Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Plight of a Big-Mouthed Introvert

On two different occasions in the last 5 or 6 years, two totally unrelated girlfriends of mine – who don’t know each other at all – have both given me sets of four matching coffee mugs. They looked something like these:

Cute, very cool, coffee mugs. And given my tendency towards drinking anywhere from 3 to 850 cups of coffee a day, both sets were very thoughtful gifts. Because, after all, I didn’t have any coffee mugs. 


These aren't actually mine, but it's pretty indicative of how many coffee mugs I have. 30-40. Mugs of all different shapes and sizes. Some from my travels to different places, others from favorite movies, TV or Broadway shows, some just had cool pictures or quotes. Heck, some of them I got just because they were on sale for 99 cents at whatever store I’d gone to that day.

Point was, I’d never really thought about my coffee cups or the fact that not a single one of them matched a single other one of them.  Because most of the time I was drinking coffee by myself.

Because I like drinking coffee by myself.

Because, believe it or not, I am actually very much an introvert.

Go ahead and laugh, I don’t blame you. Most people laugh at that the words Janie and introvert in the same sentence.

Because no, I am not shy. No, I’m not quiet. And no, I’m not necessarily overly creative.  All of which are common myths about introverts.

The Interwebs have been fairly blowing up over the past few days with stuff about Introverts (not new stuff, but new to me). The funniest was (of course) BuzzFeed's 27 Problems Only Introverts Will Understand.  But this little cartoon is my favorite, because it’s just so simple, but so true:

The full infographic guide can be found here

And that’s the basic truth about me, minus the hamster ball.  I can be with people, have lots of fun, chit chat, etc.,  but it’s not an easy, natural process for me. It costs me energy.  The longer I have to do it, the more it takes out of me.

And the crazy thing is, it doesn’t matter who it is: friends, family, complete strangers, or the people I love the most in the world. After a certain amount of time – usually not too long – with people, I shut down. It has nothing to do with being shy or quiet or not liking them.

Most friends realize this about me relatively early.They know I don’t answer my phone. Ever.  (But I will text). They know that when I’m out running,  I want to run alone, rather than with people. They know that I don’t have friends over at my house very often because I can’t control when they’ll leave. (And evidently saying, “Hey, it’s a quarter past get out” isn’t socially acceptable).


My two friends with the coffee cups – two of my most precious friends – both had a difficult time understanding my introverted nature because they are both fabulous extroverts. They have parties, and get-togethers, and fun soirees all the time. They go out with people, or their husbands, or both, on both Friday AND Saturday nights. Every weekend.

They would ask me what I did this weekend, I  would respond: “Oh, I just hung out at home by myself.” To them, that is the most heartbreaking answer anyone could give.

The purpose of their coffee cup gifts were to help me be less introverted. Gifts that suggested: let’s have a group of gals come over to Janie’s house and drink coffee! Now that she has the matching cups, she has no reason not to do it. She has no reason to ever tragically answer, “Oh, I just hung out at home by myself.”

It took us a while to work though these differences. I hurt their feelings a lot of times because of choosing to be by myself rather than do something with them. I wish I had the cartoon to give to them then so they could’ve understood so neatly. But even without it, we eventually found an extrovert/introvert balance.

Now, I make an effort to invite them over for coffee regularly. They make an effort to state up front how long they will be at my house and know that there is a time limit for how long I can chat without completely shutting down. They understand that I am an introvert. And weird.

I am grateful to have friends who accept me for what I am: a big-mouthed introvert.

And we always drink out their matching coffee cups when they are here.


  1. Loved this post Janie. This is exactly me. I love writing because it allows me to share my thoughts and ideas when I want to. I love the solitude and space it gives me. Social media also suits me for this reason. Glad to know I'm not the only one who starts clearing up when I want people to leave. Good job my other half is an extrovert. :-)

  2. I don't think the soon-to-be-published author gets to call herself "not necessarily overly creative" anymore. ;)

  3. I agree, Janie. I love people and being around them but I do feel the energy depletion. When I answer the phone it's hard to sound "peppy". More like "what do you want?"

    As for coffee cups, I was once told I should go on a "coffee cup diet". The nerve!