Monday, March 13, 2017

Challenge: 17 Ways Being An Introvert Is Different In Your 30s Than in Your 20s

I would like to start a weekly segment where I find articles (usually in list form) about one thing or another that's relevant to me and then challenge them, bullet point by bullet point. And the point of this is to show that we can't all be painted with the same broad strokes and that all of our lived experiences can paint radically different pictures than might be generalized.

So this week's article is:

17 Ways Being An Introvert Is Different In Your 30s Than in Your 20s

Follow this link to read the article yourself! It was posted on Thought Catalog recently by Jenn Granneman, author of the upcoming book The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World. Her assertion is that people's lives drastically change from 20 to 30 and that how our introversion manifests will change as well. Okay, sounds fair. Lets see how it stacks up against my personal experience now.

1. In your 30s, you don’t feel as much pressure to live up to the “extrovert ideal.” You just don’t care as much about what other people think of you. You’re generally okay with having a quiet personality and living a calm, introverted life.
~I was okay with this when I was 17. I was perfectly okay with this when I was 25. This hasn't changed for me at all. I never really felt pressured to live up to an "extrovert ideal" - even when I did have my youthful heyday of wild friends and parties - attending didn't mean I was altering my default behavior in any way...
2. Because you don’t care as much about other people’s opinions, you also feel less guilt when you leave a party early or don’t go in the first place. If people judge you for needing time alone to recharge, that’s on them, not you.
~ I never felt guilty leaving a party early. I never felt I had to make up excuses not to go to something either. If I wasn't up for it, that was that. 
3. You understand yourself better because you’ve lived with your brain and body for three decades. You know what your limits are, but you also know it’s healthy to occasionally push yourself beyond your comfort zone. You know what kinds of social situations drain you (big groups and small talk), but you also know what energizes you (close friends and meaningful conversation). You purposefully seek out the kinds of socializing that leave you feeling good afterward.
~ Does the author not realize that your body tends to go through some pretty intense changes as you transition from your 20's to 30's? Like, suddenly we can't eat a whole bag of chips without gaining an extra five pounds. Sure, I've lived in my body and dealt with my brain chemistry for 30 years, but that doesn't mean those things aren't always in flux and a struggle to understand...
4. In your 20s, you were the weird one if you didn’t party. In your 30s, you and a lot of your peers have time-intensive careers, families, and other obligations, so it’s completely normal to be too busy to blow a whole weekend drinking with friends.
~ Not really. I didn't really hang out with people that were party-animals. None of us really partied hard and that was fine. And the ones who did definitely have jobs and families that keep them from hanging out all the time...which is fine because it means fewer social obligations I'd have to attend!
5. You have just 1-3 good friends, and that’s how you like it. You feel a lot less pressure to hang out with people just to pass the time or because it’s expected of you. Plus, you’re choosier about who you let into your inner circle. If a friendship is not fulfilling, you figure it’s not worth your time.
~ I had 1-3 friends, period, for most of my life. Nothing new there.
6. You’re better at explaining your need for alone time. As a result, your family and friends don’t get as offended as they did in your 20s when you say you need time to yourself. On some level, they’ve come to accept that this is just who you are.
~ I've been calling myself an introvert since high school. That was 2006, people. It's 2017 now and people STILL don't know what that actually means. So yes, I still have to explain to my coworkers why I'm perfectly content to spend my whole weekend at home even though I'm not sick...
7. You don’t push your limits for socializing as much as you used to. That’s because, in your 20s, you had more time and leeway. If you stayed out late, socialized too much, and got an introvert hangover, you could make up for it by sleeping late and spending the rest of the weekend alone. You can’t get away with that now, because you have more obligations.
~ It's the reverse for me. I had NO free time or leeway in my 20's - I spent that period of time dealing with college, family issues, and abusive relationships. Now I have more leeway in life, because my life is finally mine. And I am definitely pushing my social limitations - my job requires me to anyways.
8. If you have young children, you find that they can actually be helpful in social situations. People often want to talk about your baby, for example, instead of what’s going on with you — and that takes the pressure off you to make conversation. Plus, you always have an excuse to leave the get-together early — it’s your kid’s bedtime! Or you have to relieve the babysitter!
