Reaching Out

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I need your advice.

I know each and everyone of you have very busy lives and that there are better ways to ask questions on the internet, such as on yahoo answers, but I’ve just met so many wonderful, lovely introverted or highly sensitive people through my blog that it makes my heart ache with joy because they UNDERSTAND that I thought it would be better to ask the tiny community on my blog or any empathetic readers that straggle by.

I hope that doesn’t sound presumptuous.

Given my lack of blog posts, I don’t blame any of you for not tuning in to my rambles.

Either way, I’ll spill out my emotional guts as usual.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been drained. Absolutely drained. Bone-crushing, cement seeping, cells withering kind of drained. The kind of drained that makes you want to collapse into a dead faint and sleep for a thousand years. My nerves are fried, they spark intermittently with bursts of anxiety and tension. Even the skin on my face feels as if it were old and sagging like leather, though it looks perfectly smooth and youthful in the mirror. This is a fatigue that has set its roots in my soul. And I want out.

Why are you on the verge of throwing in the towel and moving to the Tibetan mountains to become a monk just so you can have some solitude, you may ask? I’m currently a student at school. I am studying a strenuous course jam-packed with contact hours. Jam-packed. Forty hours a week. No time to take a breather in the library or bathroom cubicle. Rush, rush, rush, from lunchroom, to classroom, to get on the bus for the racous commute, to home. I am an extreme introvert. Like, more than 89% introverted. Which means all of that whizzing around? It is exhausting. I’ve felt like a robot set in triple-speed motion, all blurred limbs and buzzing brain.

Now, if it were just the classes, I would be dead brain tired. After all, I even hated high school due to the extreme noise and requisite social interaction in that institutional hellhole. But, no. Oh, no. On top of all that (which may sound like not much, but for an extreme introvert and anxiety sufferer, it’s like being put onto a forever tightening torture rack each day), I have a part-time job. Why? For money.

I don’t come from an extravagant background. Even though my parents aren’t dirt-poor anymore, they’re still struggling with the mortgage and other bills. They can’t help me when it comes to paying for tuition, buying textbooks (and they can get real expensive. I mean, what are they, made out of solid gold?), paying for food, for school supplies, for transport, etc. And I don’t want to leech off my parents and put even more strain on them in their middle age. They’ve endured enough. I need to be independent and make my own livelihood.

After all, even dreamers have to eat.

So I work at my part-time job after school hours. Seems pretty normal, right? Fit it in when you’ve got time sort of thing. I’ve been working as a part-time teacher for teenagers in high school. Hey, shut up, you have a job, what are you whining for? But it’s like two school days packed into a twelve hours. Like trying to cram two meaty burgers into one’s already shrunken stomach instead of the usual one, and even that it usually has trouble digesting.

And the job isn’t some introverted stocking-the-shelves kind of gig. It’s teaching. I have to be animated, talk in front of the class, smile until I feel my lips are going to drop off, followed my cheeks. It means crinkling up my eyes in bubbliness, because it’s the only way to get their attention, a happy-go-lucky persona, until I want to gouge out my own eyeballs so I can turn this world to blackness and not have to look or face it any longer. It’s slowly killing my life force.

I’m convalescing in bed right now. I’m sick. I have a sore throat, achy limbs. It’s obvious I can’t keep it up. I so desperately crave solitude after a day of slogging at university but I’m not getting it. I’m jumping from the lion’s mouth into a pit of fire. Screaming silently all the way. And I don’t know what to do.

I need the money.

It’s hard for someone like me to find another job. I found this one after many applications. I’m also sick of the application process. Maybe it’s just fear? This job pays well for someone with my level of experience and I feel like I am giving up an opportunity others would die for (ironic, seeing as I feel like I’m practically slowly dying for it).

I’ve tried asking to switch the classes to the weekends. Been told right of the bat that it isn’t going to happen, something about the schedules of the students and their parents. Was wallowing in too much despair to absorb the exact details.

What’s a girl got to do? I’m so sick of this loud, talkative world, it makes my brain rattle and tangles my nerves terribly. I can’t stand it, I want to scream and bawl and cry. I want to hide in some remote cave and live off bats, anything is better than this (well, maybe not that exactly, I couldn’t bear to kill a living creature. Gah. I’m so soft and sensitive it’s no wonder I’m trampled over by the callous, thick-skinned, extroverted people of this land).

