This is my own personal contribution to Webster’s Dictionary:
Mentally and physically I NEED to worcoon.
To meet me you’d never know I lean more to the introverted side of the spectrum. I host get togethers, I speak in groups, heck I laugh obnoxiously (that’s just my laugh, not an intent) at jokes and truisms. I can “turn on” to fit any situation and people tend to like me. But when the gathering is over – it’s time for worcooning.
Turns out about 1/3 to half of the population (myself included) are defined as “introverts”. This isn’t determined by social activity and participation, but rather by the way we process stimulation.
The distinction between the two, lies mainly in the fact that introverts get exhausted by social interaction, while extroverts get anxious when left alone. Introverts need solitude in order to recharge, while extroverts draw energy from socializing. ~Carl Jung
There are all kinds of studies and statistics regarding the processing of stimuli in the brains of both introverts and extroverts – neither of which are absolute by the way – we all fall somewhere on a large spectrum. Some studies suggest that introverts have more gray matter in the frontal lobes of the brain which indicates increased usage in areas that have been found to correlate to creativity, memory, decision making and abstract thought.
This suggests that introverts process information “more thoroughly and deeply“, than extroverts whose neural path is much shorter.
Additionally, studies have found that introverts are more sensitive to dopamine – a chemical in the brain that “gives us immediate, intense zaps of happiness when we act quickly, take risks, and seek novelty.” ~Introvertdear.com
This increased sensitivity means that we need less of it than extroverts do – and too much causes overstimulation and anxiety. Think of dopamine as your morning coffee – introverts are happy to have a single cup, but indulging in a second and third cup creates a ‘caffeine buzz’ that causes headaches, jitters and heart palpitations. Extroverts are able to process that same cup of coffee, but they enjoy the caffeine buzz so much, that they go back for more and more to create the same positive feelings that the initial cup produced. That’s a simple (and not-at-all-scientific) metaphor, but I hope it helps to explain where this need for “worcooning” comes from.
Any day that includes meetings – no matter how necessary and informative – is like having a second and third cup of coffee (stimulus) for me. The meeting begins well before the attendees arrive with anxiety over preparation, gathering information, setting the scene and pre-planning conversations and rebuttals. The meetings themselves might be entertaining and fun (eg. coffee dates or social lunches), but during them my brain is processing not only what you are saying to me, but all of the stimulus around us – traffic out on the street, clanging dishes at a restaurant, the smell of someone’s cologne etc. I am taking in, and doing my best to process, everything in a given scenario. After the meeting, the brain is still running; I’m kicking myself for things I should have mentioned, rebuttals I didn’t come up with, and additional ideas or concepts I should have brought into the conversation.
After a meeting is done, my mind needs to deflate – or de-caffeinate if working with the coffee analogy. I need to limit the amount of additional stimulus that enters my brain in order to slowly work my way through the barrage that is already in there. This is when I “worcoon”. I’ll write blog posts, strip furniture, prepare my editorial calendar or take and edit photographs – thoughtful activities that are done in solitude. Hubby finds this as exhausting as I do meetings – he needs the dopamine/coffee to recharge and keep him energized. His thought processing is done and he’s moved on to the next adventure.
Why do I bring all of this up? For a few reasons – one to apologize to a friend with whom I had a meeting yesterday and just couldn’t muster the psychological strength to go through with. It is not you, it is entirely me and I truly apologize for the late cancellation.
The second reason is because I feel tired of apologizing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being more introverted. My brain is processing information differently than 50% of the population – but I’m right in line with about 50% as well. That’s not abnormal, it’s not a mental health issue on par with depression or anxiety. It is because I am more introverted that I created this blog, and have written a book, and enjoy learning and sharing (in my own way) new things all the time.
It is also why Webster’s Dictionary (and Oxford and all of the others out there) should include the word “Worcooning” within their pages… it is a valuable activity without which thought, creativity, inspiration and quite frankly – work – might not get done.
Have YOUR great one and recharge how you need!