So don’t mobilise a search party when I disappear for a while.


Honestly, it’s me not you. I genuinely enjoy your company and miss you when you’re not around. I value our time together, and wouldn’t trade it for anything; wanting only to give you the best I have to offer. Why then is it so hard to understand that there are times when I just need to disappear for a while? Not so long that my picture warrants an appearance on a milk carton, but long enough to…well… recharge.


I appreciate it’s confusing, as yesterday I was the life and soul of the party and you couldn’t shut me up. Today however, I just need to be alone; for isolation is all I crave.


You see that’s the paradox that many of us navigate daily. We crave the social engagement that makes us feel connected and alive. We love being part of a vibrant group of friends who remind us of the best that humanity has to offer.


On the other hand, after a while you’re going to start grating on us. Sure, I thought you were awesome yesterday, but now you just piss me off and I need to put some distance between us.


Like I said before, it’s me not you!


Please understand, you’ve done nothing wrong, and in a day or two I’ll once again be president of your fan club. But right now, I can’t bear to be around you. Once again, let me assure you that it’s nothing personal; I also can’t be arsed with the rest of humanity.


Years ago, I believed I was weird for thinking this way. OK, so I was a little weird, but in terms of my thought process, not so much. I wasn’t (as I was so often accused of being) at all ‘shy’. That’s just a convenient term used to label someone who can’t easily be categorised. Furthermore, it’s lazy.


The truth of the matter is: I’ve always been a right gobby sod, not short of an opinion, and vocal when something ignites a passion. But like so many people who share my way of thinking, I never want to be the centre of attention; preferring instead to let others take the lead and only interjecting when I want to.


Despite a reluctance to hog the limelight, many of us are highly functional in a variety of forward facing roles: we can teach, make detailed presentations and network our asses off if it serves a purpose. There is however a price to pay, as all this social engagement takes its toll.


Allow me to explain. There are days when being a fully paid-up member of the human race feels quite natural; almost as if we were born into it! On other days we’re playing a role and merely going through the motions. Those days – or an accumulation of such – serve only to stoke an overwhelming craving for solitude.


Think of it as a mental re-set; a necessary system re-boot if you like. Whether it makes sense or not, it is what it is, and we won’t be changing any time soon! You see, if we’ve come to this self-realisation and can be open about it, then you can be damn sure that we’ve already spent many years trying fix ourselves. Not that we ever needed fixing. Rather, an expectation to conform was always present.


Most introverts will eventually realise that they like their own company a little more than society generally considers normal. We’ll have spent much time in our own heads, engaged in critical self-talk whereby we’d vow to become a poster-child for the socially engaged generation; only to fail at every turn. Well, not quite, and here’s where you’ll have to bear with us.


We tend to love people very much. Though when I say people, I mean ‘some’ people. Those we’ve come to trust, and whom we deem worthy of spending our time with. We cherish those people and hold them dear. We’ll happily expend all our ‘social energy’ on those special few, and it’ll be a pleasure to do so.


Please then, bear in mind that when we suddenly seem a little distant, or hard to reach, that our intention is to ensure you only get the very best we have to offer. Therefore, we decide to spare you during our ‘isolationist’ periods. We may be slightly moody during these times; selfish even, and definitely stand-offish. So why, when we care about you, would we expose you to this side of us?


If you’re willing to be patient, you can be sure that we’ll soon come bouncing back, and you’ll be the first we seek out.


All we ask is that you allow us our quirk, and don’t try to change us: we already tried that, and it didn’t take. Most of us are happy the way we are, and all we need is some space now and again.


That’s not too much to ask is it?

Related: Why it’s important to learn coping strategies for stress.