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To My Introverted Teen: I’ve Got Your Back This Holiday Season

Hey, sweetie, it’s Mom.

The holiday season has just started, but I know you’re already in social overload mode, what with all the upcoming obligatory celebrations and family get-togethers. Soon, relatives you don’t know will be asking what grade you’re in, how your love life is going, and what you’re planning to do with your future that’s exciting and financially viable.

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You are my “please do me the honor of not requesting my company” kid. It’s not that you hate people, and it’s not that you’re shy. It’s just that you need your alone time to charge your battery or you start feeling drained.

So while we navigate the holidays together, I want you to remember a few things.

Reminders for My Introvert:

1. I get that holidays for introverts are hard.

I don’t have to understand why this is hard to understand that it is. I don’t have to have a root canal in order to empathize with the pain one causes. You are introverted, which makes certain events uncomfortable—even painful. I get it, I promise.

2. I’m not asking you to do every holly, jolly thing this season.

Just because there are a dozen events and activities you could participate in between now and New Year’s doesn’t mean I’m asking you to do all of them. I’m looking for a few select commitments—the ones that will really matter long after the eggnog is gone and the pine needles have been swept up.

3. I won’t tell you, “You’ll have fun once you get there!”

Maybe you will, and I really hope you do. But I understand that just anticipating social interaction can be a struggle, whether you have fun or not once you are there.

4. I’m only asking you to stay a little while.

An hour, maybe two. Long enough not to be rude and show you respect the bonds of the relationship. As an introvert, you can usually psych yourself up for people time if you know it has a definite end and is not going to stretch on ad infinitum. So I’ll let you know how long we will need to stay so you can plan in advance.

5. I am grateful to you for doing this.

I’m asking you to make an appearance and engage in a little conversation because, in the big picture, your family is important. The connections you make are also important. I know social events can be uncomfortable for you, but the fact that you show up and participate counts, and I appreciate it.

6. I’ve got your back.

If some distant cousin starts in on you about how you “shouldn’t be so shy” or says you will “grow out of it,” I will be there for you. I will be the first one to tell them that being an introvert has nothing to do with being shy. And you don’t need to “outgrow” this part of your identity any more than you need to outgrow your hair or eye color. Being an introvert is not a flaw that requires repairing, fixing, or changing, and trust me, I am here to say so on your behalf.

7. I think you are terrific, and I love you.

I’m so glad you’re my child. You make my life better, which is why I’m asking you to share the gift of your presence with a few extra people this holiday season. You don’t have to “convert” to extroversion to be valuable and valued. Your introversion is part of your uniqueness—and I’m crazy about you just the way you are.

Elizabeth Spencer is mom to two daughters (one teen and one young adult) who regularly dispense love, affection, and brutally honest fashion advice. She writes about faith, food, and family (with some occasional funny thrown in) at Guilty Chocoholic Mama and avoids working on her 100-year-old farmhouse by spending time on Facebook and Twitter.

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