Introverts

How to Handle a Funeral as an Introvert

My family recently held a funeral. It is the kind of funeral where dozens of cousins and others from all over the planet join together in one spot to remember our deceased relative.

From the carpooling, to the hosting duties, to having to meet and greet people you haven’t seen in a while, to viewing images and hearing stories of the deceased,  it’s an intense hour or two for so many reasons.

When you are introverted and would rather be alone with your thoughts, you might feel the overwhelming, almost claustrophobic, social atmosphere in ways that others do not.

Here are a few tips for introverts that I have used recently and in the past at funerals:

  • You might decide that the funeral is not for you, that it doesn’t help you grieve. You might decide not to go at all. Respect your own way of healing; do not be pressured into attending if you would rather not.
  • Ahead of time, spend as much time to yourself as you require, or around the individuals that you enjoy most. Once you arrive at the funeral, you will be surrounded by two kinds of people: those you like and those who are helping you to practice patience. Fully charge yourself (like a battery) beforehand.
  • Even with the best of intentions, you still might feel the need to step out of the room for a minute or step out of the room until it is time to leave the property. That is perfectly fine. Each person, introverted or not, has her or his own way to grieve and process a death. At a certain interval, I walked away from the crowd in the building to be alone at the cemetery for awhile; it was the only peaceful place.
  • Journal during the funeral. Journal writing can be a solitary endeavor where you slow down, calm down, and organize your jumbled thoughts. I like to take notes on the different stories that people are telling about the deceased. Be aware, however, that other people might look over your shoulder to see what you are writing.
  • If the funeral is a two-part event, wherein there is a memorial and then food is served, skip the meal, if you wish. It’s just more crowding and how-do-you-dos.
  • If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed, if you are having sensory overload, concentrate on something. Ask yourself, what one thing do I see? What one thing do I smell? What one thing do I taste? What one sound do I hear? What one texture do I feel right now? These are also good journal prompts.
  • If  it is not too much for you, be a listening ear to someone else who wishes to get something off her chest. I find that commiserating with someone that I like, helping her with her problems, takes my mind off of my own tendency to bolt out of the crowd.
  • After the funeral, do something enjoyable or relaxing. The weekend after the funeral, when I would usually concentrate on business or work,  I did absolutely nothing that wasn’t enjoyable to me. I thought about my deceased relative, read a book that I like, wrote in my journal and just relaxed.

What are your tips for introverts at funerals?

Peace,

Deborah

Introverts

Introvert at a Family Reunion

Family reunions can crop up at any time, especially during holidays. You love your relatives,  but the crowds can be draining for those of us who are introverts and gather our energy from solitude or quiet. We are like the battery in your phone -plug us in,  leave us alone,  and we will recharge.

Here are a few tips to help an introvert at a family reunion.

~ Remember why you are at the reunion.  If you are there to get to know people,  have a goal to better understand at least one of your relatives.  After you have accomplished this task,  consider the event a success and go home.

~ If you are on the reunion committee,  use your influence to suggest quiet times,  more breaks between scheduled programs,  or help to create quiet corners in the event space.

~ Even if you are not on the reunion committee,  and it is an informal reunion,  volunteer to help behind the scenes where there tends to be more work going on and less chatter.

~ Take a break from people when you need to do so.  Self-care is not rude.

~ If the reunion is at or near a hotel,  rent a room there. Quietly steal away to decompress in the room when needed.

~ If the reunion is in a more rustic area and you are camping,  rise before everyone else,  drink in the beautiful vista, and enjoy the quiet by yourself before the events start.

~ Help other introverts. As you understand your relatives more,  you will learn who also needs quiet time;  help them find it. You might need to run interference for an introverted relative by distracting Aunt Fern with chit chat so that Cousin Chad may escape to solitude.

At a recent reunion,  I discovered that one of my younger cousins does not like crowds and would cry whenever too many people engaged with him. His parents, however, were there to socialize. I volunteered to supervise him away from crowds and he seemed perfectly contented.

~ Have a long talk with a relative that you like. The familiarity tends to ease the frustration of crowds.  Before you know it,  the event will be over.

