Sunday, June 06, 2010

What are the best places for the avoidant?

I just got back from the gym this morning and it was almost empty, it was great. It's usually full of people getting on the machines and staying there while listening to music, talking on the phone or just plain staring into space. I also got up at 6 this morning to get on the phone to try and get our internet connection fixed. I actually got a live person on the phone. I must admit that Glenn finally fixed it but that's not the point of this post. It is the sheer joy of finding few or no people in my immediate surroundings so that I can get some peace and quiet.

At this point, if you are an introvert like I am, you totally get what I just said. If you tend more towards extroversion, you will write me off as a kook. Fair enough. I have talked to numerous introverts that go to Wal-Mart in the middle of the night, grocery shop at odd hours and basically avoid people like the plague. Some call them odd, I call them comrades. There are other experts who say that being an introvert is a positive thing. I agree.

Are you an introvert? If so, where do you go or what do you do to avoid people when you feel overwhelmed by them?

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Blogger Jeff Y said...

Helen, you should read A Party of One.

I often avoid people. I need time to think. I find most people can't maintain a consistent dialog on a subject. They distract.

It's the same with my workouts. Unless I meet a rare person who really likes to scrap, I'll waste my time in the typical fitness group.

I use bookshops to avoid people. I've learned the patterns of traffic at a few of the stores near me. I go during low population periods. When I have a book in my face, no one disturbs me.

I hit the nature trails up in Plano, during the day on a weekday. Everyone is at work. The trails are empty.

I can sit in a shaded observation tower, overlook a gorgeous scene, and think undisturbed for hours.

Good stuff.

12:45 PM, June 06, 2010  
Blogger Unknown said...

"Are you an introvert?"

When I want to be. I enjoy both states of being.

1:42 PM, June 06, 2010  
Blogger Laura said...

I work from a home office. I realize that's not possible for everyone, but I actually went to a lot of effort to set my life up this way and it works really well for me; the peace of mind was worth retraining in a different job field and the cut in pay.

1:53 PM, June 06, 2010  
Blogger Rustmeister said...

Most definitely an introvert. I usually get "me time" by riding my motorcycle or driving by myself.

1:57 PM, June 06, 2010  
Blogger Omnibabe said...

I open a book and dive between the pages. I can tune people out anywhere and be perfectly alone in a crowd as long as I have a good book with me.

5:35 PM, June 06, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr Helen: Just curious about whether you are familiar with the work of Dr Elaine Aron (The Highly Sensitive Person). I read her book and had very mixed feelings.

Do you have any input on Dr Aron's work?

7:51 PM, June 06, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:56 PM, June 06, 2010  
Blogger pockosmum said...

I'm an introvert too. Sometimes it's just too much to go out where I know there are going to be a lot of people. I grocery shop just before the store closes at night, I skip the gym at times, and shut off my cell phone.

8:03 PM, June 06, 2010  
Blogger Rooted in Him said...

I teach, and spend hours each day "being" an extrovert. For real solitude time, I actually go into work on Saturday's. The school is empty and wonderful and peaceful and quiet.

8:30 PM, June 06, 2010  
Blogger Amy Alkon said...

I'm not an introvert -- quite the contrary -- but I like human contact and hate crowds and traffic. Home Depot used to be open until 3am here, and I went there more than once in the wee hours.

My boyfriend is a big introvert whose idea of a great party is one that's cancelled. I like him to be happy, so I try not to take him to too many events. He'll always come when I want him with me, but I love telling him when he's travelling, "Guess what, honey -- big party tonight at so and so's and you don't have to go!"

PS He's always happy being one-on-one with me, and he's wonderful around people he likes -- he just dreads party chitchat, and likes to quote Vingh Rhames, from the set of "Out of Sight": "I don't want to talk to anyone I don't already know."

10:00 PM, June 06, 2010  
Blogger Topher said...

This is a great topic, Helen! I am a classic Myers-Briggs parties I excuse myself to hang out in the bathroom for five minutes just to recharge.

No one who is close to me can believe it, because when I'm with my close friends or talking about a topic of interest, I am very chatty. It just takes a lot of energy for me to concentrate on all the social rules.

Y'all might enjoy this Atlantic article called "Caring For Your Introvert." It was a big step for me to realize that how I work is not abnormal:

The worst of it is that extroverts have no idea of the torment they put us through. Sometimes, as we gasp for air amid the fog of their 98-percent-content-free talk, we wonder if extroverts even bother to listen to themselves. Still, we endure stoically, because the etiquette books—written, no doubt, by extroverts—regard declining to banter as rude and gaps in conversation as awkward. We can only dream that someday, when our condition is more widely understood, when perhaps an Introverts' Rights movement has blossomed and borne fruit, it will not be impolite to say "I'm an introvert. You are a wonderful person and I like you. But now please shush."

How can I let the introvert in my life know that I support him and respect his choice? First, recognize that it's not a choice. It's not a lifestyle. It's an orientation.

Second, when you see an introvert lost in thought, don't say "What's the matter?" or "Are you all right?"

Third, don't say anything else, either.

10:10 PM, June 06, 2010  
Blogger RuyDiaz said...

I'm an introvert too.

Don't need to avoid crowds so much, because I'm usually not in the crowds. (Come to think of it, that may be because I'm so good at avoiding situations with too many people, loudness, and so on.)

Much like other introverts, I dislike chit-chat but I'm very animated one-on-one and about non-chatty themes of conversation.

To escape I either read, or turn of the lights and think in the dark.

(And now I want to learn more about this topic.)

10:29 PM, June 06, 2010  
Blogger blahga the hutt said...

