“Alone doesn’t have to be lonely.” – Sam Horn
I was surprised when a well-known influencer told me she’s an introvert.
She said, “People don’t believe it because I’m such a public person, but I find it exhausting to be ‘on’ all the time.”
I told her, “I can relate. I got clarity about this last year. I had flown cross country to speak at – and attend – a conference. By the third day, I was running on empty. I remember looking at the afternoon sessions and realizing what I really wanted was go up to my room and take a nap.”
She laughed, “You just described how I feel. What did you do?”
“Well, the little voices in my head argued for a while. The FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) voice said, ‘You didn’t fly all this way to take a nap. You can’t meet new people in your room. You can sleep on the plane home.’ The other voice said, ‘I’m tapped out. I need alone time.”
She asked, “So which voice won?”
“I ended up going back to my hotel room. And I’m glad I did. I was able to recharge and come back downstairs for the evening program, raring to go.’
She said, “But didn’t you regret it? Who knows who you could have met or what you could have learned if you had gone to those extra sessions.”
“Here’s the thing. I’ve learned there are three kinds of people.
1. Introverts who are energized by solitude.
2. Extroverts who are energized by socialization.
3. Ambiverts who are energized by a balance of solitude and socialization.
I’m an ambivert. I enjoy being around people and I also enjoy not being around people. It’s not an either/or – it’s both – and it’s essential to my well-being.”
My colleague looked stunned. “I didn’t know ambiverts was a thing, but that’s totally me.”
“I’ve discovered artists, entrepreneurs and creatives often fall into this category because we are both public and private people. Our job often calls for us to be perform our work with or for people. We can be good at that and grateful for it. We also have an equal need for space and privacy which is where we re-energize. It’s where we produce our work.”
How about you? Are you an introvert, an extrovert, or a mix of both?
Does your life and work require you to be around people, attend meetings, go to networking events?
Can you do that for awhile, but then find yourself wanting to “get away?”
Even when spending time with family members or friends, do you sometimes find yourself craving space?
That doesn’t make you a loner or a bad person … that makes you an ambivert.
Wild author Cheryl Strayed says, “Alone had always felt like an actual place to me, as if it weren’t a state of being, but rather a room where I could retreat to be who I really was.”
From now on, don’t apologize for needing “room” to be who you really are. And don’t compromise it or give it up. It’s not indulgent, it’s an investment for you to be your bes self and do your best work.
What I’ve discovered as an ambivert is it’s important to have equal parts public and private time.
To do that, we’ve got to replace FOMO (FEAR of Missing Out) with JOMO (JOY of Missing Out).
It’s not selfish to set aside time to go SOULO, it’s smart.
We’re not missing or dissing anything. We’re filling ourselves back up.
If you’re going to a conference, don’t force yourself to go to all the sessions because you’re afraid you won’t get full value if you don’t.
Understand that “away” time is essential to process what you’ve learned. Getting some “alone time” is crucial to reflecting, re-fueling and coming back fresh … ready to meet, greet and connect.
At home or at work, explain to people it’s not that you don’t want to be with “them,” it’s that you need time and space to be with “you.”
Share that you’re healtheir and happier, that you’re at your best, when you have the best of both worlds.
After all, as Albert Einstein said, “Solitude is painful in youth, but delicious in maturity.”
From now, settle into the delicious knowledge that it’s not solitude OR socialization, it’s both.
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Sam Horn, CEO of the Intrigue Agency and 3-time TEDx speaker – is on a mission to help people create the life of their dreams. Her books – SOMEDAY is Not a Day in the Week, Tongue Fu! and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? – have been featured in NY Times, on NPR and presented to Boeing, Intel, Cisco, YPO, Capital One. Want Sam to speak to your group? Contact Cheri@IntrigueAgency.com