Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Socialization Habit

I am an introvert. As most people in these enlightened times know, introverts feel refreshed after periods alone and extroverts feel refreshed after times with others. This seems to be the only consistent attribute for either designation. Someone who is shy may be an extrovert. They may just have trouble warming up to others. They may just be limited in social skills. They may have a disorder that makes it difficult to interact, but they still might crave that interaction, even need it.

On the other hand, introverts do like some social interaction. They may even like large, boisterous, noisy groups on occasion. (I fall into that group!) They just need recovery afterwards. True introverts often feel exhausted after any type of social experience.

One of the problems with being an introvert is that it is easy to fall out of the socialization habit. I truly feel complete when I am alone, so it often doesn't seem worth the effort to socialize. The longer I go without socializing, the easier it is to just say no.

This is compounded due to the difficulties that my autistic wall places between me and others. I strive for intimacy in all social interactions. Surface conversations are never worth it. Unfortunately, others often don't want to quickly develop intimacy. We live in a society full of mistrust.

So, I limit social interactions, except with those who I trust at a deep level. Those are few. I have always done this. I use to go out of my way to invent games to limit how often I played with my sister and brother when I was little. It wasn't that I didn't like playing games with them on occasion; it was that I tended to get tired of playing with them before they got tired of playing with me. I would rather read or go for a walk or draw or write or organize thoughts in my head or think about philosophical topics.

It is funny because although I have more social skills than I did when I was younger, even when I was in my 20s, I feel like I am losing a few as I age. It is easy to regress at this stage in my life. It is like my mind doesn't want to bother playing the game at all. Unfortunately, I do enjoy the occasion, large, boisterous group full of deep conversations, laughter and play.

I know I need to avoid falling out of the habit of socialization. I need to say yes when no is the easy answer. I need to keep giving myself the opportunity to build intimacy, breaking down walls between me and others.

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