I remember it so clearly; I was 20 years old and home from college for the summer. I was back to working my seasonal job as an ice cream scooper.
The field of scooping is a young person’s game, so at the ripe old age of 20, I’d been promoted to shift manger. This means I worked 8-10 hours a day, interacting with customers and noisy kids, all while managing a team of high schoolers and keeping everything running smoothly. There was a lot of noise, a lot of people, and a lot of multitasking.
It was exhausting.
The day of this particular incident, I knew I would be travelling with my family to attend my cousin’s 21st birthday party the next day. Knowing my need to recharge, my plan was to spend the evening after my shift alone in my room, sleeping off my introvert hangover, and gathering my strength.
This is Where the Trouble Started for this Young Introvert
As I returned home from work, my parents were sitting on the back porch, listening to music. Like the dutiful daughter I was, I did what was expected of me and sat a while to visit. When I eventually tried to excuse myself, my dad said, “Where are you going?”
“Upstairs?” I responded like it was obvious.
“No, you’re not. You never spend any time with us,” or, at least he said something along lose lines. Something that was meant to guilt trip me into foregoing my much-needed alone time.
I explained that if he wanted me to be pleasant at the party the next day, I’d need to take some time to be alone now. They could spend time with me now or later, they couldn’t have it both ways.
“Oh, come on!” my dad’s catch phrase, followed by something like, “don’t be so dramatic.” I was always the dramatic one with my need for quiet and solitude. Go figure.
That’s when I got up and ran away.
Why Didn’t My Parents Understand?
Okay, I didn’t run away. I walked to the end of our street, sat down on the grass, and cried, not knowing what else to do.
I couldn’t figure out why my parents didn’t understand me. Why, it seemed, they refused to understand me.
I wondered how they could dismiss my needs so easily without ever thinking that my need to sit alone in silence could be as valid as my dad’s need to sit in company with music playing.
As a teenager, this kind of thing happened often, and each time, it shook me to my core and made me question my own identity.
Know it Gets Better
Growing up as the only introvert in a house full of extraverts was hard, and I couldn’t wait to move out. I felt so different from the rest of my household, and I thought that I was wrong.
But you’re not. Over time, your parents will start to see you and they’ll start to listen more; my own parents did. Just keep being clear about your needs and offer yourself kindness and compassion—especially when you’re struggling to make it through another week of school after a weekend with the ‘rents.
It may seem hard now, but they’ll understand one day. Or, at least that’s my experience.
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