Telling My Family I Need Alone Time

I’m getting better at communicating my needs. Last week I was with my family on a vacation in Mexico – my first family trip in 2 years. I’m used to traveling alone, living alone, and being on my own most of the time. I love my family AND my introverted self was worried about being around people non-stop for 5 days.

Our flight was at 6am and the Uber picked us up at 3:30am to head to the airport. I didn’t get much sleep; I was grumpy and grumbling one word responses when anyone tried to talk to me. By the time we arrived in Mexico, I was exhausted and craved alone time.

On the first night after dinner, I didn’t join in and play charades, our family’s favorite game. Instead, I slinked off to bed and mumbled “Sorry, gotta go, good night.” I felt like a rude brat for getting up and practically running away. My inner critic went off on a rant, “You’re acting like a b*&ch, stop being so grumpy, etc., etc..” Ugg, I  could not spend the rest of my vacation feeling guilty for taking care of myself.

The next morning, after a full night’s rest, I rejoined my family at the breakfast table. As everyone began eating, I clinked a fork against my juice glass and said, “I have a family announcement.”

I glanced around the table, then directly at Courtney, my sister-in-law, and Brian, my sister’s boyfriend. I announced, “For those of you new to the family, and those who have known me my whole life, I’d like to let you know I’m an introvert and need A LOT of alone time. When I leave meals early or don’t stay up late to play family games, please don’t take it personally. I get drained being around people constantly and I recharge by being alone. So when you see me leaving early, I’m not trying to be rude, I need to recharge my energy. Then I can come back in a great place and hang out with you guys, which I really want to do on this trip.”

As I spoke my voice was a bit shaky, a clear indicator I’m acting courageously by being vulnerable and sharing something personal. In spite of fearing how I might be perceived, my intuition said I MUST SPEAK UP or my vacation would be miserable.

After my family announcement, everyone at the table thanked me. The conversation opened up to who else was an introvert. The extroverts spoke up first. My brother, Hunter, shared he needs a day of chill time after about 4 months of non-stop activity and being around people. Brian said he loves being around people and is an extrovert all the way. Then everyone looked at my dad, an off the charts extrovert, who thrives in social settings and is happiest when talking with people….he smiled and concurred.

As we continued around the table, I asked my mom is she is an extrovert or introvert. She shared a prime example of when we were growing up and she was raising 4 kids, she recharged her energy by getting out of the house and teaching English and Drama to high school students. Definitely an extrovert.

My sister, Jaden, chimed in and said after her bartender shift, she turns down the offer to stay and have a drink with her co-workers. She prefers to go home, be alone, and recharge by watching movies on the couch with her dog. She’s an introvert.

I shared that I recharge by being in nature, journaling, reading and taking long walks on the beach…alone! Then, after my solitude fix, I can enjoy long walks on the beach with others.

I felt proud of myself for speaking up. In turn, it opened up a new conversation in the family and opportunity for us to understand each other better.

Later that night, I stayed after dinner and played charades with my family. I had fun and did NOT feel guilty or criticize myself for leaving after 20 minutes of game time. It was a great combo of being with my family and honoring my introvert. When my energy started to plummet, I left gracefully, without apology, and headed to bed.

No one questioned or judged me. Most importantly, I didn’t judge me.

How do you recharge your energy? By being alone or with others? Being an introvert or extrovert is similar to being right or left handed; it’s how you’re wired.

Are you an introvert or extrovert? I’d love to hear, share in the comments below.

Knowing what you need is empowering; communicating what you need is liberating.

Devon

12 replies
  1. MELINDA
    MELINDA says:

    DEVON, THAT IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE STORIES OF YOUR TRIUMPHS. YOU ARE AN INSPIRATION FOR SPEAKING UP AND HONORING YOURSELF WITH SUCH COURAGE. I CAN RELATE THAT MANY PEOPLE REALLY DON’T UNDERSTAND INTROVERSION. I HAVE FRIENDS WITH SEEMINGLY BOUNDLESS ENERGY TO KEEP GOING WITH OTHERS AND I CAN ONLY SCHEDULE A FEW “PEOPLE” ACTIVITIES A WEEK ONLY PART OF A DAY AT THAT. THANK YOU FOR SHARING AND WHAT A GIFT FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.

    Reply
    • Devon
      Devon says:

      I appreciate your comment, Melinda. It’s true that not many people understand introversion…I certainly didn’t until I went through a personal development course and realized ahhh! No wonder I need so much time alone, this explains a LOT 🙂 I love your self awareness and that you can “only schedule a few “people” activities a week.” I hear you! Thanks for being YOU.

