I have a confession to make.
If I have cancelled plans with you in the past, it’s very likely that I have lied to you at least once.
Please don’t be offended. It really isn’t you; it’s me.
Most people know by now that I’m an introvert, which means that interacting with people drains my energy. Every week I spend 40 hours in solid interaction, thanks to our open-plan office, so I face every evening with seriously reduced energy. If it’s been a particularly busy, stressful, or people-full day, if I’m ill or didn’t get enough sleep the night before, I’m left with even less energy to play with.
Before any social event, I calculate how much energy it’s likely to use and subtract that from the amount I feel I have. Considering how much is used up by my job, it often works out that the event would take more energy than I can give. So I (usually) won’t go.
Fairly straightforward, right? The problem is I would never tell people that. I tell them I’m ill, or have a headache, or pulled a muscle, or have too much to do, or have to wait at home for something, or anything at all except the real reason.
But recently I’ve realised how harmful this can be.
I’m not ashamed of being an introvert. It’s a part of who I am, just as my stubbornness and brown hair are parts of who I am. But making up excuses, instead of just admitting I need some introvert-time, suggests that it’s something I need to hide. That lying is better than admitting my energy sometimes runs out.
Plus it’s kind of harsh on my friends. I’m basically assuming they don’t have the empathy or compassion to accept me saying, “I can’t come because this part of me needs some care right now”. Then fobbing them off with lies.
To every friend I have ever done this to (I confess, it’s probably every last one of you), I’m really sorry. I’ll say it again – it’s not you; it’s me. Or rather, it was me. Because I’m putting a stop to it right now.
From now on, if I’m too low on energy to meet up with you then I will say so. Please don’t take it personally; literally everyone drains my energy to some degree.
This also means if I say I’m ill/have a headache/etc then it will actually be true. For reals this time.
I also extend this offer to all my introvert friends: if you don’t have the energy to spend time with me then please just say so. It’s not an excuse, it’s a valid reason, and I accept it with no attempts to change your mind and no hurt feelings on my part.
Introversion is not a shameful secret that needs to be hidden, and my friends deserve better than half-truths and excuses, so that’s what they’re going to get. Starting now.