Well, I don't really like people (I really don't have much faith in people), so I guess I'm an introvert. Probably borderline reclusive.

I have a job that is at night, in a branch library on campus so I don't have many patrons. The ones that do come in usually get taken care of by my student workers, so that frees me up to do other library tasks. This also works well when I want to get something at the supermarket, because it's pretty dad at 11pm or so.

i generally don't go out much because I don't like crowds (I can't remember the last time I saw fireworks on the 4th). As someone else said, I generally avoid going to stores during the peak hours, but if I must, then I get in and out as soon as possible. The only ones I'm generally pretty close to are my family, student workers (mostly a good group of kids) and my co-workers (we're a pretty tight knit bunch).

Like I said, I don't really like people and I see nothing wrong with that.

11:07 PM, June 06, 2010  
Blogger longrunningfool said...

I don't particularly enjoy a crowd - especially one that has few or no people that I know.

It's not that I don't enjoy people. In my profession, I'm in daily contact with clients and enjoy that contact immensely as I provide them with advice and try to get all their questions answered. It's crowds and noise that I avoid.

My quiet time is in my home office (sound-proofed) or running, preferably trails, the more technical the better. At 8,000 feet on a mountain side during a 30 mile run, I can usually get the solitude I need.

Also a sense of awe and pretty tired legs.

12:00 AM, June 07, 2010  
Blogger pockosmum said...

My son is getting married this weekend, and while I'm looking forward to it, and love his bride, the thought of spending the weekend with lots of people I don't know yet(the bride's family) is making me a bit nervous.

It sounds nutty. Her mother and father are lovely people, I like them and we share a lot of interests and they really love our son, but we don't know each other well due to distance factors. We've never met her sister either, she's flying in from another country a few days before. I'll be meeting the bride's grandparents, aunts and uncles for the first time too. I have no problem meeting people, but this next weekend is going to go over my limit for new people in a short time span. I'm hoping to be able to sneak off occasionally for some air, maybe a trot at the gym or a massage.

I don't want to come of as geeky, stiff or awkward, which seems to be my specialty :-O Wish me luck.

4:27 AM, June 07, 2010  
Blogger Helen said...

Kevin M,

I haven't read "The Highly Sensitive Person" but it sounds like a book I would like. If I can around to it, I will post my thoughts.

Jeff Y,

Thanks for the link--looks like a good book.

5:26 AM, June 07, 2010  
Blogger Locomotive Breath said...

I'm an introvert around uninteresting people. Put me in a room with people who have something to teach me or to whom I can teach in return and I'm good to go.

I hate small talk. I really hate "dial tone people". The ones who talk just to talk because they can't stand the silence. You, know, like a dial tone - line's open but nothing's being said.

I go hiking.

6:59 AM, June 07, 2010  
Blogger Topher said...


That's interesting - when I lived in the Silly Valley, my problem was that nobody wanted to talk. Everyone was too worried about getting their business idea scooped. And the spoiled "daughters of Silicon Valley" phenomenon. And they were boring.

9:05 AM, June 07, 2010  
Blogger Libby said...

I work from a home office across the country from my employer. I avoid most of the office politics (as an introvert, it's definitely not my strong suit)as well as the needless management-type "process" meetings. As a family, we like to spend time hiking, fishing, or road-tripping, and there's no shortage of places in Colorado and the contiguous states to visit. For quiet time, I like to garden - and this way my son can be playing in the yard with me even as we're both focused on different things. Some of our best conversations happen then. And I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who indulges in off-hours shopping - I love to arrive right when a store or mall opens on the weekend. If I'm making a big purchase, I do all of the research beforehand to avoid having to hash out my decision with the salesperson.

11:25 AM, June 07, 2010  
Blogger Unknown said...

I leave crowded rooms frequently and don't get on elevators that are too "full" even if there is I guess I'm introverted.

12:31 PM, June 07, 2010  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

i don`t like parties, don`t like crowds, festivals, rallies or even concerts so much anymore.

i`ve even stopped going to the coffee shop so much lately.

too many annoying people repeating what they just read/saw on the news.

my wife and i walked about seven miles last night to go see a movie (alice in wonderland...speaking of feminist crap) and other than the movie i had a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

we live about 3 1/2 miles from the downtown, and soon the festival season will begin. ribfest, blues and jazz, sound of music.


thousands of bored people jammed into a small area along the lakeshore pretty much every week-end, all summer.

and my wife knows how much i detest these events and will take her daughter and all will be well in the world.

12:53 PM, June 07, 2010  
Blogger jay c said...

I go for a walk or find a secluded place to read a book. Sometimes I read a book while I walk. Bike rides are good too, but reading while biking is dangerous. I know. LOL I used to put my headphones on and play computer games like Civilization.

4:18 PM, June 07, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm real good at dissociation. In fact, it's pretty much my default setting.

10:28 PM, June 07, 2010  
Blogger Retriever said...

I crave my hour a day alone. I walk at the beach around 6am, without an Ipod. Waves, birdsong calm me down.

By this time of year the talking pairs of fitness walkers start to crowd the place, so I head on to the woods where deer trails parallel the human paths. I have several times stood still staring at a deer which, like me, has hurried away from a noisy human. Yes, I check for ticks. But those moments of green stillness a few feet from several frozen wary deer restore me. Then back to the chattering hordes.

12:50 PM, June 08, 2010  
Blogger GawainsGhost said...

There are basically three physical body types: endomorph, mesomorph, ectomorph. So I would assume there are three personality types: introvert, mesovert(?), extrovert.

I can get along with most people fine, but I prefer to keep to myself. Which is a nice way of saying I don't bore myself.

7:14 PM, June 08, 2010  

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