Note: This is a guest post by Colton Leadley, Lauri and Glenn’s oldest son.
Being introverted can make a what should be an exciting experience (going to Disneyland with your whole family) turn into a complete catastrophe. All human beings recharge their energy levels the same way; when we sleep at night. The difference between introverts and extroverts is how our energy levels are affected when we socialize. While extroverts increase their energy levels while being around people and socializing, these situations actually degrade introvert’s energy levels and physically exhaust them. In addition, there are more extroverts than introverts which makes them wrongfully stand out as “antisocial” or “weird”. You can see how going to Disneyland with your entire family could be an exhausting experience for those of us who are not as socially inclined.
I consider myself to a “healthy” introvert or a “sociable” introvert. This means I do like being around people and value friendships/family. However, I get worn out a lot faster in social situations than most people do. So initially walking in to Disneyland the excitement and chaos of everything is great but I soon start to get worn out and it quickly turns into the opening seen of Saving Private Ryan just replace the morbidity and carnage with happiness and Mickey.
Since I value my family and friendships so much I try to stick it out for the whole day but usually end up getting tired, irritable, and unpleasant to be around. This is why people that are more introverted can have a bad day at Disneyland. Being 26 years old and having been in the realm of adulthood for 8 years now I think I have figured out a strategy to optimize an experience such as Disneyland. The strategy is to follow these simple steps;
- identify if you’re an introvert,
- get a good night’s rest,
- tough it out as long as possible,
- take a nap,
- bring a book and use it as an excuse,
- and do your best not to get irritable.
The first thing on the strategy list is to identify if you’re an introvert. I probably didn’t figure out that I had introverted tendencies until my senior year in high school when my mom mentioned it. By this point in my life I had already endured several Disney trips because my family loves Disney. By the time I was 15 I learned to hate these trips and would spend most of the trip in the hotel room which made me seem lame and boring to my family. You can’t solve an issue if you don’t identify the issue to begin with.
Next is probably the most important part of my strategy and it is get a good night’s sleep. At least in my case the biggest problem I have when I am tired is being irritable. Going to Disneyland on a poor night’s sleep (especially as an introvert) is like trying to launch a rocket to space on a broken platform. Build your platform starting 8 hours before those early Disneyland wake up times. Bring some ear plugs too if your family snores and you share a hotel with them like I do.
Next is eating. At Disneyland you are burning more calories than you think. It may not be an intense and short workout like going to the gym but you are working at a low intensity for a long period of time. Whether you are walking between rides, stiff-arming other people’s grandmas out of the way so that your grandma can sit down, or being a mega-uncle and carrying both of your nieces through the entire It’s A Small World line, you are burning calories. You are not allowed to bring outside food or beverages into Disneyland so you can either buy their insanely priced, subpar tasting, and detrimental to your health snack food or you can do what I do and sneak it in. Be creative.
Next is tough it out as long as possible. When you feel the Disney environment starting to weigh you down try to hang in there and be a good time for yours and your family’s sake. If you make it a good long while and your family sees that you are trying to be a good time they will understand when it’s time for you to go to the next step which is take a nap. When it’s all said and done when you are done you are done and you need a break.
Next is take a nap. I would always keep a hotel room key on you. It’s a way of controlling your own destiny and is crucial for an introvert. Plus, you’ll have access to the room when no one else does and you can go have some alone time for a nap. Take 30-60 minutes to nap. Anything shorter will be ineffective and anything longer will most likely leave you feeling groggy which doesn’t help with irritability. If you wake up and still aren’t ready read the book in the next step or find a solo activity like the hotel hot tub to blow of some steam.
Next is bring a book. A true introvert’s version of a party is reading a book. Find a good one and bring it along and use it as an excuse to get away during the day or night. Find a quiet space somehow or someway, it is hard but possible in that chaotic place. These family trips offer very few opportunities to get away from people because everyone shares a living space and everyone does everything together. It can be too much for an introvert and it’s okay. You just need to find a place to escape and communicate that with your family. If they are cool they will understand.
Lastly, do your best not to get irritable. It’s hard being an introvert and getting tired around people. It makes it even harder when people don’t understand why you don’t want to be around them even though you love them. Do your best not to fight with your family on this issue, instead open a fine line of communication and explain that it’s nothing that they did rather it is just your nature. Getting irritable and causing a family fight just because you need a couple hours to yourself is stupid. Find a way to communicate effectively and do what you need to do. Lighten up. After all, it’s “the happiest place on earth.”
Colton Leadley served four years in the Special Forces and Communications in the US Navy. He is now attending Arizona State University on the GI Bill and is majoring in Health and Wellness.