~ Arrive in your own mode of transportation so that you can leave when needed.

~ If you carpool to the event,  choose to ride with two relatives who love to chat with each other.   Engage in the conversation  only when you feel like doing so.

Peace be with you,

Deborah

Introverts

Introvert at a Birthday Party

It’s wonderful when people celebrate the day of your birth. However, being the center of attention can be a drain for many, including introverts. So here’s what you can do to endure with grace.

  • Make your birthday a day of giving to someone else. It was awkward the first time I revealed presents to my family after they had given me gifts on my birthday, but I like seeing the surprise on their faces. Plus, if I’m more concerned about them than I am about how drained I am, I’m less likely to watch the clock and grin and bear it until it’s time to go home.

I also plan to create a wider day of giving to the community on my    birthday. In that way, if someone wants to celebrate with me, they can help me give donations to the charity shop, or something. (I haven’t figure out the exact thing, but it’s something on my list to do.)

 

  • Remember that your birthday is not all about you. Even if you are tired and worn out from people, you’ve had your social quota for the day,  remember your loved ones want and need to make memories with you. You are special to them; let them make their memories.

 

  • Just accept the well wishes and the discomfort. If all else fails, remember that this birthday party will not last. And when it’s all over, you can go home and crash. There are worse things in the world than people celebrating the fact that you were born.

Let me know how you handle these things.

Peace,

Deborah

Introverts

Bill Cunningham, Fashion Photographer | Introvert in the Spotlight #1

I discovered Bill Cunningham -fashion photographer for the New York Times-  about a year before his death in 2016. His documentary –Bill Cunningham: New York– is fascinating. He lived a single life and a singular life. Although I don’t recall anyone straight up saying in the documentary that he is an introvert, Cunningham seemed to live the life of one.

In an article for the New York Times, Cunningham says,

“I STARTED photographing people on the street during World War II. I used a little box Brownie. Nothing too expensive. The problem is I’m not a good photographer. To be perfectly honest, I’m too shy. Not aggressive enough. Well, I’m not aggressive at all. I just loved to see wonderfully dressed women, and I still do. That’s all there is to it.”

Career-wise Cunningham found something that he liked; he stumbled upon fashion photography when someone gave him a camera. How can an introvert in a social world like the world of Fashion (with a capital F) be comfortable? I think the answer is that he found a little cubby for himself in the industry.

His employers gave him a great amount of autonomy – something introverts tend to need. He would shoot runways, but he was also fond of street style – photographing what people wear around town.

He would run around New York City, not necessarily talking to anyone, but observing trends, photographing patterns of sartorial behavior, investigating style and delighting when people bring a little brightness to winter with a pop of sky blue, heralding the spring.

His face absolutely lights up as he describes fashion, when he says that you do not know what people will think to wear next. That’s when I realized Cunningham must have been something like a birdwatcher, except the birds are human and they change their plumage every day. The possibilities are endless.

I appreciate Cunningham’s attention to male fashion –  you can still see his archived weekly trend-spotting videos at the New York Times website. Male fashion, to my untrained eye, does not seem to change much. But Cunningham finds the subtleties, and appreciates the boldness of youngsters paving the way for a revolution in male fashion – something I would not have noticed. Cunningham’s attention to detail quietly draws your eye to what you would not have seen.

Check out the documentary, tell me what you think.

Sincerely,

Deborah

 

 

Introverts

An Introvert on the Career Schmooze

Long ago, a mentor said to me, “Deborah, to gain the career you want, you must schmooze.”  I interpreted schmoozing as going to functions that you do not like, where there are powerful, or potentially powerful, people in your industry and ingratiate yourself to this group.

As an introvert, highly-sensitive person, and chitchat avoid-er, I was never really comfortable with schmoozing.

A local leader in my industry invited a select few university students to his house for dinner. Guess it’s time to schmooze; I accept.

Turns out I misheard. The dinner party is actually cocktails by the pool -one of those gatherings where you stand around and pontificate over a glass of Merlot.  I did not anticipate this scene. (1)Chitchat is always awkward and (2) dinner would have given me something to do.  Now, my teetotaling self must stand there with a glass of water trying to be interesting. Already I’m uncomfortable and want to go home.

