"Silence is the true friend that never betrays." ~Confucius
Silence by Sunshine Fine Art Photography
Extroverted individuals make up as much as 80% of the population and our society is built around that fact, so what happens to the introverted minority? I can tell you, because I am one such minority: people don't understand your preferences and try to talk you out of them (as if it's that simple). The fact is, I need regular doses of silence and time alone, and always have. Growing up, no one understood that I was perfectly content playing in my room by myself....there must have been something wrong with me, right? And, as an adult, people often assume I am lonely or anti-social when I glut myself on silence and empty rooms. But, as Thoreau put it: "I have never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude."
Meeting my husband, Alex, was interesting, because we have spent the vast majority of our time together ever since the day we went on our first date (minus the first 4 months that we lived 3,000 miles apart). Alex is a high school English teacher at a private school, which means he comes home early and gets somewhere around 16 weeks off of work every year.....so, we have a lot of time to spend together. For the most part, I feel like I have found the one human being that I can be around and feel almost as if I would in my own easy company. But......I am still an introvert and Alex is definitely a raging extrovert. He's independent and loves his solo projects, but he needs interaction, constant noise and conversation all the time in order to feel alive and energized. I need the opposite.
Silence Is by The Photo Zoo
We (miraculously) haven't encountered too many times where our opposite needs clash, but yesterday we surely did. I had been in great need of some silence and time alone for days, and wasn't able to get it. I tried to gently request that Alex not talk to me for a given number of minutes, or until I finished X or Y, but after a few days of this (failing) strategy, my restlessness and extreme irritability took over. And, by the hand of god, Alex agreed to an entire day of silence.....finally! He has always told me that he could not be silent or ignore me (at my request), because he can't change the fact that he is constantly talking, singing, whistling or vying for my attention. But, my insane introverted needs bubbled over to a degree that I was....well, scary to be around. I felt so depleted, exhausted, annoyed and impossible; and quite honestly, I became mean.
Shh! Print by the Big Harumph
I spent the whole day with my mouth shut and my attention focused on myself. And, by the time we climbed in bed last night I felt more appreciative of my husband than ever, because he had given me something I so desperately need; something that coincidentally he thought he was completely incapable of giving me. I think it was the promise of me being a much better wife after not uttering a sound for over 12 hours that pushed him to try.
Most people may not understand the need for complete silence and no interaction, but I am lucky to have (at least) one person who can respect my needs even if he doesn't understand them.