I have always considered myself an extrovert.
As I sit in my family’s holiday home, blinds open revealing the lake across the green grass and the setting sun creating a sparkle off the water through the bushes, I think about how peaceful it is.
Going away with 7 of your family members straight after a busy term of teaching probably isn’t what the doctor ordered. Teaching is exhausting. It’s draining. It takes everything from you. My family is fun, loud, dramatic, very loving and very social. I love them with everything I have, but sometimes I’m too tired for it all.
A year ago I did much the same thing – I finished term 3 and came down south straight away for a Girls’ Getaway. Back then I didn’t know how to look after myself amongst a large group, especially when I already felt so low.
I can be very fun, loud, dramatic, loving, and social.
But I’ve come to realise there’s another part of me.
A part that likes to be alone, quiet, gentle, contemplative.
It’s this side of me that I didn’t know I needed. I didn’t know it existed.
When I first got married, I went from living with my fun, loud, dramatic, loving and social family, to living with my husband. Matthew is quiet, introverted, and enjoys alone-time often. I felt lost, confused, withered. As an extrovert, I didn’t know how to recharge by myself.
Then I became a teacher and at the same time Matthew and I found ourselves living with my parents while we waited a couple months for our house-build to be over. I didn’t know what was wrong with me – I was surrounded by people, and I was going crazy.
It all came crashing down in term 3 on this Girls’ retreat, when I found myself staying in the car while everyone went in for ice cream. I needed some space. It resulted in a very embarrassing set of tears, and not being able to explain what was wrong. I just felt confused. How could I feel so lost when I was surrounded by people? I love being surrounded by people! Especially some of my favourite gal-friends.
It was then that I realised I needed to accept that I also needed to recharge by myself. That I needed to stop going to every event just because I had a deep fear of missing out.
I would find myself surrounded by people, and wishing I was at home by myself snuggled up with a good book. Or creating concrete pots. Or simply in a bath. Maybe that’s just part of growing up.
So here I am, on a big family holiday. I feel peaceful. I’m not close to a breakdown, ready to run and hide. Why? Because I’ve made decisions about what events I want to be part of – not ones that I’m too scared to miss out on. I’ve decided to remove myself from the centre of the group, and go for a run. Or miss out on dominating at a board game, and gone for a quiet bath instead. I’ve gone to bed when I’ve been tired – not when the party has died down. And I’ve loved hanging out with my family when we’ve all gone out.
And so, as I sit watching the setting sun, I’m amazed at how much I’ve grown this past year. I know I won’t always get the balance right, but finally, I’ve made a huge step forward.
I love being my normal self – fun, loud, dramatic, loving, and social – and embracing my former extrovert ways.
But there’s another part of me, and I love that part just as much.
That part loves to be alone, quiet, gentle, contemplative.
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