November 15, 2013

thoughts on introversion and the internet...

Recently, I had a bit of a lightbulb moment. I sat down and made a list of things that I feel I need to give up, or step back from. I realized that the reason I find myself so overwhelmed lately is because I'm trying to do too much. Well, it seems that in some ways that is always the case…but what stood out to me was how when I took the time to write it down, much of that too much I've been trying to do has to do with the internet.

The thing is, I'm an introvert. I've always been an introvert. And I've recently been discovering that introversion has less to do with any perceived shyness, but more with where you gain energy. The ways you recharge. What you do to find peace and calm, to feel most like yourself. For me, that has always been time free of busyness and commitments and a full calendar.

For many years, I thought it was a bit of a flaw.

Why don't I love busy weekends? Shouldn't I be more excited when my planner is filled with fun adventures? Everyone else seems to do just fine.

Why do I get stressed out when there are more than two things I have to go and do within the span of a day? Sometimes when I wake up at the beginning of a day filled with activities, I'm already looking forward to coming home and curling up in bed. That can't be normal.

Why does living in the middle of the forest away from all civilization sometimes appeal to me more than anything else in the world? It makes me feel like a hermit, but I can't help it.

I know now that it's just me. It's who I am; it's woven into every piece of my personality. It's nothing I can change. Nor do I really want it to change, now that I'm able to look at it differently.

I'm a homebody, but I'm okay with that. I can easily strike up a conversation with strangers and as a teenager I danced and sang my heart out on stage in front of hundreds of people—I'm not shy, but I prefer quiet, and only like being the center of attention when it's on my own terms. I love get-togethers with close friends and simple outings with my daughter and husband, but if a day is free of any calm, commitment-free moments, I feel all tied in knots.

And when it comes to the internet—a place that used to be an introverts haven—I'm learning that it can overwhelm me in exactly the same ways "real life" does. With the explosion of social media and blogging for profit, the internet has become a hustling, bustling, noisy place. And that's not necessarily a bad thing…it's just worth noting that the whole landscape has changed so much in the past decade I've been blogging. While blogging used to be simply an outlet for my thoughts and other nonsense (and interactions with others were few and far between, always initiated by me), it is now a very different thing.

In some ways, things are better now, but I'm finally taking the time to acknowledge that in many ways it is such a terrible fit for my personality. So much of blogging is about self-promotion (which makes me so incredibly awkward most of the time, and I feel like such an annoyance). It can sometimes be all about social media, marketing, and doing more, more, more.

And you know what all those things have in common? Interactions. Many, many interactions with people. All day long. (Even if I just check social networks and email in the morning, during my daughter's nap, and before bed, that is still an overwhelming amount of socializing.) Twitter, Instagram, email, blogging, on and on. Is it any wonder I find myself so weary of it all when I do try to "keep up with the Joneses", so to speak? I don't think I ever could. I'm not good at what so many people are good at—which is okay, but hard to admit. Especially when I want to do it all. And I even think I could do it sometimes. But it just wouldn't be good for me.

For an introvert, socializing can be draining. When it comes down to it, the internet is all about socialization these days, no matter how you look at it. I absolutely love the internet, but I'm tired of always feeling like I'm at the end of my rope because of all the noise I'm adding to my day. There are sometimes a hundred tiny interactions I have with people throughout the day, and even when they're good things, happy conversations, encouraging words, beautiful photos, inspiring posts…it still drains me.

I don't like how it makes me feel, and how it sometimes doesn't leave much social energy to get through bigger and better things.

I know I'm not alone in this, and for that I am grateful. For a while, I thought I was just a dysfunctional sort of blogger, struggling with these things (especially when it comes to the desire to just go "off the grid" to get away from it all some days).

I've wanted to do more with my blog for a while now, and I've taken steps here and there to do just that. But now? I'm realizing that I could probably never be as fancy as I'd like to be. I need the luxury of stepping away when I need to. I need to be able to disappear from a social network without having to worry about what it will do to my stats or online presence.

I struggle a lot when I know I'm capable of doing something great, but doing it wouldn't be great for me. It feels like a tease. And although I've taken great care in my life to be aware of what I'm meant for, it makes me ask, "But why can't I be meant for that?" I hate when saying no to something gives me that uncomfortable feeling of selling myself short, even when that isn't the reality.

This has been on my heart for the past few days, and it feels good to put into (somewhat scattered) words, at least. I've decided to take a blogging break in December, so I can reevaluate a few things around here. I'm dealing with a bit of tug-of-war within myself…having so much to share, knowing I'm capable of great things…but learning that if it feels like more of a fight than a pleasure, then maybe it's not worth it.

15 comments :

  1. Kerri, I can't tell you how much I can relate to you and your struggles. It feels like you and I have the same personality type... I love blogging and social media, but I also have this constant "drained" feeling with too many interactions, too much noise online. I want it and I don't want it, if you know what I mean.

    I do hope you'll keep blogging, because I enjoy your little corner of the Internet so much... but yes, do it on your own terms, without a schedule, without any pressure.

    xo

    ReplyDelete
  2. Kerri, this may be one of my favorite posts on all of the internet now. Because I so, so get it.

    I entirely loved and identified with the whole thing -- !! -- but I wanted to highlight two lines near the end in particular:

    1. "I need to be able to disappear from a social network without having to worry about what it will do to my stats or online presence."

    I feel this ALL THE TIME. Like, every day. And I hate myself a little bit each time I reflexively open a new tab to check my blog stats, or how many Likes I have on a new post, or whatever. And it is SO refreshing when I'm forced away from the computer for a bit. And then I ask myself, "Why don't you just step away on your own sometimes?" I don't know. Why don't I?

