Navigating Intentional Community As An Introvert

My sister recently shared an author with me named Susan Cain, who wrote the book Quiet and and is an advocate for introverts in a seemingly “communication crazy” world.

I watched her TEDtalk recently, and it really spoke to me in a time I now call “Victoria’s Great Episodic Introversion Explosion.”

But let me not get ahead of myself. You see, Daniel and I live in what is, for all intents and purposes, an intentional community. You will find as many explanations for this term as there are people who participate in them. For me, it is a group of people living in or on a shared space, pursuing the same goal.

It could also be alternatively titled “People All Up in My Grill.”

We’ve lived communally for over a year as a married couple, and I’ve lived communally for six years prior to that. But most recently, in the last year, the two situations we’ve lived in have been truly communal.

The first, was with our dear friends and their baby. We shared a house, we ate together, we helped her while she was in labor with her baby, no big deal. Very dear friends of ours who understood our little idiosyncrasies.

This situation, we’re living on shared land with our bosses, our boss’s dad, our boss’s dad’s wife, our boss’s brother, us, a boy intern, and a girl intern.

Yes, you read that correctly.

This means that at any given moment, Someone is around Doing Something.

It also means Someone is around Doing Something and Requiring Conversation.

See, it’s not like when we lived with our friends. They know me. They’ve got my number. They know there is a point that I reach where I JUST CANNOT ANYMORE. And I go upstairs and I hide, and like twenty minutes later I come down for dinner shiny and new as a whistle. But this situation is different, because these people don’t know me as well, aside from girl intern who is a blessed saint, and Daniel, who is also a blessed saint.

So the Someone around Doing Something and Requiring Conversation gets pretty terrible for an extreme introvert. I haven’t totally figured out how to deal with it. My past methodology is as follows.

Coping Mechanisms

Option A: Grunt N Nod. This is for the extreme talkers that live here that don’t require much response. I used to respond verbally, but now I just nod my head a lot or say “Mmm.” This is okay, but still is a lot of external stimuli.

Option B: Do not leave Camper. This would work, except for the entire camper is Mauve. And like, I have to eat dinner and do laundry in the shared house.

Option C: Deal-With-It. Cover up the introversion creeping, and just engage! YES! SO MUCH TO TALK ABOUT SO MANY PEOPLE TO LOOK AT! This results in irritability and rage.

Remember up there, I talked about my Great Episodic Introversion Explosion? Yes well, because I was trying a combination of all the methods above, and uh, it all hit the fan.

See, my mom was in town. And she and my husband and I were watching a movie, so the opening menu was on the screen. Loud. And we couldn’t find the remote to turn it down. And Daniel wouldn’t move his legs. And I just had enough. So help me, I raced to my bed, slammed the screen shut, covered my head with my pillow and jammed my fingers in my ears and started HUMMING to myself so I could block it all out.

Did I mention I turned 25 recently? And like, they let me teach children?

Needless to say, I had an epiphany that I was not providing myself with enough alone time. So, my new action plan:

  1. Long walks in the woods when others are around that I don’t want to talk to. Bring a chair. Read.
  2. Avoiding shared space if possible (when I’m feeling really introverty). This means waiting a day to do laundry sometimes and Getting Over Myself about it.
  3. Gracefully excuse myself from conversations if possible without hurting others’ feelings.
  4. Headphones, even if they’re not playing music. Works wonders.

And, if all else fails, the Grunt N’ Nod is a good standby.

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7 thoughts on “Navigating Intentional Community As An Introvert

  1. This makes me so happy. Read her book and you’ll believe in your introversion even more. Until then: Embrace the temperament you have! Take time to recharge! Grunt ‘n nod!

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  2. I feel like I’ve lived this exact explosion you’re describing. I’m still trying to figure out how to read my energy levels, communicate my need for alone time to Matt and others and not sound like a jerk. It doesn’t help that he thinks I’m a “pretend introvert” because he seems to buy into the lie that introverts = awkward people who hate people.

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    1. Yes! I am too learning this whole thing. I really don’t know how at all. Let’s navigate together. I want to read the book Susan Cain wrote!

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  3. i like it when you post! 🙂

    checking out your email subscription plugin here. Researching them myself and still trying to find one I like.

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