I am an introvert.
Before you label me a happy hermit, let me myth-bust that term a bit.
Like many traits that have no absolute definition, being an introvert looks different on me that it does on other people. In fact, many people who know me would argue that I’m not an introvert because I love being around people and going to do things in the community. However, there is a wide spectrum between truest introvert and truest extrovert and I fall on the introvert side, but pretty close to the middle.
For me, being an introvert means that I get my energy from time alone. I charge my batteries by myself, and then want to spend that energy with people. I love going out and experiencing things in my city. I adore live music, going to the theatre, and trying new restaurants. But, when I’m done I’m done. I love the energy of a crowd until I don’t. I most often prefer time with just one or two people I like to be around, even if that means just sitting around and playing a game, talking or watching a show. As an introvert, I’m also not afraid to go to things alone, and even enjoy that more sometimes.
I can also network/hobnob like a boss…but I HATE IT. That’s another introvert trait. For me small talk is THE WORST. I want to have conversations of substance whenever possible. I’m not a “let’s try to get to the core of all the world’s problems over coffee” kind of person. The topics don’t have to be heavy. But, I crave connection. Meaningful, genuine connection with other people. I want to listen to you and for you to listen to me. One of the worst things you can do to an introvert like me is cut them off, ignore them in conversation, or just never respond to a message.
I have a small group, who don’t necessarily overlap with each other, who are my core friends that know me best. I know a lot of people and enjoy a lot of people, but few get to know every layer of me.
I like it that way.
Over the last few years, all our our lives have changed in many ways. Some have married and had children. Several have moved around, both within the state and farther. All of us have changed jobs at some point. With those life changes, relationships have evolved.
Evolution is natural. It’s happening in and around us all the time.
Thank goodness, right? Who wants everything and everyone to always stay the same. I sure don’t. I want to grow and I want growth for the people I love.
However, with evolution comes challenges. When a friend is also a parent it’s harder to schedule time together. I love all of their children, and happily spend time with them, but sometimes it’s nice for just the adults to get together and do something that isn’t kid friendly. With the start of a new job or the coming of a promotion, it’s harder to make and keep plans. Things come up. The priority can’t always be friends when there are other more urgent things demanding attention.
We still see each other, even if sometimes only once a month, and I am grateful for every meaningful moment. But, those moments are coming fewer and farther between.
So, I find myself with more and more time alone.
Even for an introvert, too much time alone can do the opposite of charge your batteries. Just like you should take your phone off the charger when it’s at 100%, introverts like me need to use the energy we’ve saved or it damages our ability to charge well later on. With too much alone time, the enjoyment of solitude and self-care is robbed of it’s joy. We end up feeling trapped in the places that are usually our sanctuaries.
It’s the worst. Worse than small talk. Almost the very worst feeling a social introvert like me can feel.
To be transparent, I’ve been feeling that way a lot lately.
I’ve gone to too many things alone. Had too many nights or weekend days without a connection.
This first started hitting me hard when the weather began to change. It was just a bit too chilly to spend the evenings on the porch where I could technically be by myself but also exposed to the energy of life in my neighborhood. The move indoors was tough. I sat alone inside trying to occupy myself meaningfully, mostly to no avail.
I started internalizing the circumstances and feeling left out, rejected, and sad, even angry.
Then it hit me. While watching the leaves fall at a stoplight on my drive to work, feeling alone already at the start of the day…
This place that feels like a bare tree is actually a blank canvas, and I am not trapped anywhere I do not choose to stay.
Like those relationships that have evolved, I am evolving. This doesn’t resign me to being along, it frees me to possibilities! (If I choose to see it that way.)
I may be in my 30s, but I can make new friends. They will never replace the friends I have, but there is space for new in my life, so why not welcome it?
There must be other people like me, who are looking for good people to do fun things with, or stay in and watch a movie, or sit at a coffee shop and talk about more than the weather.
Thinking about it made me excited.
I felt a switch flip and was reminded of a bigger truth.
No matter how I FEEL sometimes, I am not alone. There are people I love who love me and no matter how the circumstances of our daily lives change over time the core of those connections will never change.
We will be there for each other, but it will look different, and where my time is not spent with them, there is space for new things I can’t see yet that will someday become things I can’t imagine being without.
So, for any of you, like me, who have been feeling a little too alone, hold on to this lesson from the leaves. You aren’t losing things, you’re just getting ready for something new to be added to you.
Dive into more life insights from #Fleurish with Lori HERE!