Note:  My self-deprecating part of me would like to say some things right now : Oh, poor little me, poor little me. I know I’m being selfish complaining about my introversion issues when people are struggling with far greater issues in the world. My empathy and imagination simply cannot ignore that others might be suffering much more. And that any of you who read this needn’t give a damn about me, I’m just another voice on the internet. So, please, if I’m taking up your time unnecessarily, do not answer. I have no right to your time.

So, here is my question. What should I do? Quit? Stay?

The thought of quitting is liberating, my lungs expand in response and my nerves slacken. But some part of me whispers, maybe you’re giving up too easy. I mean, you’ll have to a get a job one day, right? If you can’t handle this, what if you can’t handle a job in the future? What if you just need to toughen it out? 

I don’t know. All I know is I am a highly frazzled extreme introvert/HSP in need of your help.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, if you cared enough to read this long-winded post this far.  

Dreamerrambling 

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24 thoughts on “Reaching Out

  1. I definitely understand that working part time and studying at the same time can be at some points in time just plain overwhelming. Especially if you are introverted and your job involves a lot talking and social contact. That being said I think you should stay, as a fellow introvert I think getting out of your comfort zone and pushing yourself is helpful.

    • Thank you for reaching out 🙂 Yes, pushing yourself outside of my comfort zone is very important. I just sometimes wish I knew where the zone ends, because sometimes I tell myself to grit my teeth and fight through it because I think I have to push myself out of my comfort zone and I end up going overboard. I guess I need to figure out my comfort zone as well!

      • I had a very similar experience and really I was surprised by how much I achieved by pushing my self just that little bit more. You will definitely find that balance you need, so stay positive. It looks like you have plenty of support judging by the number of replies.

  2. When I read your post, my stomach became tight and knotty. I call it “florginess”. It’s that tense, unsettling feeling you get in the stomach. Reading about what you’re going through made me feel overwhelmed and exhausted and well, florgy. I can only imagine what it is like for you.
    I understand you. I’ve been there. I took on too much, I got sick and frazzled and dropped out of university. I regret it but not because getting a degree is everything but because I didn’t take care of myself. If I had a time machine, I would go back and TAKE CARE OF MYSELF. I would tell myself “you’re stronger than you think. This won’t last forever. Just take care of yourself.” What does taking care of yourself look like? It can mean taking a break every 5 minutes to breathe or to be alone in a dark closet or a bathroom stall. It can mean sleeping regularly and for long periods of time. It means eating well and often and sitting down to do so. It means saying no to stuff, even fun stuff. It means being alone a lot, just sitting and staring until you feel ready to do the stuff you need to do. And, it means in the future not taking on so much. I know you think you have to or need to but you don’t. It’s true — you can do whatever you want.
    Again, you’re stronger than you think, it’s OK to say no to things, and TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. MM

    • Hello! Thank you for taking the time to craft this reply, I really appreciate it. Been reading everyone’s heartfelt comments and it’s made me feel so happy that I’m close to tears. It’s funny how I can receive more appreciation and find more kinship with people on the internet rather than around me in real life. I love that word, florgy. I experience ‘florginess’ a good deal during my life. I will take you advice in my stead and try to take care of myself a bit better. I often feel guilty for just staring into space or lazing around, as if I’m feeding my procrastination habit. Still not so sure on the decision yet but I’m already going to cut back one of my classes. Still going to be stressful, but less so. Thank you and you take care of yourself too! 🙂

  3. Hi dreamerrambling: I can relate. I have been out of undergrad and grad school for many years now and I don’t remember being jammed packed (I liked school better than the working world) but I can relate when it comes to my current job. It’s really been the culmination of almost 10 years in the mental health field but this job I am at now has topped the cake. Feeling anxious, sick, etc.. and I knew why. It went against who I am as a person. I am taking a leap of faith and I gave a resignation. Now, having said that I am going to have to work but have decided to freelance as a counselor and possibly study writing or something fun. I really didn’t have a “solid” plan but I do have an outline. Sometimes we have to discard what is non essential and keep what is only necessary if at all possible to save our health and sanity. Sometimes for us introverts that in and of itself can be daunting but I think sometimes it is necessary. With my job, it just pushed me to make decisions. As I get older I think life is too short. I made plans to get to this point and it took some saving and downsizing my life but I just had to do it to save myself. I wouldn’t say just quit but maybe just see if there are adjustments you can make. Sometimes a break puts things into perspective. I wish you renewed strength and let us know how you are doing!

