It happens far too often… I’m getting ready for a social gathering when suddenly–5 minutes or so before I have to leave–I don’t want to go anymore. It seemed so fun in prospect, but now all I want to do is curl up with a book and a mug of tea.
I am what society would call an introvert. I get drained from social situations. When given the option, I would rather spend a quiet evening at home than go out with a lot of people. I think a lot. Too much at times. But I get great satisfaction from spending time alone with my own thoughts and ideas.
This is all fine and dandy–I accept and appreciate being an introvert. Due to recent media highlights, introversion is now seen as a positive thing. Still, there are certain times when I should push myself to go out despite my inclinations to do otherwise. I want to be a dependable friend. I want to establish long-lasting relationships. I want to push myself beyond my comfort zone.
So how can I know whether to honor my natural desires or to ignore them for a night (or day)? The answer for me lies in self-honesty. There are a few things I ask myself when faced with this troubling situation.
Did I make a commitment? Are my plans spur of the moment or set in stone? Are they something that I agreed to a long time ago? If so, then I follow through with my commitment. When someone is counting on me, I must do what I feel best about–which is being reliable.
Why don’t I want to go? Sometimes it’s because I feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities that I will be leaving at home. Often times it’s because I’m tired. Every now and then, social anxiety will kick in (which is actually a sign of shyness, not introversion).
When overwhelmed, I find it helpful to make lists. I write out everything I have to do and the deadline it needs to be done by. From there, I determine whether I can manage to go out or if I need to stay in and get things done. Honesty is the most important factor here. I can tell myself that if I stay home I’ll finish all my chores, but that doesn’t mean it happens. If I’m really going to spend hours on Pinterest, then I would probably be better off going out.
There is a level of honesty that determines whether fatigue is a reason to stay home as well. How tired am I really? If I stay home, will I rest? Is there a chance that I am sick? These questions require that I be compassionate with myself and do what is truly in my best interest.
And if I am merely anxious about something, that is no reason not to go. Usually my anxiety subsides once I see that whatever I feared is not nearly as bad as I expected. (This one is a biggie for me when it comes to conquering discomfort).
What will I be missing if I don’t go?
There are times when I don’t want to go to class, but I know that the information being taught is important for me to hear. Sometimes I don’t want to go to yoga. But I have never once regretted going to yoga. Strength? Flexibility? Mental stability? All things I need. When I don’t want to go to a party or similar event, I consider what social opportunities I may miss out on if I don’t go. Maybe I’ll make a new friend. Maybe I’ll make a job connection.
This question is all about priorities. What am I okay with passing up? Yes, anything could happen on any given day. This does not mean that I have to go out every chance I get. I just have to be wise about possibilities I may miss out on.
Once I ask myself these questions I must then make a decision: Go out or stay in.
Beyond that point, it’s all over for me. No more debating back and forth in my head. I just stick with my first choice.
And whatever I choose, I own!
If I do attend said event, I will not wish that I were elsewhere (although I used to). I will not think about what I could be doing instead. I will stay present and enjoy myself–even if it leaves me exhausted by the end of the night.
If I stay home, I will not beat myself up for it (although I used to this as well). I will not label myself boring or antisocial or whatever other negative tag my mind comes up with. Instead, I will enjoy taking time for myself. I will be grateful that I am comfortable spending time alone. I will allow my introversion to manifest into a new idea or project.
And maybe I will share this idea with the new friend that I make the next time I go out.
Also by Quincy: Are You Balanced in 7 Areas of Wellness?
Photo: <rs> snaps via Flickr; leighblackall via Flickr