      Reply
  2. Kim Dove
    Kim Dove says:

    Wow, what a breath of fresh air to read this validation! I too am an introvert & proud of it! I did feel this way until I learned to honor myself, then I realizedthat I had been trying to validate myself my entire life but met with hostility, anger & shame that others tried to put on me! Being alone in nature is like the air that I am blessed to breathe. I must have this alone time to give gratitude to Mother Nature, God & who I am growing to be. This is intuition to me & allows me to manifest on so many levels.
    Learning to be authentic was my biggest gift of 2019 thanks to you Devon for awakening my soul & giving me praise for the journey!😘💞🌺

    Reply
    • Devon
      Devon says:

      Kim, I love that you are a proud introvert and know what you need to thrive and continue on your personal growth journey. We definitely share “being alone in nature” as a top priority. You share beautifully about realizing that you had been trying to validate yourself in the past, and now you honor yourself…that is incredible growth and huge strides forward. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and experience….it’s an honor to be part of your journey. xoxo

      Reply
  3. Heather kirby
    Heather kirby says:

    Devon,
    Thanks for this post! I truly believe understanding temperament is one of the best ways to improve our relationship with ourselves and others.
    As you know, I am a high extrovert. And it serves me well. But I have a lot of precious people in my life who are more introverted. My sister, several close friends, and my wife are all more introverted than I. I have learned to appreciate their need for alone time… to wait a bit to give them time to process and answer or chime into a conversation…. to pause a conversation and ask directly for their input, knowing they have something valuable to say and are unlikely to interrupt to contribute… and to NOT take it personally when they turn down an invitation to do something with me, but recognize and honor that they are simply applying self-awareness and self-care. I’ve also learned that just because I prefer time with others, doesn’t mean I am “hyper”, “avoiding being with my thoughts” or “can never relax”. And by communicating with those close to me about temperament, I’ve learned not to feel badly about my need for interaction and engagement. Understanding temperament helps us all understand and appreciate each other.

    Reply
    • Devon
      Devon says:

      Hi Heather, thanks for sharing about your experience as an extrovert and the importance of understanding temperament. I love the specific examples and tools you wrote about for how you are with introverts …wonderful advice for all of us. I’m grateful to have you in my life as an extroverted friend!

      Reply
  4. Jan Willis
    Jan Willis says:

    Often it is difficult to sit quietly and reflect when the world around you is spinning with extroverted people who are magnificently comfortable in their type A worlds. It is imperative, however, for those of us who are naturally introverted to step back and embrace our solitude so that we can regenerate and energize our souls. To take a moment to regroup and to breathe in the vastness of Mother Earth and her beauty takes us to a place within where our world makes more sense and we can express ourselves in a more sensitive, creative manner. When I was younger I always thought being extroverted was how one achieved success in the world, which for an extrovert is the perfect way. For me it never felt right, I always wanted to retreat and resolve my issues internally. I always wanted to express myself in other ways, through my attempts at being creative, an artist, a teacher, a writer. As hard as I try to force myself to be “out there” I always felt more “out there” when I would take a moment to be by myself in nature talking to the trees, taking a walk, or simply sitting quietly alone breathing in the quiet. Animals and nature have always been a safe place for me to fall. They have always awakened my spirit, never judging only supporting. Wherever, as an introvert we find respite is the very place we must take ourselves to rejuvenate, recharge, and realign ourselves with our essential true nature. Then as an introvert we can stand tall in a more extroverted manner expressing ourselves more openly, comfortably and expressively.

    Reply
    • Devon
      Devon says:

      Jan, thank you for beautifully articulating your experience as an introvert. I know many can relate with what you shared. I really resonate with the “Animals and nature being a safe place for me to fall…”Love how you honor extroverts and their gifts, and wisely advise how introverts can express ourselves. Much love to you, fellow introvert!

      Reply
  5. Amy
    Amy says:

    Thank you for sharing this story, Devon! I am in the middle – sometimes supercharged by people interactions, and other times craving my alone time in the woods. Understanding our energy is probably the most important component of our relationships. I wonder how this introvert/extrovert conversation would work in my family…

    Reply
    • Devon
      Devon says:

      Thanks for sharing, Amy! That’s powerful self-awareness that you are in the “middle” and knowing what you need and when. Definitely agree how understanding energy is a key component in relationships. I invite you to bring up the introvert/extrovert convo in your family and see what happens.

      Reply
  6. kathleen
    kathleen says:

    I’m grateful for those extroverts in the world who are safe to be with. I grew up in an environment hostile to introversion, it being interpreted as ‘unfriendly”, so molded to feeling a lot of shame and non acceptance from being “the quiet one”. I felt able to take a relaxing breath at reading the comments from some of the extroverts. Self assertion is something I’ve had to learn the hard way, but it’s been with the help of some really compassionate extroverts. I love and appreciate the balance of both in this conversation.
    So…thanks to ALL of you!!!! And lots of love, too, to Devon for bringing the subject up.

    Reply
    • Devon
      Devon says:

      Kathleen, I love what you shared about learning self assertion with the help of compassionate extroverts. Thank you for your honesty and openness in sharing your experience being an introvert. Your story is a gift to all of us. Lots of love right back to you!

      Reply

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