I’m a high-functioning introvert, so I seem like a normal person most of the time. People talk to me. Also, people tend to ask me for help in public. I don’t know why. Somebody even asked me for directions in Shanghai. Do I look like I’m a native? Once I got mixed up in Vienna and sent 30 Romanian tourists in the opposite direction from their bus. I never saw them again. Sorry. Anyway, what you don’t see is that while I might look fine, as a fully-qualified introvert, I need time alone to recharge. People wear introverts out, being alone energizes us. Mid-way through a day out, I’m usually longing to find the nearest bathroom and lock myself in a stall until tomorrow comes. Actually, I’ve tried that, but my legs fell asleep. Here are some things that usually work for me.
- Only take trips with people you love who have proven themselves travel-worthy and understand your need for space and silence. If that’s not possible, try these other things:
- Bring earplugs. Put them in even if you’re not listening to anything.
- Pretend to sleep.
- Really sleep.
- Go for walks alone. It’s ok to say, “I’m going for a walk alone.”
- Stay home alone while everybody else goes out. It’s ok to say, “I’m going to stay home alone.”
- People-watch. Sit on a bench and watch the world go by.
- Have an advocate. That’s somebody who knows you are an introvert. They can tell people to give you space if you can’t do it. Usually it sounds like this: “Hey, where’s Yvonne?” “She left. She’ll be back for dinner. Don’t worry about her.”
- Don’t let anyone take advantage of your space. You need it. Do not offer to share a room with Chatty Cathy, even if she’s only going to be there for one night and she promises you’ll have a really really good time and it will save you both money.
- Wear sunglasses. Reflective if possible.
- When dining alone in restaurants, sit at the bar instead of a table. Tables feel so exposed.
- Look out the bus/train/plane window.
- Avoid group tours. Hire a local driver or guide if you can’t navigate the area yourself.
- Visit concentration camps. Nobody talks there.