6 life lessons for introverts who love people-time

Guest post by Meghan Hartley, 2015

I am an outgoing introvert. Oxymoron, you say? Nope, you said wrong!

People frequently clump shyness and introversion together as the same thing, but it’s not. It was an “ah-ha” moment when I learned the actual definition of introversion. It has nothing to do with shyness, which is a fear of social situations.

An introvert is someone who is introspective by nature. Engaging in said introspection is what recharges an introvert. Being alone to sort through one’s conscious feelings and thoughts is imperative to the introverted person. Extended social time is draining to an introvert. When shit hits the fan an introverted person generally doesn’t say, “I need to call so and so now,” they say, “I need to be alone, bugger off!”

There’s a range of introversion (like everything, ’tis a very gray world, not black and white), and some introverts would really prefer everyone bugger off most of the time. Then there are people like me who adore people-time, but get exhausted from it. I love connecting with others. I need to connect with others. I adore telling stories and shooting the shit. I’ll get just as cranky if I go a couple days without decent conversation as I do if I don’t get my recharge time! It’s a very careful balance, and one that perplexed me before I pinpointed exactly what was going on.

To sum up, folks on this area of the intro-extroversion scale (ambiverts) need to have quality people-time, just as much as we need to have quality no-people-time. If either side weighs too heavily we feel “unsorted.” Bajiggity. I know that’s not a real word, but I find it perfect to describe the anxious-emo-crankiness that I get from unbalanced people-time expenditure.

But I’ve done some research on this topic, primarily by feeling awkward at social commitments, just to give fellow people-time loving introverts these tips…

Figure out CaveTime

Sort out how much awesome alone time you personally need. For me it’s three good chunks (four-ish hours) a week, at least. Any less and the bajiggity sets in. I generally enjoy even more!

Make time for CaveTime

Actually schedule it, and commit. It can be hard if something comes up to be like, “oh, no, I have plans to hang out by myself.” But remember that it’s more than that. It’s what you need to recharge and maintain a balanced and pleasant mental landscape — it is very important. If you do need/want to do something else, reschedule CaveTime and make sure to fit it in later.

Make CaveTime plans

How exactly are you going to spend your treasured alone time? If the answer is “I dunno… dinner and hanging around the house,” that’s not good enough! What are you going to cook? Are you going to watch a movie? Pick out a really good one in advance. Are you going to do something creative? Get amped about whatever you’re making. Will you hike? Where? Find new music? How? Pin it down. Planning a proper night will help you commit to CaveTime, as well as making sure that you get the most out of it.

Kick FOMO’s ass

I used to have a serious case of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out, it’s totally a real thing). I had a really hard time saying no to invites, then I’d wind up feeling awkward — wishing I was home with a paintbrush, or a notepad, or Netflix, or whatevs. Now I say “maybe.” Maybe is a truly magical word.

Pick your people-time carefully

Check in with yourself to see how you feel after spending time with someone, or a group of people. You will find some people to be more draining than others. Choose people that you have a genuine connection with. I wrote an article here awhile ago about pros and cons of coupling and a few of you commented that you’ve found partners that don’t even count as “people”! Like, you can CaveTime with them there and still feel recharged! Mannnn, that’s sexy.

Try going out alone

I find that I often enjoy quality introspective time, as well as snippets of fun and interesting conversation when a book is my only partner in crime. Sometimes I show up early when meeting friends so I can recharge a bit before hanging.

Prepare for people-filled times

Wedding weekend? Vacay back home? These things are a delightful nightmare for me. I have a total blast, but don’t recharge for a few days, then all of a sudden I feel super-duper bajiggity, and wind up missing out on being present for some really great times. Boooo. Recharge beforehand, make excuses to hang out solo at opportune times, and chill out CaveTime when the event is over.

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