I’m in the middle of one of the biggest transitions I will ever make. I’ve only just finished up my graduate assistantship, an intense yet fulfilling period of my life. And my wedding is in 53 days. The wedding plans are placing a lot of demands on me, of course. There’s more than just the wedding plans to think about though. I’m going to be a wife in 53 days. This thought makes me feel very young and very full.

I’ve not withdrawn completely. I can’t withdraw completely and plan a wedding at the same time: I have phone calls to make and meetings to attend and decisions to make and shopping to do. I’ve spent several Saturdays in a row shopping for my wedding. But when I’m done with the shopping and the calls, I’m ready to be alone.

When I look back on this summer and wonder why I didn’t read more or blog more, this post will remind me why. I just needed a little quiet.



About Nel

As a graduate education student, I've come to the conclusion that teaching requires an addiction to caffeine. My favorite caffeinated beverages are coffee, tea, and diet Coke. And when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in January 2012, I also came to the conclusion that living requires insulin. I blog about my busy life juggling graduate education courses, a teaching assistantship in my University's English department, and my recent type 1 diabetes diagnosis the The Clumsy Juggler. I do not live in New York City.

60 responses »

  1. So your wedding is in 53 days, I don’t really think you will have any quiet time for a while. I hope you do but I think you have a lot to take care of. Maybe after the wedding you will get your quiet time.

  2. As someone with a similar life situation, (I’m guessing) a similar age, also with type 1 diabetes (not that it has anything to do with this post really, but still a notable similarity I thought), and with the same often-extroverted-but-desperately-needing-alone-time-to-recharge personality I can greatly appreciate this entry. I too will be working on spacing out some refreshing alone time as I have the summer off from teaching. Thanks for reminding me that it is a time to treasure and not to feel guilty about. I hope your summer brings you many quiet moments!

  3. ‘I just needed a little quiet.’ that speaks so much – am a tagged extrovert but I know more often than not, i need the self-time, the disconnect so i can find the quiet.
    many wishes on your wedding. good luck for the preparations and congratulations!

  4. Wonderful post! I’d like to consider myself somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, but I lean a little more to the extrovert end. I don’t remember my MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) test results, but I think it was something close to where I think I am. My bachelor’s degree is in psychology and behavioural science, so I’ve studied this topic fairly extensively. Personality traits are interesting and fluid things; some traits never change whereas others do over the course of life.

    • I need to take an MBTI test one of these days–I was obsessed with movie character-oriented personality tests when I was in high school!

      • Those are fun to take! I would take the anime character-related ones. Sometimes they were accurate, but the problem is that oftentimes those types of questionnaires are poorly worded and the answers can be manipulated to get a more desirable outcome.

  5. As an extrovert (90%) of the time, I too have to have my time alone to recharge. Illness unfortunately has made me something of a hermit of late, and I bless social media for giving me some contact with my friends that I can’t visit at the moment. As a wife who just celebrated our first year of marriage this past Sunday, I wanted to recommend online shopping as a way of relieving the stress of wedding shopping and planning. I took a little over a year to plan our wedding, and I cannot tell you how much easier the planning was with the aid of all the online wedding sites. I am also finishing my degree, so I know the stress of having work, school, and wedding all at the same time! I wish you the best, and may your wedding and marriage be just as wonderful as mine has been! Love is hard to find, and when you are lucky enough to get it, treasure it, nurture it, and most of all enjoy it! Best of everything, Beth

  6. I love to be around people aand try to meet up with my social group at least once a week if not more. But, I find that when I do have alone time, I enjoy it. I’ll try and do if one evening a week where I just shut myself away and write, or read and watch a moive. I always find that I feel better after it. I usually feel more refreshed, in an odd way.

  7. I understand the time for quiet. As an ex teacher for over forty years I was constantly in front of the stage. By the time I got home I was talked out but I continued because I needed to communicate in my private life also. Now I am retired and have time to kill i find I have too much quiet times and long for the times when my voice seemed to have more relevance. that is why I blog. And yet is this not quiet time for I hear no one and say nothing.

  8. Nicely written! My biggest pet peeve is when people ask me what’s wrong since in being quiet and therefore not “myself.” As a serious extrovert, I understand the need for quiet time!

    • It’s true–being quiet doesn’t always mean something is wrong! I have to remind myself of that with my fiance. He’s a textbook introvert, for one thing, and also not a particularly talkative person. That doesn’t mean he’s sad or upset. He’s just quiet.