    • Thank you. Yes, I can completely see how the mental health field would be draining for an introvert. I would absorb all the negativity and grief and anxiety from my patients if I was a counselor. Definitely starting to make adjustments, eliminating one of my classes. Small step but I’m getting somewhere to solving this problem. Thank you again for caring and I’ll give an update on this blog (though none of you need to tune in, it seems presumptuous of me to think that my insignificant little life could be of any interest to anyone), if I can get a moment to catch my breath in the following weeks. 🙂

  4. I agree with the general sentiment of those who have replied so far, Dreamer, and hopefully my take on your situation is helpful as well.

    First, this: Don’t quit. Don’t quit your job, and don’t quit school. Those options just can’t even be on the table, because the alternatives when you do quit are bleak. As someone who has quit jobs and school when he shouldn’t have (and realizes the folly of it in retrospect), you don’t want to go through the much-magnified difficulty of going back to school when the challenges are significantly greater.

    Secondly, this: To say that school is tough is an understatement—the papers, the countless hours of studying and memorizing information that you know you’re going to forget as soon as you’ve regurgitated it for a quiz or exam, and a steady diet of Hamburger Helper all make for an experience best lived but not repeated. Having to maintain a job in addition to bearing the rigors of academic life totally magnifies the draining effect—especially when, as an INFP, you can very easily look at your job and find no inherent value in it, other than as a means to an end. And here’s the kicker: If you’re anything like me (also an INFP!), allowing that dissatisfaction to really take root can sabotage your morale, and ultimately drag down your efforts in areas that matter most. In fact, your description of growing unhappiness both with student life and working part time sort of indicates you might be experiencing some of this already.

    Thirdly, this: My advice? Take a step back and assess the situation on a larger scale. This is an issue of perspective, and you are allowing your discontent to narrow your focus to what is directly in front of you, and then convince you to sum up your entire life as a nearly-intolerable Groundhog Day of school-work-hamburger-school-work-hamburger-school-work-hamburger-etc. The reality is you have an entire life ahead of you, and the relative few years you spend in college—draining and difficult though they may be—will be a fond memory you regard as character-forming when you look back on them in the future. Is this cliché? You bet it is; but clichés have staying power sometimes because they carry with them an element of truth.

    And, finally: From a position of pure sympathy, I will tell you that I completely understand coming home from a day (after day after day after day…) feeling like it is not possible to keep up the regimen. And this, dear Dreamer, is also an issue of perspective, but this time you are allowing your discontent to broaden your focus so much that it overwhelms you. Sometimes, trying to inspire yourself with the thought that in a distant future you will have freedom and time and money is frankly not inspiring at all. So what do you do? Well, you put your head down, and focus on what is right in front of you, and you get it done. For me, that often means making a checklist in the morning, and taking satisfaction in having accomplished that. It’s not magic, but it gets me through those moments.

    Get well, allow yourself regular sanity breaks, and keep putting one foot out into the darkness in front of the other. It will all be worth it.

    • Thank you Chad! You really do have wonderful insights on situations. You’re right. Being an idealist, I turn to look towards the rosy future rather than what is in front of me. I will take all of your advice to heart. Put one foot out into the darkness in front of the other. I’m going to make some compromises, but after that, I think I’ll just knuckle down and get through it. The dark times have to end some day, right? Still daydreaming about that oasis I talked about in another comment though…:)

  5. I’m really sorry to read you’re going through such hard times. These are feelings I know too well and still experience at times. I understand you. I was in a similar boat in University. My parents were far from rich and couldn’t contribute a lot to my education at that level. I was pretty much on my own. I worked in a fast food restaurant (genuine hell for an introvert). That really is all I could get then. I worked almost full-time, after each day at school, on weekends and, worse, on weekend night shifts every second weekend, all this while being full-time student. It left me half-dead, depressed and with bad grades after about a year. I just wanted to quit and die, I couldn’t handle this rhythm and the continuous over-overstimulation it implied anymore.

