+ trying to strike the balance
I read a tweet recently from Steph Crowder, who runs a great community over @ Courage & Clarity btw, and is an ENFP if you're wondering :)
Here it is:
How I know I’m an extrovert: I crave alone time, but the most “alone” I wanna be is having lunch by myself in a busy restaurant. 🤷♀️ introverts do you like this type of thing? Or would you rather have alone time in solitude?
It got me thinking about my relationship with 'alone time'.
This is a post about alone-time in general, and also about time spent alone vs time spent with others.
The thing is, I feel like a bit of a contradiction here.
On the one hand, as an introvert, I absolutely adore being alone. Whether it's writing on my sofa at home, or watching an episode of something on Netflix, or reading whilst sat outside... I love being alone. (I also like a train journey, there's just something about train journeys...).
Basically, I love my solitude, I really do.
But as much as I love it, it's also a fine line for me. Being alone for too long can eventually become not such a good thing, and if I'm not careful I can slip into feeling isolated.
I've gotten better at understanding myself and my energy levels.
For example, I quickly realised that being at home alone all day is not the best thing in the world for me. I'd much rather have, say, a half day working from home, and then the second half working from my gym cafe or somewhere else where there's at least people around me, even if I'm not talking about them.
So, for my alone time, I like it to be a mix of actual alone time, and alone time where I've got others around me.
Or, if I'm at home alone, I'll have music/TV playing in the background, which helps me not feel so alone.
It really is a fine balance between the two for me.
Some other things I do to manage this balance:
- Each week, I try to socialise in person with a friend
For me, I have noticed just how crucial friendships/relationships with family members are to me, and nourishing. It's *all* about quality over quantity. (i.e. no to small talk, yes to interesting chats, or otherwise doing an activity in each others' company - e.g. reading in the living room, watching a theatre show)
- I'm part of a couple of online groups, and I have a regular video call with my Mastermind Group, which helps me get interaction & support
As someone who works remotely/from home, these communities are great. For now at least, I don't do co-working spaces due to the cost and the distance. Being a Londoner, I'd rather avoiding spending 90mins' travel each day (though it used to sometimes be 90mins - each way! - in the past!, as it's not conducive to my time or energy, though I do often write on train journeys.
- I avoid stacking a particular day with lots of activities or socialising or events
e.g. after I've had a nourishing chat/social event, I can then get carried away and arrange meets with other friends / otherwise put my down to do stuff. I still sometimes get carried away, but I've gotten better at taking a step back, breathing, and realising that - if I get too carried away - it'll all come crashing down and I'll feel exhausted the next day
- If I've had a day (or two) where I've been particularly "social", I schedule the next day or two to be less energetic
The weekends for me are a mixture of doing something fun, or just chilling out, depending on what my mood/energy levels are saying. I am trying to nudge myself to try and take more advantage of everything there is to often in London, and experience more things & places.
e.g. I was out for dinner last night, got back around 11.30ish and then stayed up for a couple of hours after that... I was still feeling a little 'hyper/energetic' after 3.5hrs of socialising)
Needless to say, I had a lie-in today and got started with work slightly later on, and today is far more chilled!
In summary, for me, I adore my alone time but I also balance this with not-so-alone time, in the form of working from cafes and coffee shops (usually my gym one), or actually 1-to-1 or small-group 'hanging out' with friends. (Of which I have a small circle, and am consciously trying to spend time with others who are likeminded, and whose company I enjoy & find nourishing).
My feeling is that all of us, whether introvert or extrovert, need alone time vs not-so-alone time to differing extents.
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