I’m what they call an extroverted introvert or as I like to call it a “social introvert.”
“NO, you’re not, you’re the most extroverted person I know!” everyone says. But let’s break this extrovert/introvert concept down…
You see, if we were sitting face-to-face, if we had just met, I’m that girl that can talk your ear off. I’ll give you the biggest, warmest hug and start asking you about yourself. I can walk right up to anyone and introduce myself with zero fear. I’m talented at small-talk, can hold deep conversations with just about anybody, love public speaking, and I’m the LIFE of the party! Get me on a dance floor with some good tunes, and I will WERK IT.
It’s because I’m social. I’m curious. I love people, and I love conversation, witty dialogue, and good times. You would assume I’m an extrovert. I play a good one at that!
But underneath the chatty social butterfly is a quiet thinker, an intense observer, a dreamer that loves a private life off of the internet. I can hold things close to the vest, and emotional support and trust is paramount to me. Years ago in college I noticed how I loved being cozy in my dorm room or in a bookshop, contemplating, reading and writing in my journal. I noticed how refreshed I felt after spending quality time alone. Maybe it’s from being an only child that spent a good deal of time playing imaginary make-believe, climbing trees and writing in notebooks. Or maybe it’s from living a very social life in my late teens/early twenties in New York City. But here’s what I’ve learned…
It all comes down to one important question:
How do you recharge? More importantly, where do you get your energy? This is the question to ask yourself to see whether you are an introvert or extrovert. You could be like me and be the most social, bubbly, people-lover there is, but where you get that life and energy is an entirely different thing.
If you’re an extrovert, you get your energy from social interactions, from group gatherings, talking with others, and meeting new people. It could mean saying “yes” to new experiences and getting out of the house.
If you happen to be an introvert like me, you refuel by having quiet time alone. It could look like a reflective walk in the park, reading a novel in a coffee shop, or being alone and cozy at home. That looks a lot like saying “no” to social engagements if you don’t feel filled. It looks like putting your alone time high on your list of priorities. And that’s okay! For when you are ready and fully charged up, you bring your best version of yourself to every single person you come across.
When your cup is full, when you feel recharged and ready to get out there, everyone you meet gets the higher version of you. After spending time alone, my friends and the people I meet along my day meet the joyful, bubbly, open and free-spirited Helena that is my essence. When I don’t have time to myself at all during the day, even if it’s just a 30 minutes free-write in my journal, I get easily irritable, quiet, and moody. For extroverts they may get irritable being alone at home and not having enough social interaction with friends.
70% of my day is spent alone, quietly catering to my inner being and creating. I use this time to reflect and go inward, ask my heart questions that my head doesn’t want to answer. It looks like writing on my blog or scribbling my dreams down in my journal, quiet strolls along the river, listening to spiritual podcasts and editing my client galleries. It looks like free time walking dogs and volunteering with the animals at my local shelter. Spending time alone allows me to listen. It helps me follow my heart and dreams and get the courage to take action. I also intentionally choose to make my days as simple as possible. Staying at home is a treasure. Working from the comforts of my coffee shop is a gift from GOD! I get enough social interaction from chatting with the baristas at my coffee shop or bumping into my neighbors while walking in the park. Too many plans on the calendar stresses me out. Overall theme? I don’t need much. Simplicity is key, and I enjoy a simpler life than the one I used to have.
No longer do I…
These days I choose to travel less, see less and instead, I experience more time inward…into my heart, into my mind, into my spirit. These days quality one-on-one conversation with a friend over a good meal is more important to me than being seen going out with a group of girlfriends. I still enjoy the other things, of course – I am a social butterfly after all! But I’m more intentional with my time. The older I become, the more intentional I become with my days. Life is fragile, and I say “no” more often than I used to when I was 20 running wild in the streets of N.Y.C., filling my calendar with social events, and dancing late into the night on the weekends.
But when you see me after my solo morning writing, you get the girl that’s the first one on the dance floor. You get the bubbly gal taking your portraits, cracking jokes and dancing with your kids on the beach. You get the gal that never seems to run out of things to say, that’s always down for loud laughs and adventures and gives the best hugs in the world.
For an introvert, alone time is the golden ticket – it is the key to the best times.
Welcome to the complicated life of a social introvert.
Photos by the talented Becca Gerbino in Paris
October 30, 2018