God Made Us For Community -- An Introvert's Survival Guide
As a writer, most of my work is solitary. I have to be alone to think, and I have to be alone to write. In fact, I wake up earlier than anyone in my house so I can have the time to alone to do both of those things.
But lately, I've noticed that I keep creating things that involve community -- I want friends to write with, friends to work with, friends to do life with. I know I'm an introvert -- meaning I re-charge by being alone (which rarely happens). So what gives? Why all the community seeking?
I think it's a matter of the right community. Some communities drain the life out of me and leave me feeling absolutely drained. But some make me feel alive. The trick is knowing which is which -- and when this introvert just needs to call it a day and get some solid alone time.
If you're a true introvert like me, you probably know what I'm saying. I've learned a bit about us, friend. Here's some survival tips I've picked up that help.
KNOW WHEN ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
Yesterday was my son's birthday, and to celebrate, we went to a loud restaurant / arcade / alternate neon-light-filled universe-with too many people. As we neared the end of our time there, I was ready to crawl out of my skin. This time, however, knowing my introvert ways, I turned to my husband and my friend Nicole and said, "See ya!" Then I took my also-introverted daughter and found a quieter spot, away from all that over-stimulation, to rest and wait for our crew. The change in my energy and attitude was immediate. I no longer wanted to kill someone. And I no longer felt like I was about to pass out.
NOTICE HOW YOUR "FRIENDS" MAKE YOU FEEL
Do the people you hang out with make you feel energized, alive, and excited? Or do they bring chaos wherever they go? Do they make you feel as if you can conquer the world? Or when you leave their company, do you feel worse about yourself?
I've had friends who took digs, I've had friends who seemed to be raving fans. I've learned that not all friends lift me up or make me feel better about myself. And with friends like that....
But at the same time, I've also become wary of friends who seem more like raving fans. Someone who only ever praises me will eventually be disappointed in me -- and usually, those people end up leaving our friendship, and we're both hurt as a result. While it's nice to be around people who think you're awesome, it's more realistic to be with people who love you for who you actually are, not who they think you to be.
SCHEDULE TIME TO BE ALONE
If you're an introvert, this is your lifeline, and you need to prioritize it. Put it on your calendar, ask your life partner for it, do what it takes to make it happen. Only you are in charge of your calendar, and only you can make this a priority.
ONLINE COMMUNITIES CAN HELP
I have friends IRL, obviously. But they are few. My schedule just simply does not allow for tons of socializing, and quite frankly, most of it exhausts me even when I do have time. That's why I love curating online community. It's manageable -- because I control if and when I engage. And yet I've still created incredibly meaningful relationships that have enriched my life. I have businesses partners I've never met in real life, and I've met women who, when I finally did meet, hugged me long and hard because it was as if we were coming home. Match.com has nothing on me, and I'm not even looking for a husband!
Maybe that's why I've created two online communities that I'm crazy excited about. One is a community of Christian writers, called DoveWriters, who get together for 12 week stints in which we write and read each other's work. The other is The Banquet, an online membership community that begins in July of this year.
Perhaps you'll find your place in one or both of these communities! How fun would that be? Then, we introverts can connect, while still making sure we get the alone time we all need.