Thursday, May 8, 2014

The trick to being happily introverted: Know your limits

Since I finished school, I've had two main goals: (1) enjoy not being busy and (2) have fun. (Pretty great goals, right? Lots of potential for growth here.)

And by "have fun" I don't just mean watching reruns or resurrecting old projects or reading through an entire library—I'm talking about the "get out into the world" type fun. Unfortunately, when you're an introvert, this kind of fun is often more work than it is play.

All those high school stomps I went to in an attempt to have a social life? Work. Reluctant appearances at ward activities? Work. To exacerbate the problem, I've also wasted many a Friday night feeling guilty for passing on possibly memorable social experiences to hide in my room.

Sometimes I was hiding out of fear, yes, but sometimes I was hiding because I needed to be alone. Period.

After years of lofty goals, predictable failures, and mini triumphs, I think I've finally figured out what my limits are: 1–2 non-routine social activities a week. If I can meet that quota, I know I can happily skip out on other things and allow myself to recharge, guilt-free.

For example, earlier this week I was debating whether I should go to FHE. I knew I had a bridal shower and a wedding to go to later in the week, so I ceased the I-must-force-myself-to-go-to-this mind game immediately and enjoyed a lovely evening at home instead. Not only did I conserve energy by staying home, but I also conserved energy by not torturing myself with an endless pro/con list regarding the significance of going to this one activity.

I've been a much happier introvert since I figured this out. There's been much less internal turmoil over my own shortcomings and much more effective use of my energy. Sure, I'm still fully capable of working on those shortcomings, but I have a much better feel for when I should push myself and when I should just let myself be.

An introvert who abides by his or her limits as much as possible = a happy introvert.

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