Monday, September 9, 2013

The Introverted Side

Awhile back I linked to this article and I've linked to a few others on the same topic. This was shortly after my friend Morgan asked me if I considered myself an introvert or an extrovert and it's something Peyton and I talk about often in regards to each other, our children, even our New York adventure.

First of all, I will say that I think it's kind of a "trendy" thing right now to declare yourself an introvert. I see people all the time say "um that doesn't make you an introvert" or "well, almost everyone is an introvert in that case". And in some ways, I agree. I think the descriptors introvert and extrovert are pretty broad and (in my opinion) can be sort of fluid. I think they're broad in the sense that they mean a lot of different things, but I also think they're narrow in the sense that they don't describe every facet of a person's personality. I think you need something like Myers-Briggs, or to a smaller (more manageable) degree, Florence Littauer (full disclosure: I've read and own this book; I've yet to really dig deeply into M-B, but it's something I really, REALLY want to do at some point).

Anyway, all that to say, I think these sort of articles are really helpful in aiding me in understanding my own personality more. I used to always think introverts were shy and quite and extroverts were outgoing and bubbly. So, naturally, being a pretty outgoing, bubbly person in social situations, I called myself an extrovert all along.

This despite the fact that, as often as not, I was as happy with a book in bed as I was with out with a group of friends on a Friday night. Or happier. Most weekends happier.

I came to understand that so much of it comes down to where you derive energy from. I do enjoy being with other people and having conversations- in fact, it's a favorite thing in life. But it depletes me. As a counter example, Peyton is not this way. He gains energy from being around others. The other day we had a really full day that included a lot of people not in our immediate family. They were some of the people I love best on Earth and the day was a happy, joyous one. But at the end of it, I was just done. Peyton couldn't stop thinking about when we could do more and who we could see the next day.

Another good case study is me and my sister. I think this one is especially fun because Cookie is what I'd consider more of what I originally understood an introvert to be. She's shy around new people and gets uncomfortable in social situations that don't really bother me. She doesn't like speaking in front of groups. But she loves to be "on the go" and during high school my parents really had to insist she spend some time at home on the weekends for her own health. She loved to hang out with friends, go to football games, and have fun at parties. I was incredibly content at home by myself or with the person I was dating, still at my parents' house, usually in pajama pants or gym shorts. I'd go out with friends some, or they'd come over, but my social calendar was nothing like hers. And it wasn't the fact that we were in different groups or anything. It was that I truly wanted a less social lifestyle.

Back when we were reading No More Perfect Moms  it talked about how we're all busy and such, but sometimes it's selfishness that keeps us from building close friendships with other women. We just have our own agenda and our plans seem so all important. Anyway, I see two sides to this coin. Because it's true. But, for me, it's also true that if I overburden myself with this, I'll be miserable. I learned this Summer how liberating it is to have THICK margins built into our days and not too many obligations. Anyway,  I've told myself that if I can (accept an invitation, extend one, ect.), I will. Even if it's uncomfortable or inconvenient. This is great, because when I can't, when I know I'm in such a state that it will make me miserable and frustrate me, I feel a peace about saying "no". The no's are at times more frequent and in other seasons less so, it just depends. But I feel good about them, because I know I'm pushing myself a little bit outside my comfort zone some (most?) of the time.

For example, a friend called me awhile back and wanted to do something on a Saturday. I fight really hard to not whine about Saturdays because I know we're very fortunate to be in the situation we're in. But it always annoys me when Peyton has to work so many Saturdays and I see everyone else on Facebook and Instagram with their husbands. Of course it balances out because nobody else's husband has as many weekdays off as he does. Anyway, back to the point. A friend was kind enough to invite me and the kids over one Saturday she knew Peyton was working. Part of me really didn't want to go. I've kind of gotten to where I can embrace the Saturday and sometimes it's my most productive day. I wanted to catch up on laundry and mop the floors and then read, blog and maybe do something else for myself. But, it was a day where I knew I could do it and I wouldn't be completely undone by it. So, I did. And it was fun. Like really fun! But I have given myself to the freedom to give a 'no' when I really need to.

This article by Don Miller is sort of the converse side of what No More Perfect Moms was saying. He talks about how he very carefully manages the time he spends with people and balances it with alone time; this helps him avoid what he calls a "People Hangover". It's really good and it helped me realize that the boundaries I've (consciously and subconsciously) drawn are okay and I don't have to feel guilty about protecting my sanity.

Which brings me to this post. It discusses how impractical Miller's advice is for someone with small children. "The past thirteen-plus years for me have been one long exercise in welcoming the messy, noisy, needy people who are my children. They make it hard to get anything done, especially writing. But without them, I'm not sure I'd have anything worthwhile to write, or for others to read. More and more, I am convinced that much of value in life simply cannot be managed; it must instead be welcomed with grace."  This particular sentence brought tears to my eyes because it so describes where I am right now. 

But I do practice a few forms of self-care. One of my biggest is that there are very few people whose phone calls I will answer during naptime. It is what it, but I used to feel tremendous guilt over it. I finally came to realize that practicing self care meant giving myself the grace to build fences around my time and then be protective of them when there were (unintentional, of course) attempted break-ins.

I think the main thing for me with all of this is that it comes down to finding a balance. This Summer showed me that I really thrive when I don't have too much on my plate. And when it comes to activities that involve our whole family, since I'm married to someone who is very different from me, it comes down to compromise, too. I have to be willing to accommodate some of Peyton's business (when we were dating and early on in our marriage, I said "no" to way too many things he truly wanted to do) and he has to be understanding and realize that wanting alone time and space and carving out time in my day for me isn't selfish or lazy, though that's his initial reaction, I know.

I think this is all so interesting and realizing these things about myself has sort of (seemingly dramatic overstatement ahead!) revolutionized my life. It's also really helped our marriage. I can't wait to see how our children's personalities develop in this regard....although, I have a hunch, do you? ;)

1 comment:

Carrie said...

This is so interesting to me too! I could analyze personalities all day, and I feel like I'm pretty good at figuring other people's personalities out, but I'm SO BAD at figuring out my own. Ha! I honestly can't decide if I'm an introvert or an extrovert. I feel like I'm exactly like you described your sister. The thought of speaking in public or having all of the attention on me makes me want to crawl into a hole, and I would rather do pretty much anything else on earth other than play an ice breaker game, but the thought of spending my weekend at home in my pajamas makes me want to cry. Haha! Sometimes we just go to Target and walk around because, even if I don't speak to anyone, I just need to be around PEOPLE.