~ Can't relate. I don't have children, don't want children, and I certainly wouldn't want to share intimate details about my small child with other people. Like, mind your own effing business! 
9. However, if you have kids and/or a committed, live-in relationship, the downside is you don’t get as much alone time as you did in your 20s. Someone always seems to need you.
~ Living with my partner gives me a LOT more alone time than living in a family home with people around all the time. Since our work schedules are different, I get the whole afternoon after work to myself. Which is wonderful. 
10. In your 30s, you have an easier time saying no to social invitations, because you’ve come to realize that you can’t do it all. You don’t have the seemingly endless time and energy you had in your 20s.
~ I didn't have endless time or energy in my 20's. I'm still saying no to social invites at the same rate, but these days I might actually be more inclined to say yes once in a while.
11. A decade ago, being an introvert wasn’t a thing. You were considered strange, anti-social, or weird for being the quiet one. Now that the “introvert positive” movement is here, there’s a term for what used to make you feel like the weird one — “introvert.” Say what you will about labels, but that little label may have changed your life; it means you’re not broken and there are other people out there like you.
~ Even with the rise in popularity of the word "introvert" most people STILL associate it with being anti-social, quiet, or depressed. And to be honest, being a quiet and withdrawn person never made me feel weird. 
12. On the downside, in your 30s, finding and keeping friends is harder (hey, introverts get lonely and need strong connections, too). You and your college friends have probably drifted apart (for better or worse). It’s really hard to find new friends because you’re not surrounded by people your age like you were in your 20s. Plus, everyone is just busier now, so even when you meet someone new, it’s harder to make time for them. Friendship is seen as a luxury, not a necessity.
~ I never made college friends. I barely made high school friends. I was in my mid-twenties when I went to college, so I was surrounded by people typically YOUNGER than me and that was hard. Now that I'm a bit older and in the workforce regularly, I'm finally surrounded by people more my age but it's still hard to connect to them because our lives are so very different - a lot of them have kids or marriages to keep them busy. I don't.
13. Your social skills are A LOT better. You can make small talk with strangers when you have to, and generally, you’re more confident. That’s because you’ve probably been in the work world for about a decade now. Being a professional forced you to learn how to deal with people better (even if you still don’t want to).
~ I haven't been in the work world for a decade. I'm really just getting started - mental illness, poverty, relationship abuse, etc kept me out of the work force for a long time. So my social skills are definitely still rusty. And I'm not confident. 
14. You’re less timid and you speak your mind more, because hey, why not? In your 20s, it seemed like you had your whole life ahead of you, but in your 30s, a few gray hairs (or a lack of hair) reminds you that life is short.
~ Only on the internet. Mental abuse has long-standing effects in that you never really feel comfortable speaking up for yourself. I can be very timid and am overstimulated easily - I hate confrontation and getting scolded by my boss makes me need to excuse myself to the restroom to cry about what a piece of shit I am. 
15. It’s easier to explain your needs in a romantic relationship. In your 20s, you may have felt that you had to go to every party or event with your significant other. Now you can confidently say it’s not your thing and leave it at that.
~ I wish this was the case, but for my past two relationships, I was given very little choice or say in these matters. I had to attend this thing, whether I wanted to or not. I had to have dinner with the family, whether I wanted to or not. Sometimes it's still really hard for me to speak up and say no to something my partner suggests. 
16. You’ve probably started paying more attention to your health because you recognize that your body isn’t as indestructible as it seemed in your 20s. This includes being quick to realize when you’re approaching social burnout and you need time alone.
~ I've never been indestructible. I've always had chronic pain, muscle tension, low energy, and arthritis. I used to have the energy to at least go for walks or do some yoga back then, though. Not anymore.
17. Speaking of indestructible — your body can’t bounce back from drinking and partying as well as it did in your 20s. Hangovers are so much worse. This is just one more reason to stay in tonight. 
~ I didn't drink in my 20's. It was highly discouraged and around some people, not even allowed. I'm a regular drinker now - functioning alcoholic. I don't get hangovers, I don't binge drink. I just keep a steady stream of beer flowing, much like a saline drip. Keeps my stress levels down and my blood thin - so excuse me while I leave early tonight to hit the bar. 

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