On Friday’s, I usually do five fun things. But today, as I was trying to come up with five things, only one came to mind. So here’s the one thing:
If you look it up in the dictionary, there’s a good chance you’d see a picture of me. I’ve always been known as “shy” or “quiet.” My mom had to coax me to speak as a child. I was often found hiding—under tables, behind my mother—until I was too old to do so.
It wasn’t until college that and I took a personality test that I found out that I was introverted and learned what that meant. To be more specific: I’m an INFJ (Introversion, iNtuition, Feeling, Judging). Only 1-3% of the population are INFJs, making us the rarest or weirdest, depending on how you look at it.
For the longest time, I looked down at myself because I wasn’t more outgoing. One of my older sisters is the complete opposite of me, and being a little sister, I always wished I was more like her. Had more friends. Went out more. Did more things. It seemed to me that being shy is a strike against you in this world. In this life. Being a shy, introvert is a double-whammy. Not only does being around others (mostly unfamiliar others) makes me uncomfortable, it drains me as well. So, I spent a good deal of time pushing myself to be more outgoing, and not only failing, but tiring myself out, too.
These days, I’m totally at one with my introvert nature, and try to set aside quiet time for myself. But the past twelve months have been extremely busy. We put our house on the market last October. Sold in November. Moved in December. Spent 2.5 weeks traveling Argentina and Peru with my in-laws end of Dec-Jan. Trip to OK in Jan. Feb-March in London. 9 Days in NYC in May. 7 days in PA in June. 4 days in GA in July. 3 Days in San Diego in July. 3 Days in Galveston in Aug. 5 Days in OK in Aug. And then packed up the rental house and moved to London end of Aug-Sept. That’s not counting starting a business and writing two books.
To some people, this might not seem like a big deal, but I like to take things slow. I soak everything in and think about it. Process it. Each trip I took was highly social, and in between, I had friends and family I wanted to see because I knew I’d be moving to London for a year at the end of the summer. As I grew more exhausted in July and August, I shoved the introvert way down and said, I’ll have quiet time in London. So, I packed in as much as I possibly could.
Y’all, I’m here to tell you that going against one’s nature is not a super fantastic idea.
The past two weeks, all I’ve wanted to do was curl up in a ball under my covers and hide from the world. I’ve needed a ton of quiet time. I was in a funk, and I couldn’t figure out why. I didn’t even want to call my family, which is not good. I just wanted to not speak to anyone other than LH.
I was worried because I wasn’t writing (a few hundred words per day doesn’t really count for me when I can easily do two thousand words in a few hours). I wasn’t doing much of anything except what I absolutely had to do. Was it depression? Or worse, writer’s block? But it didn’t feel like either of those, because I’d experienced both before. What was my deal? Why was I feeling so sluggish? Why couldn’t I focus on my current WIP (a.k.a. Work In Progress) when I’m known for my determination on projects?
I honestly couldn’t figure it out, and I started to panic. What if it WAS writer’s block? That would be a nightmare. Or maybe it was extra-horrible and I’d lost it entirely? Maybe I’d lost my passion for writing! How could that happen?!
It was a panicked thought, and once I took a deep breath, realized it was impossible. I love writing. It didn’t make any sense. Why was I feeling the way I was feeling? I needed to get to the bottom of it, and quick.
So, this afternoon I did what an introvert is good at, and spent a little time in my own inner space.
Man, was I dumb.
I’m a completely burnt out introvert.
I’ve been going around feeling like I’m an empty vessel and thinking that it was because there was something wrong with my writing. I re-read chapters, and thought…they’re not bad. They’re actually kind of good, but I couldn’t add to them.
Cue lightbulb moment: it wasn’t my creative well that was empty, it was me.
The relief I felt was palpable. Thank fuck it’s not writer’s block.
Now, I’m writing again, (Phew!) and enjoying the silence around the flat. I’m sure at some point I’ll look for someone else to hang out with besides Le Hubby (because he doesn’t count toward my introversion drain). But for now, a cone of silence is in order. It’s been a nuts year. This girl needs a time out. A working time out, but a time out all the same.
It’s been yet another lesson learned. I chose to ignore the signs. To push myself beyond what I could do. Beyond what was in my nature to do. I wore myself out.
The lesson I learned is to be present in the choices you make. What’s right for everyone else might not be right for you, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Be kind to your mind and body.
To those of you who are introverts, don’t be afraid to have some quiet time. There’s nothing wrong with slowing things down when you can or taking time to soak in your surroundings. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re depressed or not right or a weirdo. There’s nothing wrong with being an introvert. In fact, I think it makes you special.
And in case any extroverts are still reading this, I think you’re special, too. In fact, I love my extroverts so much that I married one.