    2. "I struggle a lot when I know I'm capable of doing something great, but doing it wouldn't be great for me."

    This is something I think I felt instinctively for awhile now, but only recently have been able to put into words like that. It isn't necessarily tied to being online, and I don't really know how (or even IF) I'll resolve it. I just know that I struggle with this too, and it feels good to hear someone else say it. Like I'm not alone. Like I've been staring into a mirror and finally see my reflection.

    So thanks for writing all this out, Kerri. And enjoy your time away from the internet in December!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Preeeeeeeeeeach. This is exactly how I feel. There are some days I'm so socially exhausted from the real life that I can barely stand to deal with Twitter, which is my fave, much less anything else.

    I've also been reevaluating a blogging break but the thought of losing stats and traction scares the everything out of me. But I think this might be necessary, especially sooner rather than later. I had thought I'd take my annual sabbatical over next Lent but I may do it in December instead!

    I'm even thinking a whole social media break might be nice. No Twitter, no Instagram, no Facebook, no blogging. Just email, but only when I feel like it. Does this sound crazy? I feel like I would really enjoy the free time it provides me, especially since I have a few life projects I keep putting off because I'm maintaining my online ones.

    ReplyDelete

  4. Hello kindred spirit! Your posts just looking into yourself have been so relateable for me. The pressure on myself to write and promote and socialize so much was draining while I was trying to do it-- in the end a break turned into goodbye to blogging for me and it's been a relief really. Not saying it will be for you, but just saying a break can be so good!

    The part where you say you struggle with knowing you could do so much more but it wouldn't be great for you really resonates with me. Accepting that is hard but part of maturing and being more at peace with who I am

    ReplyDelete
  5. I don't know when you stole my journal, but I feel like you could have lifted parts of this right out of it. Oh, how I feel the same. Un-shy introverts unite :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. I know your pain! I waste so much time checking social networks, so gradually uninstalling the apps to try and do more real life living.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I think, as you mentioned, a lot of introverts drift toward blogging because it's a way for us to express our emotions, adventures, and daily lives in a place that feels nurturing rather than draining. I have a similar post about my own introversion lingering in the "drafts" folder, and this may have been the push I needed to finish it. I hope you find what you're looking for during your break -- but, for the record, I think you are a fabulous blogger (never leave!)
    xx Abby | a geek tragedy

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yup. This. I blog when I feel like it, I still have a blogger blog because if I fancy it up I'll feel like I have to Be More Professional about blogging, and sometimes I just have a month of because although I love social media, when life is overwhelming it's the thing I find easiest to drop, and that tells me something.

    I hope your break allows you time to recharge, and that you find clarity. xxx

    ReplyDelete
  9. I feel like I have to have a web presence for my photography business, so I feel ya sister.

    I love the personal expression and connections that social media allows, but it definitely takes effort to use it in a way that is meaningful and not draining. For me it has helped to make all those social updates less automatic. For instance, I hid the bookmarks bar on my browser so I wouldn't find myself clicking things open a million times a day just out of compulsion. I also took all social apps (and ANY apps that show those little notifications) off the front screen of my phone. I actually took email off my phone altogether and only check it once a day now instead of just letting it stay open. Otherwise it's just too much noise, like you were saying!

    I think it means you actually ARE meant for greatness, though. Really! I don't think scaling back is a sign you're not cut out for big things - I think it's a necessary step to getting anything done! Haha.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This post really resonated with me. I think that blogging has changed so much in the last few years - there is so much hype and everyone is encouraged to be a brand and and and. There is a million ands. I started blogging in 2007. Blogging today is NOTHING like it was in 2007. I love blogging because it's where I work out my crazies but lately it just feels a bit off. Like I'm doing it wrong because the number of comments I receive has been on a steady decline for years. Or because I don't have klout or whatever the latest measure of social IMPACT is.
    I'm way too tired to form a coherent thought and I fear I've entered ramble territory so I'll just say this: I enjoy your blog. I'd be bummed if you disappeared forever but I totally understand the need to take a break from your online presence. I hope you find your perfect balance :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. I've been taking more time away from social media and it always feel great. Sometimes it just happens, like when we go visit with family and I don't have the time (nor want) to play catch up. It's refreshing!

    I'm on the cusp of being introverted vs extroverted. I maintain that I'm still just a little bit more extroverted, but I definitely get cranky without downtime.

    ReplyDelete
  12. We chatted on twitter a bit about this, so I think you know my stance. :) But I feel like I have come to this realization that I want to be able to choose my internet presence. If I have ads or sponsored posts, I can't do that. And yeah, I won't make any money, but that's the cost of being on the internet on my terms, you know? You choose. Even if you choose to have ads or whatever. It's up to YOU.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I hate what the internet has become. You don't need to do "more" with your blog. Your words and your pretty pictures are really honestly enough. I no longer strive for internet popularity. It's too much work.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Too true... I get dreadful FOMO if I don't have a busy weekend, or don't check my email, but sometimes it's important to do nothing and get some space :)

    http://musingsofanoxbridgegirl.blogspot.co.uk/

    xx

    ReplyDelete
  15. Another kindred spirit here. :) Thanks for organizing these thoughts and putting it all down. I've always known I was an introvert, but couldn't figure out how having an online presence could be draining. Now it all clicks-- because it is still social interactions! Duh!

    I love blogging and commenting and connecting with other bloggers. But I do have to limit it to small doses. Just like in real life.

    Again, thanks for making this so clear. It was a great a-ha for me.

    ReplyDelete

Thoughts? Questions? General musings? Do share!

If you are asking a question, I will respond here within the comments—so, be sure to click that handy little "notify me" box below to know when I've replied!