Overdoing it

I feel… thin. Sort of stretched, like… butter scraped over too much bread. I need a holiday. — Bilbo Baggins, Fellowship of the Ring

I can’t say I relate entirely to the Hobbit, but the quote certainly applies. This isn’t a depression, this isn’t a bitterness or hatred or anything of the type — this is the feeling I tend to get when I overdo being social, or being in social areas. I greatly feel the need to withdraw, to “recharge my batteries”, so to speak.

It’s a part of my personality that I don’t entirely understand and I doubtfully ever will, all I know is that it’s a set in stone fact that I can’t change, and I don’t think I would want to. By nature, I am one who thrives on solitude and personal reflection, and at times, which is most likely wrong — I feel that external social activities damper my inner life. There must be a balance, to be sure, in order to thrive in a very social world, but my scales tend to tip more towards ‘alone’ than ‘with others’. I am content with that. I’ve never known a time when things weren’t this way for me, and it’s definitely not changing any time soon.

One thing that is unfortunate about it, is the fact that most people don’t understand it at all. Some take offense to it, thinking that I am stuck up, or standoffish, or rude because for a time I’ll be fine with going to dinner or a movie or a drive or whatever spontaneously comes up, then comes the time when I just can’t be productive without drawing back and ‘climbing back into the shell’ so to speak.

Anyone who really knows me can tell you that I am not antisocial as far as conversation and activities go. A good conversation is ideal, getting out of the house once in awhile is a good thing, I’m comfortable in social situations and more often than not I’m calling the shots and playing leader — but this is something that I can only explain as ‘external’, not entirely needed, something that is welcome when the time is right, but nothing that I would suffer without. If I had to choose, say, three months straight of daily activities with friends or three months straight to myself with no obligations or bothers, I would choose the latter in a second.

I’ve lost friends over this in my life, some of which just not being able to understand the fact that I simply need time to myself to function, others thinking I’m cold or unusual. It’s a very unfortunate thing, but this is something I’ve come to terms with. I’ve always preferred a handful of very close friends than a book full of acquaintances. A quote from a friend I heard recently comes to mind:

One should never be in the company of a person with whom it would not be an honor to die.

I suppose the purpose of this blog is to let it all out and see if anyone out there relates to me on this one, and, also, to point out to any dear friends who happen across this that I am not a cold or rude person, not intentionally, I’m just not able to invest too much time in being social.

Forgive me.

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10 Responses to “Overdoing it”

  1. I’d just like to note that in your possibly related posts there is a link to “Want to be David Hasselhoff’s BFF?” 😀 I found that quite amusing.

    Anywho, I’m the same way. I’m admittedly an introvert, something I lose no sleep over. I manage to do nothing on weekday nights and usually do something with friends one night a weekend, and I am happy with that. I enjoy the time to myself. So yes, I can relate.

  2. Dear Fellow INFJ –

    At the risk of sounding prideful:
    Our particular desert, is one that yields the brightest and best flowers, most pleasing to God. It is also one of the most difficult….stay the course. I am with you in spirit.

    Much love always,
    Suzanne

    Ps: It would not surprise me, someday in Heaven, to learn from God’s own lips that some of the desert fathers and mothers were INFJ’s also. I have often thought that the deserts of Egypt had an incredibly high population of these. Take heart..you travel in good company.

  3. I think it’s the inability of some people to endure silence that’s wrong.

  4. Friends may misunderstand, but if they love you more than themselves, they won’t write you off. I often find myself needing time alone, too. The key, I think, is to have a balance–between one’s desire to be alone, and the desire of one’s friends and family to have your presence and engagement.

  5. My dear friend,

    I strongly disagree with your conclusion, below.

    You say:

    “It’s a part of my personality that I don’t entirely understand and I doubtfully ever will, all I know is that it’s a set in stone fact that I can’t change, and I don’t think I would want to”.

    It is a mark of the genuine Christian that he, or she, not only perseveres to the end of time but overcomes all.

    We have received the Spirit of grace, not the spirit of fear. The fearful will not inherit eternal life simply because they choose to reject God’s salvation, preferring instead to hide behind the façade of misery, wrought by the god of this world satan, and his angels.

    Forget your friends. You have one friend, Jesus Christ.

    My prayers are with you.

    Steve

  6. Steve,

    I appreciate your prayers and thoughtful counsel, you are undoubtedly a kind man, and I thank you.

    I don’t consider my ‘social personality’ to be a fear at all. It’s not like agoraphobia or social anxiety in any respect, it’s just … exactly as I wrote above. I don’t feel there is a particular need to overcome this, anymore than there is a need for a socialite to overcome his or her own personality.

    I hope nothing I’ve said is offensive to you, I just figured that perhaps I didn’t word what I had written in the blog so well if it caused readers to believe that I was afraid of being social. As a website administrator and one who works with the public, I’m completely fine around people — but it is not something I eagerly look to do at all times, if that makes sense.

    Knowing this, maybe reading my blog over will give a different impression.

    Peace be with your spirit,

    Isaac

    “Be friends with all men, but in your mind remain alone.” — St. Isaac the Syrian

  7. @John: I agree. Though at certain times I feel I need that time to myself, it would be a selfish thing to dwell only on my own feelings, and not those of my friends and family — and then there is no reward. Better to endure for the sake of others than to let silence and solitude become detrimental, better to extend friendship and conversation when it’s needed rather than only when I want to.

    @Seraphim: We could all benefit from silence, to be sure… America could use some silence and reflection. We all seem so rushed, busy, and flooded with useless noise, especially around this time of the year. Glory to God for the upcoming Nativity Fast. May we prepare our hearts for the coming of the Child in our own hearts, preparing the manger, that is, our souls, with fasting, prayer, and silence.

    @Suzanne: Thank you for your kindness and inspiration. I am glad to know that you relate, and I am not surprised at all that you do. May the desert dwellers and monastics who have found boldness before the throne of grace pray unceasingly for us, that we stay the course and learn the virtue of calmness.

    @Eric: I figured that you would relate, too. It will be a great honor to visit the monastery with you when the time is right, and seek the prayers of Father Seraphim together in Platina. Stay the course! My prayers, however feeble, are with you.

  8. If you’re really wired that way you should see the marvelous movie “Into Great Silence” and consider that you have rare Carthusian vocation. Although they are Western, they were founded at the time of the Schism and still have elements of the pre-schism times in their litergy. Their chant is more Orthodox than most “Orthodox” chant one hears these days. Look up Carthusians on Wicapedia..

  9. I would contest this assertion, that the Carthusians are pre-schism in origin, since they were not founded until the 1090s, well into the Papal reform movement, which marks the end of Orthodoxy in the West. –The other Reader John.

  10. desertseeker Says:

    I appreciated this post, as I find much in it to which I relate. The aphorism nosce te ipsum (know thyself) is important for everyone. I think confusion and frustration and even depression result from not knowing how God has made us and therefore what we need spiritually, physically, and emotionally. Despite being an introvert, I am a school teacher and find that I need to make alone time a priority whenever I can. I do this by getting up at 4:00 every morning, and also finding time for solitary retreat on the weekends. Yes, there are always those who don’t understand, but like John said, true friends won’t write you off.

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