I was surprised when a well-known author/speaker told me she’s an introvert. She said, “People don’t believe I’m shy because I’m such a public person. But I find it exhausting to be around people all the time.”
I told her, “I can relate. I got clarity about this last year. I had flown across an ocean and a continent to attend a conference. By the third day, I was running on empty. I remember looking at the 4-5 pm break-out sessions and realizing what I really wanted to do was go back to my hotel 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 pay all this money and fly all this way to take a nap. You can sleep on the plane home.’
The other voice said, ‘But my mind’s full. I don’t have the bandwidth to attend another program even if it’s packed with valuable information.”
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 my batteries and I came back downstairs, raring to go, for the evening events.’
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 that extra session.”
I told her, “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 combination of solitude and socialization.
That’s me, an ambivert. I’ve learned not to apologize or feel guilty for wanting ‘alone time,’ 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 told her, “I’ve discovered many creatives – authors, artists, entrepreneurs – fall into this category because we are both public and private people.
Our job often calls for us to perform our work in front of, with, or around people.
We can be comfortable with that, even good at it, but at the same time we have a need and desire to get away from people so we can replenish our energy and create our work.”
I think Susan Cain, the author of QUIET, said it really well, “The trick for introverts is to honor their styles instead of allowing themselves to be swept up by prevailing norms.”
I think her advice to honor our style works for all of us:-)
How about you? Are you an introvert, an extrovert, or a mix of both?
Does your work require you to be in the spotlight? Can you do that, but find yourself itching to get away for some quality alone time?
How do you balance your need for solitude and socialization?
How do you explain it to the people in your life so they understand and accept it?