Clarify that introversion does not equal depression
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DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I don’t like hanging out and visiting with people very much. Left to my own devices I’d prefer reading and researching science in my field. I’m an introvert.
My folks worry I’m depressed, but the only time I’m depressed is when I’m being forced to go out and “socialize.” Please, what can I tell them to finally get them off my back, and stop worrying that I’m depressed?
— Content as an Introvert, Charleswood
Dear Introvert: No doubt they worry that being alone too much might lead to depression, and take it to the degree of worrying you could quietly slip into a depression and ponder suicide. Now, it’s out there: That’s the worst thought they might have in mind.
People who are not happily introverted like you are, can sometimes get terribly lonely and depressed — and disappear into their unhappy hole and do something tragic. But your folks need to know you don’t get lonely like they would. However, you need to respect the fact your parents have needs when it comes to relating to you. They need to see you regularly, even if it’s every two weeks for dinner, and a phone call in between.
So have this important discussion with your folks: Tell them you’re actually happy, not depressed, and you’re not quietly going down a rabbit hole to a bad place. Let them know you love them, and know you are loved, and assure them they can relax. You just enjoy more “alone and free” time than other people. Tell them if you ever start feeling isolated, you will call them and let them know.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I’m happy to see my relatives at parties — except for my creepy aunt. I’m 17 and a weightlifter, and have a solid build. She gets drunk and goes on about my muscles, even squeezing my biceps and grinning in my face. She acts just like she’s getting turned on by me.
I told this to my cousin when we were sitting on the back step, to get away from the family birthday party last weekend. He’s 19. He said she used to do that to him, until he finally told his mother at a party. She went directly to her sister, slapped her face, and screamed at her to keep her “slimy paws” off her son, or she’d call the cops.
Now I have a choice to make about dealing with my problem. My own mom’s too chicken to do anything, but my cousin’s mother goes too far. What should I do?
— Disgusted and Confused, Windsor Park
Dear Disgusted: First, should this start to happen again, tell the creepy aunt loudly enough for everybody to hear, “Back off! Stop touching me, and stop talking about my body!” You’ll only have to do that once.
Hopefully this will stop her, so you don’t have go as far as informing your cousin’s mother that her randy sister has been at it again.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: It is past the middle of summer and already I’m dreading going back to university. My parents are itching to see me back at school, but I’m in a program headed for a profession I’m no longer interested in. Big trouble!
My parents have been thrilled with “my” career choice so far. Actually it was their choice, but they forget that. I want to quit university and go north and work on an exciting scientific project I’ve been invited to participate in, and it pays well. What should I do?
— Invested in Wrong Career Path, Winnipeg
Dear Wrongly Invested: It’s time for some truth-telling, as a young person with important life choices in front of you. Tell your parents the details about this opportunity you’re eager to take, and gently add that you’re no longer going to continue in the profession they are advocating for you.
They will be hurt and upset at first, but if you stand your ground and tell them you’re going to be earning your own good money up north, they might accept it more easily. Make sure to tell them you understand they may want to withdraw future financial backing, when you come back to pursue different studies. Be firm, but as gracious as you can be, and thank them for their support so far.
Please send your questions and comments to email@example.com or Miss Lonelyhearts c/o the Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6.
Maureen Scurfield writes the Miss Lonelyhearts advice column.