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Red Flags That Tell Us It's Time to Leave the House

When solitude becomes isolation, it's time for some face-to-face.

 Victor Semionov/Creative Commons
Source: Victor Semionov/Creative Commons

I've written before about what happens when introverts spend too much time out and about and get overextended. But believe it or not (and some introverts don’t believe it, I know), it’s also possible for introverts to overdo solitude. I've certainly found that there are times when blissful solitude slips over the line to lonely isolation. That's when I know it’s time to turn off Netflix and have some IRL fun.

I don't always notice this happening until it's upon me, but I do stay alert for red flags. For example, I know I’m getting alone-time weird when I start getting angry at people on Facebook (my social media of choice because Twitter makes me tired). When my comments—posted or just imagined—become grumpy retorts, I know it's time to shut my computer and call a friend for some happy (or venting) face-to-face time.

Another social media red flag: When I start feeling bad about all the fun everyone else is having. I mean, I always feel that way a little bit (FOMO is real), but when it starts gnawing at my gut, I know it’s time to take matters into my own hands and make some social fun for myself. And please note—fun that you make for yourself is often more fun than just joining in on things other people plan. After all, who usually makes fun happen? Extroverts. And introvert fun is often quite different from extrovert fun. I’ll pass on the party, but I might call a friend to go to a museum, or maybe buy a couple of tickets for a lecture and invite someone along. Whee! Introvert fun!

I notice too that there are times when niceties exchanged with store clerks feel like “real” conversation. Yeah, no. Nothing against the little exchanges that make the world a pleasant place, but that kind of chitchat is barely a shadow of real conversation. Time to pin a friend down for a lunch date and an opportunity to use all my words.

I asked the introverts on my FB page what red flags let them know that it’s time to get off the couch and into the world. Their responses:

  • I stop responding to calls and texts...and showering. When I allow 5 days between showers, it’s time to force myself to make plans outside the house
  • I love to just “be” in my house, I’m a homebody. But I know I’ve had too much isolation when I want to escape; get in the car and just go, just drive.
  • I find myself getting antsy. I’m not the best at reaching out in those times. It’s a dilemma.
  • I notice my love for cooking subsides. It’s a sure sign of depression slipping in the door. At that point, I do things to break my "routine." Hit a bookstore, plant something new, etc...
  • Fortunately, I have an anti-introversion alarm... my dog. He kinda senses when I'm starting to "sink" and starts nibbling on me. Then I know it's time to stretch and get out into nature a bit. I guess you could say he's a service dog of sorts.
  • When I start to have that me vs. the world feeling and wonder if my life makes any sense at all.
  • …when I start going back to listening to music that reminds me of people whom I'm better off without.
  • Mine is when I start thinking one of my neighbors is going to check on me because they haven't seen me for a while. So I’ll try to be proactive, shower, get dressed, and call them. Beats coming to the door in my PJs when they drop in. My subconscious knows when I'm overdoing it.
  • I realize when I need real human connection is when I actually WANT to go grocery shopping (which I usually detest).

Do you know what your own red flags are? Do you respect and act on them?

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