    What I would suggest you to do is to look for compromises and prepare your next step. What I did was to lower the number of hours I worked, take one less class per semester, ditch my monthly bus pass and look for job opportunities everyday. The first was a blessing for my sanity. The second freed up some more time I could use to satisfy my need for silence and solitude and made school a bit less expensive on a yearly basis. The third made me save too and gave me a neat 45 minutes buffer each way between my appartment and school that helped me release a lot of tension and stress. And the last one allowed me to spot a great opportunity at one of my faculty’s lab, which I seized – I could then, finally, ditch the fast food and work in a good environment. My situation improved tremendously with each of these changes.

    I don’t know if these very tricks can apply to your situation or not. I obviously don’t know the full picture. And, of course, you don’t have to listen to me at all! But I hope this voice on the internet could help you at least a little.

    • Of course I will listen to you! You took time out of your own (probably busy) life to care and write this and I am utterly grateful. ‘I just wanted to quit and die’ just about sums the whole situation up. Oh, I wish you hadn’t gone through that hellhole as well, it’s horrible. And yes, I’m starting to make some compromises, small as they are. I’m eliminating one of my classes. But I’m still scared to completely quit, because it pays well and takes up a smaller chunk of time than other jobs which leaves more room for studying and doing the things I like. Except it’s doubly draining. Sigh. I’ll see how long I can hold out. And then I’m changing jobs. I feel like my dreams of teaching in the future have evaporated, it’s just too hard for an extreme introvert to withstand.
      And help me a little? All these voices on the internet have helped me enormously. You all can’t imagine. Just knowing that there are people who understand and don’t write me off as too fragile and weak. Thank you. 🙂

  6. I’m on a similar boat at the moment, though not quite the same one. I’ll keep it short and simple. When things get tough, stop to look at the bigger picture. I’ve been on the verge of quitting for a few times in recent years, but when I actually stopped to think about why I took on such a schedule and for what causes, I was able to overcome my moments of despair.

    But first and foremost, I’ve learned that you need to take care of yourself physically and mentally first before you can accomplish bigger and better things. As a fellow introvert, I survive my packed schedules by making sure I have some alone time every night to unwind.

    Although we’re in different parts of the world and not exactly in the same situation, know that you are not alone in feeling drained and hopeless. I can’t make the ultimate decision for you, but do know that you have my empathy and support as a fellow introverted blogger.

    • Thank you! Your empathy and support and those of others has been invaluable to me. I can’t stress this enough. I wish I could convey through these dead words on an electronic screen how grateful I feel, to find people who care and listen and understand when all my life I’ve felt like a freak, a nobody, a flimsy, weak, little thing that just needs to ‘toughen up’. It means so much. So, so, so much. And yes, I agree, definitely need to find time to unwind. Except after work it usually means I have to hit the books and study rather than take a scented bath and delve into a novel. Busy life, I guess. Sometimes, I wish I could just get away from it all. Create an oasis for dreamers on some remote island. We could be self-sufficient and interdependent. Spend time growing food and petting cats and indulging in relaxing and creative activities. How wonderful would that be?

  7. I honestly think people who are saying “it’s good to be out of your comfort zone” are saying bullsh**. No offense but this world is a heavily extrovert-skewed world. “People interaction is normal” – no, actually, and it seems to me much of social ills sprouts from expecting the “ideal employee”, especially a woman: bright eyed and perky, or cold and yet sensible. And you describe so clearly the toll it takes on you! Remind yourself that it won’t be like this forever, that there are jobs for introverts like us.

    I’d second the person who says: compromise. It’s hard, but maybe look for another job. Applications are draining because you get rejected so many times, but remember – you just need to get accepted only once more. You can get rejected many times, but you don’t need to be accepted many times – you just need to be accepted once. I think you should try looking for other positions (I am) because what you have right now does not seem sustainable.

    Even if it kills you, carve out time for yourself. Invest in a set of noise-cancelling earplugs if you need to commute to save time. I don’t know where I would be without writing. It takes up some of my sleeping time but I think it helps me to center. You should give yourself some time to be mindless and not be obliged to anyone.

    And look at all the people who care about you! I wish this many people commented on my blog, haha.