However, I recall my mentor’s words – Schmooze, Deborah. Schmooze!

I remain at the party,  but I stand next to the Gouda tray, hoping to blend in to the nearby ferns, I guess. One of my classmates sidles up to me -a classmate who is clearly on his second glass and who has never said more to me then, “What’s the homework?”    Holding forth about his career, he says, “Yep! I do not like [our industry] – it’s boring, it’s tedious, I can’t stand it.” ” But this,” he says, sweeping his glass in an arch towards the house, the pool, and the cheese,” is why I’m doing it.”

Sip.

At that moment, I stopped feeling awkward and contemplated what I had just heard. This young man was going into a career that he already knows he does not like, just to have a pool that he will not have time to use. The industry that we were headed into works you with long hours; he would only have to time to brag about the pool at work, not actually use it. Not only that, once he earns the physical object he wants,  he is still left with the career that he hates.

Maybe that’s why he felt the need to imbibe, to get away. I felt an enormous wave of pity towards him. “Isn’t there any other way to buy your pool,” I thought, “than putting yourself through a career that is clearly torture for you?”

Hours later at home, as I contemplated the scene again, I realized I had also tortured myself by staying longer than I should have.  Years later I realized that I had done a disservice to  myself  by  being in denial and remaining in an industry and a culture that I did not like.

I say this, fellow introvert, not to discourage you from accepting invitations, but to learn from my mismanagement of self.

Sure, we all do uncomfortable things, that’s a part of life. However, many introverts still complain about networking. I posit that schmoozing might not always be the problem for introverts on the career hunt; sometimes the issue is in not knowing what is important enough to us to be worth the discomfort.

Going to that party was an attempt to boost a career that I did not want. (But I had not yet admitted that to myself.). Therefore, staying at the party past my comfort was not worth the time.  I could have used the time to build a different career in another, more organic way.

We’ve talked about dirt sandwiches before on this website. Every lifestyle -whether introverted or not- has something unpleasant about it, what I call a “dirt sandwich.”

For an introvert, that might mean the unpleasantness of networking to find a job, or suffering through initial chitchat to find compatible friends. Whatever your dirt sandwich may be, you must decide this: For what are you so hungry that you do not mind grit in your teeth to gain or maintain that life?

Everybody must decide this, not only introverts. It’s just that the dirt sandwiches differ with each person.

For introverts, maybe the job which requires so much networking isn’t for you, even if you are good at the job. Perhaps the psychological and emotional cost of entry for that career is not within your emotional budget right now. Perhaps your mind is trying to tell you to go in another direction and you are not listening.

Perhaps more introverts should ask, “What would I like my life to look like?” Answer that, and networking  becomes just another dirt sandwich – nothing pleasant, but nothing quite so major as it was for me at that party.

Since that party, I have reinterpreted schmoozing as being around like-minded people. It has been my experience that when you become excited about a job or career -one that you really want-  you might be nervous at first, but you plow right through, even if it comes at the high cost of social interaction. And sometimes it’s actually fun -Imagine that!- because you are discussing topics that are interesting to you with people who share that interest.

You learn to create a budget for networking, psychologically. That might mean that after networking, or interviewing, or whatever-ing, you decide to journal about your progress (or however you decompress). Before a meeting, you might have butterflies in your stomach, a frog in your throat – basically, the whole animal kingdom in your gut- but you push through it, because it gets you closer to that life you want so much.

Let me sum it up. To introverts on the career/job hunt:

  1. What would you like your life to look like?
  2. Does that job/career get you closer to that life in a meaningful way?
  3. Make sure to budget -psychologically- if that career you want comes with the high cost of schmoozing.
  4. Schmoozing is a little less aggravating when you’re working towards something meaningful to you.
  5. (Oh yes, and don’t try to do this alone, if possible. Have someone who can commiserate with you -whether that’s a career coach, friends/ family, or the nice people on your Facebook group.)

Peace be with you,

Deborah

Introverts · Tech Thoughts from a Consumer

An Introvert Celebrates Texting

The texting culture– where people expect that you will send a text message via your cell phone instead of the usual phone call with your voice or video call- has been a big boon to introverts.

