I'm not sure if you've studied up on what it means to be an introvert… I have only done this because, at times, I've simply had to in order to make sense of what feels like an overwhelming state of bat shit crazy going on in my head. Being an introvert doesn't necessarily mean that you're shy. It doesn't mean that you dislike people or that you have a fear of socializing or of sharing yourself with others. In the simplest terms, it really comes down to how an individual recharges. Those of us who find ourselves in desperate need of quiet time, alone time, non-social time in order to stay grounded and muster up the strength to push forward in this world that was obviously designed for our extroverted companions. We are the introverts.
I'm sure all of us can relate to that occasional desire for some down time… but what I'm talking about is different than that. It's more than just a monthly quiet breath of fresh air that I assume everyone on the planet could use… You see, I am honestly forced out of my comfort zone on a daily basis. I put on the face of someone else each day when I walk into work and constantly interact with my peers, those reporting to me, and those to whom I report. Each one of these interactions, which is required of me nearly every hour of every day I'm at work, is absolutely exhausting to me. Putting on this talkative, social, brave face for so many hours throughout the day requires an enormous amount of energy from me. It essentially forces me to be an extrovert every hour of every day. It's truly impossible for me to describe how completely exhausting it is.
Then I come home.
My home is the polar opposite of quiet, peaceful, and serene. My home has people. Lots of people. Little people who are excited to tell me about their day, and who crave attention, and who interrupt conversations, and who need hugs and love and food and focus. Amazing little people to whom I want to give every bit of myself…
But that girl deep inside me… she has already been running below empty for the past two hours just trying to wrap up the work day. I don't know how it is that she can survive another 3-4 hours of activity. But it's not an option. The little people… they need and deserve more than an empty gas tank… a stoic mom… But to be honest, there are many days that I come home and I completely suck at being their mom. I completely suck at it.
It's not that I don't want to do it. I want to do it. I want to be amazing for them. It's like, I love running - and I just finished running a marathon, just this minute… but now you're telling me that I'm supposed to get right back on my feet and go run some more. How do you do that?
I recently found a writer who summed it up perfectly for me:
That is how I feel every single day when I walk in the door.
When you throw on top of this, my family… my friends… people who reach out to me and love me and do so much for me. I am truly able to give them nothing right now. On the rare occasion that I actually have time to give them something of myself (which is quite rare between 3 kiddos and a demanding job), the needy one in my soul is so raw and messy at that point that I feel like I have no choice but to fold up, hide away, and try to let her recover. Otherwise, I continue to be absolutely no good to anyone.
And my dear husband, who absolutely loves a party, loves to socialize, becomes completely energized in the buzz of a crowd… has to deal with me… me, who fricking panics at thought of an impromptu gathering of friends. This dynamic has been a constant work in progress for us.
I know I have made this introvert thing out to be pretty awful, but in reality, there are some things that I truly love about it. There are things about it that make me so completely me. For starters, I am a thinker - and I love being a thinker. It is true that for every sentence I speak, I have thought at least a full page or more. This means that I have all kinds of profound things to say to the right person in the right moment, when the stars are aligned and it's time for me share :) I feel like one of my greatest gifts in life is my love and ability to deeply connect with a person. There are certain people who have crossed my path over the years who actually don't require even an ounce of my energy… they don't deplete me at all. The do quite the opposite. I can't describe how or when this happens, but it is a connection that I have with certain people that goes deeper than all the words will allow me to explain. And it is with those people that I come alive. I can talk for hours… laugh… love… share… philosophize… reflect… discover… learn… teach… grow. It is during these connections that I feel most alive. These times are more replenishing to me than just being alone (which can honestly be pretty spectacular!) You sit me with one of my people, in a lush garden, with an amazing meal, and sip of wine… and I am without a doubt the very best me that I could possibly be. And I love that me. And I know she wouldn't exist if she wasn't a thinker and didn't require time alone… if she wasn't an introvert. She wouldn't be that. And that is who I love for her to be more than anything.
So even though I struggle at times finding balance in this extroverted world, I trust that most of my heartache is simply a phase of life. There is a calmer time that awaits me, that allows me enough space to replenish so that I can love and give to the people who I was sent here to love.
In the meantime, I may just need to ask for lots of forgiveness… and possibly start taking the scenic drive home from work to rest up for my second marathon…