I am walking down the street; engrossed in a conversation with a person I enjoy having discussions with: myself. My eldest is at school, my other children at daycare. I am reveling in my free time and am asking myself what I should make for dinner. I am also very focused on not tripping over my feet. Both activities, having discussions with myself and not tripping over my feet are very important to me.

But the guy doesn’t care about all that. He doesn’t care about the fact that this is the only me-time I’ll get that day and that I will try to squeeze as much time for me as possible. He doesn’t know that talking to people drains me of energy. He’s just doing his job, he’s trying to sell me something. And that’s OK. But he’s trying to talk to me and at that moment, I don’t want him to talk to me.

What’s more, he wants me to smile at him! “A smile, maybe?”- he says to me, while I try to concentrate on my last thought, but it is gone, the man on the street has made it disappear. What remains is the feeling of being somehow taken advantage of. I don’t smile at him, I just continue walking and when I arrive at the store and do my shopping, I forget half of the ingredients.

It’s not that I am arrogant. I am actually nice. Sometimes, I am too nice. I know the man on the street is a good person who is trying to do his job, and it must be hard to talk to people on the street like that. But my brainspace is limited and it can only take a certain number of people a day. No, I am not stupid, either. I am very brainy and clever. But I find talking to people exhausting.

Just because I don’t smile, it doesn’t mean that I am unhappy. It just means that I am thinking about something that I consider important. It means that I am trying to find some space for myself in a public place. It means that I am thinking hard about what to say to the person behind the counter when I do my shopping. Or I am smiling a secret smile just for myself.

There are days when I can acknowledge people and nod and smile and be very kind and polite. There are days when I can manage a social event and have fun. There are days when I enjoy having conversations with other people.

But on days like this one, I wish I had had a sign that says: “I am an introvert, leave me alone!”

Olga Mecking
Author

Olga is a Polish woman, living in the Netherlands with her German husband and three children. On her blog, she writes about the challenges and wonders of the expat life, but on BLUNTmoms, you will read her musings on parenting, people and life in general.

11 Comments

  1. Tara Wilson

    Fellow introvert here! I find my phone to be an excellent shield from unsolicited chatters.

    • Olga Mecking

      Thanks for the comment, Tara! Love your idea, I just got a new phone- and now I see I also found a new way to use it!

  2. Pam

    I’m the opposite – TOTAL extrovert that will talk to anyone & everyone. I bet I could make you smile, though 😉

    • Olga Mecking

      Pamela, I am already smiling just reading your comment! It’s not that I don’t smile, in fact I smile a lot, but sometimes I just don’t want to be talked to not to even mention smiling at somebody.I also tend to keep my best smiles for my husband, children and friends!

  3. I am an extrovert but there are moments when I just don’t want anyone to bother me. I don’t really have tips, I just go in my head somewhere far far away and daydream!

    • Olga Mecking

      Varya, I love daydreaming as well! I have some more survival strategies but it’s always nice if I don’t have to use them!

  4. Thank you for putting into words what I have felt all these years. I have always felt terrible about being “rude” without meaning to be.

    • Olga Mecking

      Thank you, Nolene for your comment. I am glad that somebody understands this. Fear if being rude is a common introvert fear! On one hand, I think that most people understand this because there are many more introverts than we think. And then, I think sometimes we need to think of ourselves and now about how people see us.

  5. Pingback: I Am an Introvert, Leave Me Alone! | Omaha Sun Times

  6. So many times I am walking around and some stranger tells me to smile or says to me “it’s not that bad.” I even had an employee say something to me one day about smiling and I explained I was thinking. He tried to tell me I shouldn’t be thinking about things that don’t make me smile (or something to that effect). Being an introvert, I wasn’t into sharing, but I wanted to tell him to let me know if he wants to smile while his mother dies of cancer. Really irritated me.

  7. Introvert here as well! I just wrote a post on ‘Are introverts misunderstood’ if you fancy a read.

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