Bubbles can be downright exhausting.
Throw a rock in any direction during the summer months and you’re bound to hit 28 bubbly, overflowing descriptions of local landmarks and events. Trees, taken for granted after they’ve shed their leaves, become “awe-inspiring.” Community members attending the opening of a neighborhood’s fourth hair salon become “ecstatic.” The list goes on and on until everything starts to go grey under the endless wave of jovial description. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to bash pines or ribbon-cutting ceremonies. Trees and comically-large scissors make any good day even better.
Spring and summer are arguably the best seasons to see what the Fox Cities offer, but these events don’t always mesh well with introverted types. Take Mile of Music, for example: some people see concerts along College Avenue and great food, while other people see crowds. Massive, sprawling crowds that gather before lunch and remain for most of the weekend. These aren’t the crowds of New York or Chicago, where stone-faced office workers ignore the other people infringing on their personal space. The crowds at summer events are even worse: they’re having fun. The pressure is on for anyone not enjoying events in a large group of like-minded individuals, each passing moment heightening feelings of nervousness or the sensation of being out of place. (Look around at nighttime markets or festivals; you can see the party-of-ones killing time on their phones, the screen lighting their faces like truncated streetlights.)
Summer is fast approaching. Believe it or not, these summer events and pastimes are actually enjoyable, although they’re described in a way that’s simply more appealing to extroverts. With this blog series, I hope to create an Introvert’s Guide to the Fox Cities. It won’t be comprehensive by any means, but it should get you through the summer.
This isn’t going to be a cop-out or a drab description of community events as a counterpart to the excited descriptions found elsewhere. Sure, it’s fun to imagine ourselves as a camera-glancing character like The Office’s Jim or Parks and Recreation’s April, but the goal of this series is to break down the dread-inducing parts of nature’s most extrovert-friendly season so introverts can enjoy it more fully. Feel free to mess with the Jerrys and Dwights in your life, but don’t deprive yourself of happiness in the process.
“Introvert” can’t be used as a blanket description; there’s a lot of nuance in the term that can be helpful for anyone who isn’t sure why they don’t enjoy going out or being in crowds. Some introverts don’t even mind crowds. I’ll do a quick rundown of the four types of introverts identified by Jon Cheek in this study. (There are a lot of other websites that give explanations of the types that aren’t delivered in long, academic papers, but they’re all based off Cheek’s study.) The four types of introverts are:
Social: This is your classic small group over large- preference. Social introverts aren’t necessarily nervous around large groups or crowds; they simply prefer to relax alone or hang out with a small group of friends if they’re given the option.
Thinking: This is a group that isn’t usually referred to as introverted, as the distinction with thinking introverts has little to do with their reaction to crowds. Thinking introverts frequently get lost in thought, often getting preoccupied with creative ideas. This thinking isn’t driven by anxiety or tension; it’s simply a distracted escape into their own world. It’s easy to draw connections to extroverted counterparts for this type: while the ‘thinking extroverted’ type might derail a conversation with a thousand tangents, the thinking introverted type will tend to space out until they’re pulled back into the real world.
Anxious: anxious introverts are similar to social introverts, but the former group’s preference for alone time is driven by anxiety rather than preference. Although both groups might be wallflowers at a party, anxious introverts are more likely to be the type of person to fidget and look for any way of leaving the situation. This could also lead to retracing every awkward interaction from the day as you’re falling asleep. (Another note: the “anxious” descriptor refers to a mild feeling of anxiety and should not be confused with clinically-diagnosed anxiety.)
Restrained: restrained introverts might seem a little slow at first, but this is simply a different way of processing thought. They tend to think over everything they say instead of blurting out whatever is on their mind. In this respect, restrained introverts are similar to thinking introverts.
These classifications of introverts aren’t a universally-accepted theory of social interaction, but they’re still helpful for self-reflection and determining what events or locations are right for you. If you’re a restrained introvert, environments that allow you to take your time might be great for you. If you’re an anxious introvert, locations with quick exit options will give you a good escape route if you’re trying to leave in a hurry. I won’t be focusing on specific types of introversion in this series; everything will cater to a general sense of introversion that shares common ground between the four types.
Some of the posts in this series will cover specific events, like Mile of Music or 4th of July celebrations. These will give you specific tips for getting through the events while still having fun. Other posts will cover more generalized topics and will take more of a “where” approach to the Introvert’s Guide, like summer camping or breakfast/lunch/dinner. Other posts will cover topics like summer fitness, going to the beach, and rainy days. No matter the topic or the approach I take in each post, I’ll do my best to help all you other introverts out there get through the next few months until cold weather becomes a valid excuse for staying indoors again.