It is a stressful day at work. You just had a board meeting and then a client just came in to clarify matters with you. You asked for a five-minute break and rushed to the bath room. There in one of the cubicles, you finally felt at ease, even just for five minutes. Who would have thought that a toilet cubicle could calm you down?
If you can relate to this one, then you probably are an introvert. Susan Cain, the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts, even said, “Taking shelter in bathrooms is a surprisingly calming phenomenon as you probably know if you’re an introvert.”
As discussed in my first blog entry, Stop the discrimination of introverts, being one of those possessing this personality type means being highly-reactive to anything and everything around you. This means that we, introverts react to the littlest sound of an opening door. We react to the faintest smell of hot tea. We react on the slightest roughness of the fabric on our favorite pillow.
Having said all of these, how does an introvert react in an environment full of external stimuli? Such places may include the workplace, a classroom, a board room, or even worse, a convention hall wherein an introvert is about to deliver a speech. No, introverts don’t just collapse in such circumstances. What happens is that they simply exert more effort just to hide the bombarding reactions in their systems, so as to portray calmness towards the world.
This portrayal of a fake “calmness” is actually a coping mechanism for introverts. Cain added in her book, “Introverts are capable of acting like extroverts for the sake of work they consider important, people they love or anything they value highly.”
Eventually, this fake calmness and acting-like-extroverts practice lead to false personas that introverts tend to wear in public.
And all of these things cause mental exhaustion to introverts. Normally, an introvert recharges by just being alone again. This is the reason why bathroom cubicles calm us down. The five-minute stay in cubicles can already be considered “me time,” or simply the time when we all recharge.
But sometimes, especially when an introvert is working in a very extroverted environment (media-related jobs, teaching, etc.), a five-minute break inside the toilet cubicle may not be enough. Depending on the amount of energy exerted, an introvert may need more “me time” or “alone time” just to be able to recharge his or herself. And when work schedules tend to be so hectic, an introvert may not be able to recharge enough, to be ready for the next effort-exerting and fake-persona-wearing scenario.
And when not attended to, this extreme mental exhaustion may lead to this so-called psychological burnout. And this could be the worst thing that can happen to introverts whose passion is on extroverted activities.
I will reserve the discussion about burn out on my next blog entry.
So just a friendly reminder, introverts, never forget to recharge.