Thursday, January 14, 2016

Know Yourself

In September, I started to listen to a podcast called "Nap Eclipse" by Jody Moore. (If you haven't listened to it, go check it out as soon as possible! It's life changing.) Then I started listening to the Happier Podcast (I mentioned it on Monday). One of the topics brought up in these podcasts revolves around knowing yourself and what gives you energy. Does quiet time energize you? Does being around people give you energy? In essence, are you an introvert or an extrovert? (Links to the specific podcast episodes that discuss these topics are at the bottom of the post.)

I've always loved to take personality assessments, from the Jung Personality Assessment to Carol Tuttle's Energy Types. However, one thing that has always kind of thrown me for a loop is figuring out if I'm an Introvert or an Extrovert. Whenever I take those personality assessments, I pretty much fall right in the middle of the Introvert/Extrovert continuum, and it places me on one side or the other depending on how I decided to answer the questions that day. (The internet quiz I took this morning tells me I'm an ambivert- right in the middle of the spectrum, thus confirming my conundrum!) This always left me confused. Should I spend more time around people to fill my extrovertedness? Do I need to be more of a hermit with own quiet pursuits? Recently, I had a huge realization, and it was given to me (like a gift!) by my sister, Tammy.

Tammy told me how in college she always thought of herself as extroverted, but now as a mom with kids she will find herself dreading social events. I related to this, as I have been finding it hard for me to tear myself away from the house at times too, and find myself dragging my feet to social events! This doesn't feel like my "true self" but leaving the house at night is something I have really been struggling with! I wondered if it was just becoming older, and therefore less fun. That was a depressing thought!

Then, Tammy told me that in college she had all the quiet, alone, introspective time in the world. She had time to read and study on her own, to go on a runs alone, and had her brain to herself as much as she wanted! So, by the time someone wanted to hang out at night, she was all for it! Then she said something truly profound, "I realized that as long as I had my fill of quiet time, I really enjoyed being with other people." As a mom, with almost no time to herself, going to social events was completely draining.

This really resonated with me, and the more I've thought about it, this need for introspective time probably makes me a true introvert. As an experiment,  I have been giving myself more of the quiet time that I think I have been craving. Working on a project, listening to podcasts, blogging, reading, and playing the piano, are the main things that I love to do for my own introspective time. They feel like special treats to me!

The result?  Since I've started giving myself permission for more of the quiet things I enjoy, I am finding myself more open and excited about being with people. I was really excited to go to a book group last weekend, and at church I noticed I was more outwardly focused.  I was bubbling around talking to lots of different people, and just enjoyed all the different personalities around me. I feel like I have so much more energy and excitement around being with other people and "extroverted" type activities since I began this experiment. All of this focus on my inward self, is actually freeing the space in my mind for me to focus on others. And this happy, outgoing, wants-to-be-with-people Gina? She feels like the real me.

How to Have more Energy by Jody Moore
Do you want more time with friends or more solitude? by Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Kraft

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