We can think of a million and one things that drain our introvert energy tanks. But what about filling them up completely? Is that even possible? We say yes — occasionally.
“The Golden Girls” is one of my most favorite television shows of all time, and Sophia Petrillo would be my most favorite Girl of them all. Girlfriend always kept it real and as soon as you heard her say “Picture it, Sicily, 1942” you knew you were in for a wacky story with (maybe) some sort of moral included.
Allow me to play Sophia for a moment: picture it, Buenos Aires, 2012. This was the last time my introvert energy tank was full.
Let me explain.
In September of 2012 I traveled to Brazil for work. Sunday through Wednesday I was in Rio de Janeiro and Wednesday through Thursday night I was in Sao Paulo. Parts of it were as glamorous as it sounds; the other, decidedly unglamorous parts were twelve hour days jammed with back-to-back meetings and public relations-type events. In short, it was Extrovert Paradise but Introvert Hell.
The final reception was Thursday evening and I had a 7 a.m. flight to Buenos Aires the next day – I had the weekend off and a few more meetings in B.A. on Monday. In spite of my exhaustion, the reception was fun and my colleagues and I had a great time. So much so that I drank way more than I should have, stayed out entirely too late, and, after two hours of sleep, woke up the next morning with a hangover the size of Brazil itself. To this day I consider it a minor miracle that I survived the cab ride, the airport, and the plane ride without barfing.
It was in this sorry state that I arrived at my Buenos Aires hotel. Schlepping my enormous suitcase up a small flight of stairs, head throbbing and stomach churning, I opened the door to my room. It was huge and sleek and modern and had a window that opened into an interior courtyard. Water gurgled quietly in a small fountain a few feet from the window. I pulled on my pajamas, popped more Advil, pounded a bottle of water, and burrowed into the bed.
This was the beginning of a weekend alone in a strange city in a strange country where I knew no one and no one knew me. I spent the next two delicious days in solitude, exploring various museums and neighborhoods and interacting with people only when I wanted. It was magical to rediscover the power of moving at my own pace and of simply being quiet — even in the midst of a bustling, cosmopolitan urban center.
My last meeting was over on Monday afternoon. During the mad dash to the airport I thought about whether or not I was ready to go home. And suddenly I was. I couldn’t wait to see Dreamy and Slim and Lunchbox and the full force of missing them washed over me like a tidal wave. I became acutely aware that I was an entire continent away from three people I love most in the entire world. Those two days in Buenos Aires were an incredible gift, but, my tank full, it was time to return to the roles that ground me and comprise so much of who I am.
It is somewhat startling to think that it’s been three years since I’ve felt completely “introverted up.” Of course there have been small pockets of time where I’ve been able to partially replenish but as we’ve seen it is difficult to find these pockets given the demands of two children, teaching, and General Life Stuff (laundry, that means you). Dreamy and I take them where we can and know that one day life won’t be as crazy.
Probably when we’re ready to check in to Shady Pines.
Every fall when school starts, I resolve to get the most out of my week. This year I’d devised a new work schedule with blocks of time for writing and breaks in between, with a bigger chunk of time in the afternoon for errands or the ever-present Big House Projects. (Someday I WILL tackle the craft room!)
But I noticed something—when I’m in work mode, I don’t want to do errands. Having Monday and Tuesday to hole up in my office and write after a busy weekend is heavenly, and I like to finish the week with a good chunk of work time, too. But on Wednesday I just want to go out into the world. My mom and I usually take a long walk together in the morning, and I’ve been using the afternoon for shopping or errands.
Because here’s the thing—my introvert tank CAN get full. Sometimes too full. Working at home means that some days I only interact with Doodlebug and iDad, plus whatever time I spend on Facebook or email. And some days, that’s exactly what I want and need.
My house is quiet, and I love it. But other times I like the comfortable buzz of a bookstore or seeing a friendly face at the farmers market. Not a lot of stimulation—I certainly don’t find myself randomly taking off to a kids’ puppet show at the mall. If I can choose how to drain my tank, I’ll pick a quiet way—meeting with my writing group, seeing a movie with a friend, lunch out by myself. So far, it’s working.
What about you, fellow introverts? Does your tank ever get full? What are your favorite ways to empty it . . . on your terms?