I Need to Be Alone

Sometimes, in social situations, I start to feel very overwhelmed. My body gets very tired and I feel on the verge of tears. I can’t think properly. I get irritated at the smallest thing someone says or does. What is wrong with me? I wonder. Then I realise that the feeling is familiar. I am socially exhausted, and I have been in this situation many times before. All I really need is to be alone.

A few years ago I had the realisation that I was an introvert. I read an article somewhere that explained that being an introvert means that you feel drained from being around other people, and to get your energy back you need time alone. Everyone needs some time alone, but introverts tend to need a lot more of it and have less need for social interaction compared to extroverts. Realising that I was an introvert helped me to understand my own feelings and behaviour. Rather than getting frustrated with other people for no reason, I can now recognise when I am feeling drained and take some time out.

I usually get socially exhausted when I haven’t given myself a break from socialising for a while. Looking back on this week, I can see how this happened. I spent a whole weekend on a trip with friends. The next day, I went to a wedding, then the day after was an awards night, which turned into a night out at the pub. Then the next three days were full of events with my extended family. No wonder I was feeling drained.

Self-care as an introvert means trying to balance your need for time alone and your need for human interaction. Spending time with the people I love is very important to me! Being an introvert shouldn’t be used as an excuse to bail on social obligations, lock yourself in your room, and pretend no one else exists, but I do have to make sure that I have time to rest and be alone. This is non-negotiable, otherwise I might just start snapping at people or crying when someone tries to make small talk with me. No one wants that.

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