    • Hi Chris! Yeah, the comfort zone is a tricky thing. I completely understand that it’s important to push yourself as it’s the only way you grow. The only question is, how much is too much? Hard to say because I can be very harsh on myself sometimes and feel I just need to ‘suck it up’, a phrase reiterated by many ostensibly well-meaning fellow extroverts in my life. Yes, I think compromise might be the way to go. I’m already going to cut back on one of my teaching sessions. But that still leaves many draining afternoons to battle through and I cringe at the thought of it all. I suppose if am still blowing a fuse a couple of weeks later even after adjustments, I need to quit and find a different job. Even though the prospect of that is terrifying because initiating conversations is not my forte. At all. I’d rather eat a spider.

      • Has someone ever recommended the TED talk by Susan Cain about “The Power of Introverts”? If you feel overwhelmed and need a good pick-me-up, I suggest looking at that. TED talks are always inspiring.

        And life is always an uphill struggle – like someone said, “I’ve learned from video games that if I meet obstacles that I’m going in the right direction”. The question is what kind of suffering you’re willing to endure. As of right now suffering through a compromise will be hard, and interviewing will be hard – gosh, I hate cold-emailing! – but you will encouraged later, I think. Hope I don’t sound preachy and condescending, and that this helps!

        I’m also always encouraged by your openness. Please keep sharing!

  8. Again, I am struck by how similar you sound to me. The only difference is that I have probably 20 years on you, and slightly more life experience to fall back on. I have only recently discovered the term HSP, so you are already one step ahead of me (in hindsight, had I been aware that I wasn’t overly-emotional and too stress, but HSP, my life could have been a lot different). You know that you need to give yourself a break – you have written your post, because that’s how you feel, yet all the way through it you have doubted the seriousness (or, rather, felt others would think you were complaining for no reason), yet you know that as a HSP, everything you are feeling is justified and normal. Life IS fast paced, we can’t escape that. All we can do is try to find time away from our stressors, and give ourselves time to re-group. I would say that if you need to work, then there is no changing that. Look out for another job that might suit you better, but it might be that right now that is not possible. I now work from home, and it is bliss. I have never been happier. But I am 46 years old and had worked in customer service for over 20 years, including six years as an overseas holiday rep (so I get how you feel when you are “pretending” to be something you aren’t). I don’t think I have any real answers for you. I wish I did. All I can do is reiterate that knowledge is power – you know why you are like you are, and with knowledge should hopefully come some kind of calmness. Sorry for the rambling – you know us HSPs, we can’t just give a straight answer!

    • No need to apologise. I am an inveterate rambler too. Hence, the name. I drive logical, get-straight-to-the-point people crazy. Thank you. For all your encouragements and kind words and advice. Working from home sounds like my idea of heaven as well. What kind of home job to you hold? Does it involve a good deal of talking over the phone?

      • Hi! I am a freelance writer, would you believe! I write mainly articles, and started off getting work through oDesk (now I have repeat work from several clients, so don’t use oDesk as much. And no, no phone work! I am assuming that it is a HSP trait to absolutely hate talking on the phone – it is one thing that I really struggle with, even at home! Thank you for all the responses to my comments on your posts – it really is nice to feel not so alone 🙂

      • That sounds like the best job in the world. Seriously. Freelance writer without have to use the phone. I wish, well, I hope I can have a job like that in the future. How did you get started in this field? Did you have to have previous experience/qualifications/knowledge?

      • No, not at all. I have always loved writing, and have done many admin jobs involving letter writing. I moved back to Sweden last summer, and needed something I could do from home. Check out oDesk – it is for freelancers (writing, customer service, programming etc.). I love the freedom it gives me – I am my own boss, and I am here when my kids come home, and I get to do a lot of baking! Definitely check it out! I started off applying for jobs with low prices, and built up my portfolio. Now I mainly work for just two clients. I would say that it pays around a part time wage, but that is my choice – I could work a lot more than that if I chose to!

  9. What types of articles do you write? I don’t have a background in journalism but do enjoy writng and reading. And would prefer to help people from the comfort of my own home. This aounds like an ideal job.

  10. I think you should Quit! *ducking head*
    Or play games with your mind every time a new week starts, say, “I will resign at the end of this week!”
    The trick is not to follow it through. That feeling of possible freedom will lift up your spirit. I don’t know how long this would work for you…it could be just to help you go through a day or more but it worked for me, it was like my little secret..and fun!
    So…what I am saying is do not quit but day dream about it. That’s my two cents.

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