Some introverts tend to feel rushed or drained by face-to-face or voice-to-voice encounters, especially if you catch us when our social quota is depleted for the day. The 24/7 connected-ness that cell phones and the internet have brought throughout society could have proved to be the worse thing that happened to us this century.

However, a texting culture allows for our way of life as introverts. With texting, you have time to think through your response before sending it. You can respond an hour later, if you like. You don’t have to come up with something witty or clever right now, as you do on the phone or in face-to-face encounters. If you’re drained from being around people all day, you can rest and then text. You don’t have to make a decision right away.

You have time to ponder.

You have time to breathe.

You have time to just… be.

And the thrill of it all is that this is now the NORM, people! The NORM! Not only introverts are doing it. Today, it’s almost weird to call someone – whether introverted or not- when you just wanted to send a smiley face emoji.  Do you realize how exciting that is?

[Side note: Texting also gives you a visual record of the communication, which makes my inner historian shriek with joy. I have now started to print out some especially memorable texts and affix them to journals.]

People might rail against the downfall of humanity, that we’re not calling like we would have in the 20th century. And maybe they are right, in some respects. But really we are doing what our ancestors did – sending letters or homing pigeons- only faster and with more of a likelihood that the message will arrive at the destination.

For once, introverts are not the odd ones who wish to write out a response instead of talk. We have it so good right now. Savor this moment!

Peace,

Deborah the Introvert

Introverts

Introvert at the Theater [Stage or Movie]

You might enjoy a play or a movie, but how do you navigate the special circumstances which come with being an introvert crowded next to strangers in one spot, in the dark, for a couple of hours?

The most challenging moments might come before and after, when the house lights are up and everyone is engaged in small talk or finding a seat. Hopefully, during the play or movie you are so enraptured in the acting that you relax a bit about your surroundings.

Here are a few ideas for enjoying the theater a little bit more as an introvert.

  1. Create a social buffer by bringing a couple of friends or relatives that you like. Sit between them. Depending on your personality, you might feel less drained around people that you already know than you do around strangers.
  2. If no one is going with you, choose an aisle seat. Yes, you will need to do the aisle seat polka- stand up and sit down to allow others to pass through to the middle seats. However, there is one less person on one side of you to chatter.
  3. Remember why you are attending and choose only the plays or movies that you think you will especially enjoy. A grumpy theater patron was seated next to me once. No one, introverted or otherwise, would have found him pleasant, but I  felt particularly unnerved. I contemplated leaving. Was it worth the time to sit through this play and his rudeness? Since I had wanted to see this play for years and had traveled far to see it, I decided that it was worth it. Had it been a movie theater, or other place without assigned seating,  I would have found another seat or left. It was the value of the play that kept me there.
  4. Patronize specialty theaters that tend to be smaller and have fewer distractions. I visited the Alamo Cinema in Texas.  They are a movie theater which has assigned seating and offers dinner. They have a policy which excludes children, except on one day of the week. I love the little ones; they do not bother me. However, for some people, including introverts and highly-sensitive people, a young child doing what children do during a movie is discomforting.
  5. Wait for the DVD or digital download. Nothing replaces live theater or a 30 foot screen. However, sometimes you just cannot be bothered with seeing a new release at the cinema or going to the theater. Wait until the film becomes available for home entertainment. Even some theater productions (dramas, operas, etc.) get a second life on film. Visit Digital Theatre for British theater on film. A few years ago, a company called Broadway Near You  brought Angela Lansbury and James Earl Jones to the cinema in their performance of Driving Miss Daisy at the Comedy Theatre in Melbourne. This production was filmed and is now on DVD; this seems to be the wave of the future. [Side note:  Stage performances will have a great boost in sales when virtual reality becomes commonplace. Immersive tech will help people to feel as if they are there without needing to physically travel to a specific theater. ]
  6. Appreciate the fact that -whether you are at the cinema or at a stage play- the house lights will turn down soon and shroud the crowd in darkness, giving your senses a break from ingesting input about those surrounding you.

What are your theater tips for introverts?

Sincerely,

Deborah