I need some alone time, please!”  It also stands for:

I will be in my room, if you please don’t need me!”

I just need it to be really, really quiet!”

and sometimes, “I have discovered the bathtub also doubles as a neat hiding place.”

image courtesy of: Boaz Yiftach/freedigitalphotos.net

image courtesy of: Boaz Yiftach/freedigitalphotos.net

This is not I am selfish.  Introverts require time in a quiet space without stimulation in order to recharge and be able to function socially and professionally.  Ain’t nothin’ wrong with it; it can simply be misunderstood as being rude, unsocial or just plain weird.  Sometimes it can make our loved ones, who don’t require the same time and space, feel hurt.

As an introvert married to an extravert, this matter comes up once in awhile…but less often since I showed him this TED talk by Susan Cain, author of The Power of Introverts.  I also shared with him information I was happy to come across because it helped me understand myself better: I’m not just a moody being who shouldn’t be sharing a home with anybody.  Extraverts, like my husband, happen to get energy from other people.  Introverts, like me, regain our energy alone.

I used to swallow my need for solitary time because I didn’t realize how crucial it was to my well-being.  It was like depriving myself of sleep or nutrition, though, and there were consequences.  I didn’t realize my grumpiness, my feeling of being overwhelmed or my fatigue were all connected to my need to be alone.  And I happen to need a space that is dark and quiet.  The TV bugs me when I’m trying to defrag, even when I’m not watching.  It just has to be on in the other room – if I can hear it, it’s a bother.  I need dim lights in the evening (and my husband loves the lights on high…).

So, how are we getting around this?  Now that we both understand that our differences have nothing to do with our desire to be with each other in general, we’re working on a schedule so that we share some time together and make sure we each get what we need to recharge.  In other words, team sports for him and reading in bed for me.  It’s a bit of a dance but it feels great to finally understand myself.  As well, I know that it’s OK to lay this information out on the table and throw my needs into the pile too.  The I does not stand for I am selfish.

It stands for I love my husband.  I love my family.  I love all the people in my life.  And very importantly, it also stands for I love myself.