For the past week, I have been on school holidays, and it has been blissful. I find my work environment draining, and that may be because I work with extroverts. Nothing against my work colleagues, most of them are lovely people. But working with extroverts and dealing with students on a daily basis can be exhausting for an introvert like myself. For the past week, the only contact I have had with people is with my coffee barista.
To be perfectly honest, I am the dictionary definition of an introvert. I can socialise easily with people, and people tend to like me (for some bizarre reason), but by the end of the day I am drained and need time to charge my batteries for the next day.
Today, there seems to be more understanding of an introvert, but I am not sure people understand how difficult it is to be an introvert in this extrovert world and I think the majority of extroverts don’t care enough to understand. They’d like to believe you were anti-social or shy rather than taking the time to appreciate an introvert. Or worst some people think because we choose to observe we are dull and have nothing to say. I work with a lot of extroverts who think I am rude because I choose not to socialise with them. Another thing I don’t understand. Why do I have to be friends with my work colleagues? I go to work to work not make friends.
How do I stay happy in the extrovert work environment?
- I arrive at work early (even though I am not a morning person) and I enjoy the hour of working in solitude before everyone else arrives. If I were to arrive when all my colleagues were there, I wouldn’t be able to prepare for the day. The quiet and lack of chatter and movement allows me to adjust for the day ahead. It goes against my nature to get up early, but in the end, it is worth it to have that time to prepare for the day of work without the intrusion of others.
- I have my coffee breaks in my office. I make a cup of coffee and sit at my desk, and I enjoy my coffee in quiet and solitude. In past times I would check my emails and do different things, but now I find that I sit and enjoy my coffee. Sometimes I read. I am tempted to take my coffee outside and sit on a bench (because I work in a beautiful environment), but I am afraid that an extrovert will see me and believe that I want company! This quiet time is good for my well-being and makes me better equipped to deal with the students who demand my attention.
- I tend not to go to staff social events. By the time Friday rolls around I find that the last thing I want to do is go out for drinks with my colleagues. All I want is to go home and sit on the couch, and you know what I don’t make excuses or lie, I tell the truth. I don’t want to go out for drinks. It is that simple. I will never understand why we need to make excuses for not wanting to do something. I am still not sure why it is okay for people to judge my choices in life. If they choose to go out and socialise, well they can, all power to them, so why am I judged for not wanting to go to a social event?
- As I have grown older and more content with who I am, I realise that I don’t have to make excuses for who I am. I am an introvert. I am not shy. I am not anti-social. I am not a snob. I do not like people, which takes me that one step further than most introverts. But the people I do like and love, I do whole-heartedly. Extroverts surround themselves with people because it makes them happy. I choose to spend a lot of time alone because this makes me happy. I say do what makes you happy and don’t apologise for it.
- I choose to communicate mainly by email or text. I hate talking on the phone. I hate meetings. My boss is someone who prefers to have meetings. He hates me communicating with him by email. I have learnt to navigate this, and we seem to have come to a happy compromise over the years.
It took me many years, but I now seem to have navigated the world of extroversion as an introvert. For many years I apologised for who I was, and I tried hard to be someone I wasn’t. I am now more accepting of who I am and what my limitations in life are. I always dreaded Monday mornings and that inevitable question, ‘what did you do on the weekend?’. Now, I smile and say didn’t leave the house and it was great.
The best way to be happy in a social world is to do what makes you happy and stop apologising and feeling bad. Enjoy your time, you deserve it, and most importantly, you need it.