Everyone’s a Vampire: Being an Introvert in an Extroverted World
I am lucky enough to know a lot of amazing people. I have a wonderful family, amazing friends, exceptional clients, and fantastic colleagues. It is important to me that I spend time with the people in each of these groups on a regular basis. I play in a recreational volleyball league with a group of friends. I see my family and my husband’s family almost every weekend. I volunteer with BGCBigs with a little sister every Tuesday. I plan regular dinners and lunches with my friends each week. My role in our business now focusses on business development so I have meetings, coffees, lunches, and events almost every day. Every last one of these interactions sucks away at my limited pool of energy until I am completely drained.
I am an introvert.
Most people would not likely think this about me. I am sociable, I get along well with others, and I can walk in and out of conversations with ease. Yet, I dislike small talk, find crowds overwhelming, and being around other people is generally exhausting.
Introverts vs. Extroverts
- Introversion is often associated with being shy while extroversion is associated with being outgoing.
- While these can be attributes of either, the characteristics of both are instead defined by how you get energy.
- Extroverts get energy from being around other people and are drained when they are alone.
- Introverts are drained by being around other people and need to be alone to recharge.
It took me a long time to understand this about myself, and a longer time still to start paying attention to how I was feeling so I could take care of myself.
As I inched past the 30-year mark I began to wonder if being tired all the time was just my natural state of being. I was used to going 100 miles an hour, working on (and in) the business all the time. It wasn’t until I became involved in a few entrepreneur mentorship groups that I was introduced to the idea of giving and taking energy. I took a few personality assessments, which are good tools to reflect on yourself, and they all identified me as an introvert. I found this surprising since I have always been social and incorrectly thought being introverted meant being shy.
I started paying more attention to how I felt after certain types of interactions.
- I noticed that 1-on-1 meetings took less energy than large gatherings.
- If I scheduled too many back-to-back meetings in a row I would often end up disengaged by the last meeting.
- If I didn’t leave a day open on the weekend for a time at home I would feel burnt out the following week.
- If I booked every evening in a week with work and personal commitments I would be completely exhausted by the time the weekend came.
- I realized that I would often go sit in a bathroom stall at a large event to have a few minutes of quiet.
- Even having my email, Twitter, and Slack open all at the same time sometimes feels overwhelming.
While I still often overdo it and sometimes don’t listen enough to my body screaming at me to take it easy, I am learning. I have started trying to build breaks into my days and week. When I am driving between meetings I often have nothing on in the background, just quiet. I often read in my office at lunch with the door closed. My team knows it is not that I don’t want to hang out with them, but that it is a recharge time for me. I try not to book more than 2 meetings in a row. I block evenings in my calendar with DO NOT BOOK so that I don’t over book myself. I try hard to leave Saturdays open for me to stay home and be a hermit with my husband.
Knowing that I am introvert and need to build in alone time into my days and weeks means that I am more effective and less prone to burning myself out.
In our world of constant interactions, it has become incredibly important for me to pay close attention to my energy. Otherwise, I am doing a disservice to all the incredible people in my life by not giving them the best of myself. Do you know how you get your energy?