  9. I too would certainly be labeled an extrovert, but I need my alone time too. I really enjoyed your post because it was easy to read and to the point. You have a nice following – any tips for this brand new blogger? Regardless, congrats on your upcoming marriage. All the best to you and yours.

    • I’m not a big time blogger by any means, but I suggest that you just keep blogging. Make sure you blog because you want to and that you say things you feel compelled to say–don’t just blog for traffic. It should be something you find fulfilling. Also, I suggest reading blogs that you like. Hope these tips are helpful. Thanks for your well wishes.

  10. Nice post.

    Withdrawing from social interaction is a wise and healthy decision…the culture demands we be ON all the time, as if we, too, had batteries or charge cords and never get tired or need solitude. I work as a journalist, and love talking to people for a living, but coupled with finding and keeping clients and maintaining my marriage (no kids) and friendships and, oh yeah, my own life…it takes a lot of energy to do it well. I did an eight-day silent retreat two summers ago and it changed my life. I now really appreciate silence and solitude.

    • A silent retreat sounds like a great idea, especially for those in “peopley” professions like yours. I will probably need one when I’m finished with student teaching in December!

      • Not sure (?) where you live, but there are many options — at monasteries and nunneries, but also at other places. They are not necessarily expensive and you can go for shorter periods of time. It is truly life-changing to see how much energy we spend/waste just being polite and social, reacting to people all day long.

  11. I clicked on this post because I am currently reading the book of the same name.
    My wedding is actually in 29 days and I am an introvert finally putting together why I do the things I do.
    I feel you. A lot. Wedding pressure makes me want to crawl back under the covers, and some days I do just that. Good luck with the rest of your summer!

    • Wow! That’s coming up fast. I hope planning is going well. As married friends have assured me, This Too Shall Pass. I wish wedding planning didn’t involve so much pressure. I’ve taken some off by reminding myself that this is my wedding: I don’t need to impress anyone. If I want to do things more simply to avoid some of the pressure, that is ok.

  12. Loving this and my quiet. Can really relate to your need for quiet. It is a most beautiful experience in our world gone dizzy with ringing, singing, pinging doodads. May your summer be a peaceful one full of all those quiet moments you need. Congrats on the upcoming wedding.

  13. Kudos to you! I may be a younger lady but I have been though things that resemble the stress and anxiety that create that piece and quiet you are looking for. My advice to you is don’t stress over the little things you cannot control and even though you feel like there is way to much on your plate. Take just one FULL day off for yourself. It will do you great. Trust me.

    • We all need quiet sometimes! One of my good friends thinks that I’m really just an outgoing introvert, but my introverted fiance still insists that I’m an extrovert. I guess it doesn’t really matter what label we use as long as we find a healthy balance, right?

  14. Ah yes, ALONE TIME. I have plenty of alone time but I find myself not using it well. I don’t work and my toddler {thankfully!} goes to daycare during the day so that she can socialize w/ other children {and so Momma can avoid going bat-shit crazy before 4pm in the afternoon} but at the end of the day, I still feel like I didn’t get to really enjoy it like I would have liked. That’s frustrating! I’ve always been one to want some support—’shy’ might be a better way to describe it—so doing things alone is kind of scary for me. I hope for you that when you DO get your alone time, you use it exactly the way you want to, and feel rewarded and fulfilled afterward.

    • I’ve had plenty of those days too, although toddlers aren’t involved in any way. Sometimes making myself a schedule helps with the feelings of blah, but it doesn’t always work. It’s really hard to feel blah out in the sunshine though!

      • Very true! That’s one of my aims for the next year or so: earn enough money that going to a beach or even an unexpected trip to town for some lawn furniture won’t break the bank! I love being outside, but I have to be comfortable! Good luck w/ your quiet time!

      • I was hoping to go to the beach soon myself, but apparently it’s monsoon season right now: rain almost every day. Of course, the rain is the perfect excuse for staying in and scrapbooking!

  15. There’s nothing wrong with quiet times. I am fairly sure that I’m an extrovert but I enjoy the occasional alone time to “recharge” my batteries so that I’ll be able to face others the next day.

    • We all need some time to recharge. One if my beat friends used to get in trouble with her parents for being cranky when she was a little kid. She knows now she just needed time alone to rest and recharge.

    • As much as I love technology, I need to make sure I unplug all my devices from time to time–it adds another, very persistent layer of noise to my life.

    • Yes! “Ambivert” isn’t quite as fun to say as “ambidextrous” but it does seem to be pretty descriptive. Also, it’s pretty fun to say too.

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